Lemon Poppy Seed Pound Cake

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Coconut Cake

posted by Lisa

(I forgot to take a final picture!  This would have cream on top too)

I made this cake for work.  We were having a competition and had to make a dessert that was "citrus" inspired.  So, I made this with out the frosting and with out the coconut.  It has a really nice lemon flavored curd and the cake has a wonderful flavor all on it's own.  Next time I am going to make it all according to the recipe because I think that will turn out more complete.

Coconut Cake Recipe

Lemon Curd:
3 large eggs
1/3 cup (80 ml) fresh lemon juice (2-3 lemons)
1 tablespoon finely shredded lemon zest
3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated white sugar
4 tablespoons (56 grams) unsalted butter

Coconut Cake:
6 large eggs
2 1/2 cups (325 grams) all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (170 grams) unsalted butter, room temp.
1 3/4 cups (350 grams) white sugar, divided
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups (420 ml) buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

2 large (60 grams) egg whites
1 1/2 cups (300 grams) granulated white sugar
1/4 cup (60 ml) cold water
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Lemon CurdIn a stainless steel bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and lemon juice until blended. Cook, stirring constantly (to prevent it from curdling), until the mixture becomes thick (like sour cream) (160 degrees F) (71 degrees C). This takes about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and immediately pour through a fine strainer to remove any lumps. Cut the butter into small pieces and whisk into the mixture until the butter has melted. Add the lemon zest and let cool. The lemon curd will continue to thicken as it cools. Cover immediately (so a skin doesn't form) and refrigerate until cold. The lemon curd can be made several days in advance.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C). Butter and flour two - 9 inch x 1 1/2 inch (23 x 3.75 cm) cake pans, and then line the bottoms with parchment paper.

Cake: While the eggs are still cold separate the eggs, placing the yolks in one bowl and the whites in another bowl. Cover the two bowls with plastic wrap and allow the eggs to come to room temperature before using (about 30 minutes). 

In a mixing bowl sift or whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In bowl of electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter until soft (about 1-2 minutes). Gradually add 1 1/2 cups (300 grams) of the sugar and beat until light and fluffy (about 2-3 minutes). Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla extract and beat until combined. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and buttermilk, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour.

In a clean bowl of your electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, (or with a hand mixer) beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue beating until soft peaks form. Gradually add the remaining 1/4 cup (50 grams) of sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks form. With a rubber spatula gently fold a little of the whites into the batter to lighten it, and then fold in the remaining whites until combined. Do not over mix the batter or it will deflate.

Divide the batter and pour into the prepared pans, smoothing the surface with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon. Bake for about 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in center. Place the cakes on a wire rack to cool, in their pans, for about 10 minutes. Then invert the cakes onto a greased rack. To prevent splitting, re-invert cakes so that tops are right side up. Cool completely before filling and frosting.
( I didn't make the frosting this time, but probably will next time)
Frosting:  In a stainless steel bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, place the egg whites, sugar, water, and corn syrup. With a handheld electric mixer beat the mixture for 3 to 4 minutes on low speed. Increase the speed to high and continue to beat for another 3 to 4 minutes or until the icing is shiny and satiny with soft peaks. Remove from heat, add the vanilla extract, and continue to beat on high speed for another 1 to 2 minutes or until the frosting is thick. Use immediately.
Assemble:  With a serrated knife, cut each cake layer in half, horizontally. Place one cake layer on your serving plate and spread with about 1/3 of the lemon curd and sprinkle with about 2 tablespoons of coconut. Continue with the next layers, stacking and filling with the lemon curd and coconut. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the 7-Minute Frosting and then sprinkle with about 1 cup (240 ml) of coconut. Cover and refrigerate the cake until serving time. Makes one - 9 inch (23 cm) layer cake

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Dan Dan Noodles (PF Chang Style)

Ok, to most of the world, this is a common flavor I am sure.  But to me and my sheltered taste buds, this was amazing!  I ventured out in making this because of our foreign exchange student from Vietnam.  I wanted to make something that might remind him of home and it was a good choice!  This was really easy to make and so worth it!  (This was the 2nd time I have made it, I forgot the beansprouts this time and missed them!)

Dan Dan Noodles (PF Chang Style)

source: By Galley Wench on May 04, 2009 www.food.com


    • 2 chicken breast fillets, skinless and boneless
    • 2 tablespoons peanut oil, plus more for cooking chicken
    • 1 (6 ounce) packages chow mein noodles ( or Chinese egg noodles)
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons garlic, minced
    • 1/2 cup green onion, chopped
    • 1 tablespoon ginger, minced
    • 1/2 cup soy sauce
    • 3/4 cup chicken broth
    • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
    • 2 teaspoons sambal oelek ( chile-garlic sauce to taste)
    • 4 tablespoons cornstarch
    • 1/2 cup water


    • 1/2 cup bean sprouts, or
    • 1/2 cup peanuts


  1. Saute chicken breast in a skillet in a little oil for 10 to 12 minutes.

  2. Allow to cool; then mince.
  3. Prepare the noodles following the directions on the package; typically boil for 3 to 5 minutes in 8 to 10 cups boiling water.

    NOT THIS KIND OF NOODLES!!  There are actually "chow mein" noodles that are dried and you boil.  Find them in the Asian section

  4. For Sauce:.
  5. In a wok heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat.
  6. Add garlic and green onion and saute for just a few seconds; careful that the garlic doesn't burn.
    (tip: keep ginger root frozen.  It grates up so nicely with a micro planer while frozen)
  7. Add soy sauce, chicken broth, brown sugar and chile-garlic sauce. Combine the cornstarch with ½ cup water and stir it into the sauce. Simmer sauce for about 2 minutes or until it thickens
(my pictures of these steps didn't take...camera issues!)
  1. Once thick, add the chicken and simmer for an additional 5 minutes.
  2. Place cooked noodles onto a serving plate.
  3. Spoon chicken and sauce over the top of the noodles.
  4. Garnish with bean sprouts or peanuts before serving.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Perfect Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Frosting

Submitted by Heather

Just keeping it real with the picture above.  You know I can't get a fancy cake made without the rest of the house falling to pieces.  With 5 kiddos, it doesn't take long to trash the house.  But the taste of the cake made up for the chaos that ensued!

This is a really good chocolate cake.  I don't use the word "perfect" lightly, but this has become my "go-to" chocolate cake for special occasions. It has a light crumb, tastes like chocolate (unlike some cakes that only LOOK like chocolate) and cuts nicely.  I wish I had enough time to do a taste test with other chocolate cakes so that I could definitively say which one is the best, but just know that this one is very good and worth the time to make it.  I was making up excuses to level the cakes over and over just so that I could taste the cake again.  I started out with about 2 1/2 inch layers and was left with about 1 1/2 inch layers by the time I was done "testing"! Just make sure that you don't overcook this cake!  I made that mistake the first time and it was very dry.  I was so annoyed, that I immediately made the cake again - much to the amazement and happiness of my family. It was moist and wonderful the next time.

The frosting is also very good.  How can it not be, when it is mostly melted chocolate?  Make this cake for your next birthday or celebration and wait for the chocoholics to sing your praises.

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for pans
3/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder, plus more for pans
1/2 cup boiling water
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 cups sifted cake flour (not self-rising)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange two racks in center of oven. Butter three 8-by-2-inch round cake pans; line bottoms with parchment. Spray the pans with vegetable oil spray. Sift cocoa into a medium bowl, and whisk in boiling water. Set aside to cool.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter on low speed until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in sugar until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes, scraping down sides twice. Beat in vanilla. Drizzle in eggs, a little at a time, beating between each addition until the batter is no longer slick, scraping down the sides twice.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. Whisk milk, little by little, into reserved cocoa mixture until smooth. With mixer on low speed, alternately add flour and cocoa mixtures to the batter, a little of each at a time, starting and ending with flour mixture.

Divide batter evenly among the three prepared pans. Bake until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into center of each layer comes out clean (or almost clean), 30 to 45 minutes, rotating the pans for even baking. DO NOT OVERBAKE. Transfer layers to wire racks; let cool, 15 minutes. Turn out cakes, and return to racks, tops up, until completely cool.

Remove parchment from bottoms of cakes. Reserve the prettiest layer for the top. Place one cake layer on a serving platter; spread 1 1/2 cups chocolate frosting over the top. Add the second cake layer, and spread with another 1 1/2 cups frosting. Top with third cake layer. Cover outside of cake with the remaining 3 cups frosting. Serve.

Source: Moist Devil's Food Cake by Martha Stewart

16 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
8 Tbsp. unsalted butter (1 stick)
1/3 C. sugar
2 Tbsp. corn syrup
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. table salt
1 1/4 C. heavy cream (cold)

Melt chocolate in heatproof bowl set over saucepan containing 1 inch of barely simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth.  Remove from heat and set aside.  Meanwhile, heat butter in small saucepan over medium-low heat until melted.  Increase heat to medium; add sugar, corn syrup, vanilla, and salt and stir with heatproof rubber spatula until sugar is dissolved, 4-5 minutes.  add melted chocolate, butter mixture, and cream to clean bowl of standing mixer and stir to thoroughly combine.
Place mixer bowl over ice bath and stir mixture constantly with rubber spatula until frosting is thick and just beginning to harden against sides of bowl, 1 to 2 minutes (frosting should be 70 degrees). Place bowl on standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment and beat on medium-high speed until frosting is light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes.  Stir with rubber spatula until completely smooth.

Source: America's Test Kitchen Old Fashioned Chocolate Layer Cake (frosting)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Chocolate Mousse Dacquoise

Submitted by Heather

For a couple of years I've wanted to start a dessert club.  You know, get together with friends who love to cook and eat and share our latest recipes.  So this past month I finally set it all up and we had our inaugural meeting.  It was so much fun!  Because I wanted everyone to feel comfortable (or uncomfortable?), I had the dessert assignment be something you've never made before.  That opened up a lot of possibilities, without making it so that people could say "I don't know how to make that."  We were all trying something new.
It was really hard to decide on something to make.  I have a cake cookbook, though, with a number of cake recipes that are just different enough that I've never thought of attempting them.  I can't believe how many things I've never tried making!  The following recipe is one of those.  I'm so glad I chose it, because it was really different and fantastic.
It took a bit of work and pre-planning, but don't let all the steps scare you away.  They're really just there to guide you and help you from making mistakes.
This cake is really wonderful, because you get the crisp and crunchy texture from the dacquoise, and the smooth chocolate taste from the mousse and together it is definitely more than the sum of its parts.  After I had made just the dacquoise layer, I tasted it and thought, meh.  I wasn't sure my dessert was going to be anything special.  But after I put it together with the mousse, I was won over.  It was delicious!  If you have a fancy occasion and want to wow someone, this would be a perfect choice.  And one wonderful thing about this cake is that you can make the different parts days ahead of time, and then you're all ready to assemble a few hours before serving.
(In all of the craziness of the first meeting of Dessert Club, I forgot to take a close-up of my own dessert!  Here it is blown up a bit.  At the top of the post is a picture of a leftover piece I thankfully had saved.)

Dacquoise Cake Layer

6 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 1/4 C.  sifted superfine sugar (8 3/4 oz.; 250 g.)
2 Tablespoons sifted cornstarch
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1/8 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract

For dacquoise add:
1 C. (5 ounces; 140 g) toasted and finely ground hazelnuts and/or almonds
1/8 tsp. hazelnut or almond extract

Dab a little butter on a jellyroll pan and add parchment paper cut to fit the pan. Spray parchment with vegetable spray, then dust it with flour; tap out excess flour. Use a toothpick directly on the greased sheet to draw around a template marking three 8 or 9 inch rounds about 1 inch apart on the prepared pans.

Set aside 1/2 C. of the sugar. Combine remaining sugar with the cornstarch in a sifter and sift together onto wax paper.  If making a dacquoise, add the ground nuts to this sugar-cornstarch mixture.

Put the warm whites into the large bowl of an electric mixer, add cream of tartar and salt, and beat on low to medium speed until the whites begin to look fluffy.  Gradually add the reserved 1/2 C. sugar, while beating on medium-high speed (Kitchenaid #8) until whites are glossy and medium-stiff.  Add vanilla if used, and the hazelnut or almond extract.  Beat just a few seconds longer, until stiff but not dry.

In four or five additions, fold the cornstarch-sugar and nuts mixture into the whites by hand, using a flat whisk or rubber spatula.  Fold gently to maintain maximum volume.

Prepare a pastry bag by setting it, tip down in a four cup measure.  Spoon in the meringue.  Twist the bag closed and pipe meringue inside the 3 marked shapes on the pan.  Gently squeeze out an even column of meringue, holding the bag perpendicular to the pan and slightly above it.  Use up any leftover meringue by piping out small cookies or spooning out small nests or cups of meringue.  Bake the meringue in the preheated oven for 40-50 minutes, or longer, until the meringue is thoroughly set and a very light beige color.  Look in the oven after about 5 minutes; if the meringue is darkening too fast, reduce the heat to 250 degrees.  If the oven heat is too high, the color of the meringue will darken as the sugar caramelizes; this changes the flavor of the meringue.  To bake perfectly white meringues, you must bake the layers at 200 degrees for 90 minutes or longer until thoroughly dried out.

After baking the dacquoise, set the pans on a wire rack for a few minutes.  The baked shapes will be slightly pliable while warm.  At this stage, use a wide spatula to lift them from the sheet, take off the parchment, and set them on the wire rack to cool completely.  After cooling the layers on the racks for 15 to 20 minutes, they should be completely crisp.  Test a small cookie to test the texture - it should crack in half.  If your shapes are still soft when cold, set them back on the parchment and return to the oven for a little while to dry out further.

Once they are cold and crisp, trim the layers to be the same size so that they have a neat appearance.  Save the trimmings. Store the layers in an airtight container, separated by wax paper.  You may freeze, fill and frost or keep on the counter for several days.

(This recipe is for those who do not want raw egg in their mousse, but would like the added richness that eggs add.  The eggs are cooked to remove any possible danger.)

12 ounces semisweet or bittersweet (not unsweetened) chocolate, chopped (2 C. morsels; 340 g.) or combine half semisweet and half bittersweet chocolate
4 Tablespoons light corn syrup
6 large egg yolks
1 C. heavy cream, at room temperature, plus 2 Cups, well chilled

Melt chocolate in top of the double boiler set over, not touching, hot water; stir, remove from heat, stir until smooth, and set aside to cool.
In small, heavy-bottomed pan set over medium-low heat, whisk together corn syrup, yolks, and 1 C. room-temp. cream.  Whisk and stir continuously for 5 to 7 minutes, or until mixture is thick, covers a spoon, and reaches 150 F for 2 minutes, or 160 for moment on an instant-read thermometer.
Strain the yolk mixture into the cooling chocolate and immediately whisk hard, making the chocolate shiny and satin-smooth.  Cool until warm, not hot, to the touch.
Using a chilled bowl and beater, whip remaining 2 Cups of chilled cream to soft peaks.  Check temperature of chocolate - it should feel warm but comfortable to the touch.  Fold chocolate into cream, cover, and refrigerate until ready to serve.  Bring to room temperature before spreading on cake or serving alone as a dessert.
Makes 6 Cups.

1 C. toasted and ground hazelnuts and/or almonds, or toasted and sliced almonds (add this to the leftover dacquoise pieces that have been crushed)
Chocolate curls (Note: my curls didn't work out.  I think the room/pan was too cold, because they turned into shards of chocolate instead.  But I still used them and actually got compliments on them! Maybe people were just being nice...)

Prepare 3 dacquoise layers.  While the layers are baking, prepare the chocolate mousse.  Set the mousse in the refrigerator to chill until it reaches a spreading consistency.
Set out a bowl containing toasted sliced or chopped nuts and add any crumbs left from trimming the baked dacquoise layers.

On a 9 inch cardboard cake disk or a flat plate, put a dab of chocolate mousse in the center, then set down the first dacquoise layer.  spread about 1 1/4 C. of mousse on the first layer, top with a second dacquoise layer, and add mousse filling as before; repeat with remaining layers.  Align the sides of the cake neatly.  Frost the sides and top of the cake generously with the chocolate mousse.  You will probably have some mousse left over; it can be frozen and served at another time or piped through a pastry bag fitted with a star tip to make decorative rosettes around the edge of the cake.

To garnish the cake, lift it up and hold it over a piece of wax paper or a tray.  Scoop the toasted and ground nuts/crumbs into the palm of your other hand and press them gently onto the lower third of the cake sides.  If you plan to freeze the cake, do so at this time.

To complete the cake, cover the top with chocolate curls and sift on a fine dusting of confectioners' sugar.  Refrigerate the cake for 3 or 4 hours for easiest slicing, or until ready to serve.

Source: The Perfect Cake by Susan G. Purdy