Monday, February 14, 2011

Panna Cotta Layer Cake

Today is Valentine's Day and I thought I would post a chocolate based recipe. Panna Cotta Cake is smooth and creamy panna cotta layers with soft and fluffy chocolate cake layers. The entire cake is wrapped in a sheet of chocolate. This recipe is deceivingly easy even for the sometimes baker. Panna Cotta is made traditionally that I've seen as a lovely vanilla version. I do love chocolate though. This cake will take some time to make but it's completely worth every minute. Don't let that lengthy ingredient list scare you either. It's mostly basic ingredients you probably have on hand. I do prefer to use a Madagascar Vanilla Paste instead of the bean itself though. The jar can be found at gourmet food stores and it lasts a really long time instead of the essentially one use beans. If you do purchase the beans you can always take the outside (after you use the beans inside) and put them in a jar of granulated sugar and leave them there for a few weeks sealed and you will have vanilla flavored (or at a minimum scented) sugar. You should stir it around a little though maybe once every day or two.

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup hot coffee
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream

Panna Cotta:
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 5 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
  • 7 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 5 ounces high-quality milk chocolate, such as Lindt or Perugina, chopped
  • 2 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 vanilla beans, split lengthwise
For cake:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray two 10-inch-diameter springform pans with 2 1/2-inch-high sides with nonstick spray. Place chocolate and cocoa in medium bowl. Pour hot coffee and hot water over; whisk until smooth. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in another medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat oil and both sugars in large bowl 1 minute (mixture will be crumbly). Add eggs 1 at a time, beating to blend after each addition. Beat in sour cream. Mix in half of dry ingredients. Beat in chocolate mixture. Add remaining dry ingredients; beat on low speed just to blend (batter will be thin). Divide batter between pans (layers will be shallow).
Bake cakes until tester inserted into centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Cool in pans on rack.
For panna cotta:
Place 1/2 cup water in small bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over; let soften 10 minutes. Place both chocolates in large metal bowl. Combine cream, milk, sugar, and vanilla extract in large saucepan. Scrape in seeds from vanilla beans; add beans. Bring to boil, stirring until sugar dissolves; remove from heat. Add gelatin mixture; whisk to dissolve. Pour cream mixture over chocolates in bowl; whisk until completely melted. Place bowl over a larger bowl of ice water. Stir often until mixture thickens like pudding, draining off water and adding more ice to larger bowl as needed, about 30 minutes. Remove from over water.
Pour 1/2 of panna cotta over cake in 1 pan (mixture may drip down sides of cake). Freeze 45 minutes. Keep remaining panna cotta at room temperature.
Remove pan sides from second cake. Using large metal spatula, carefully slide cake off of pan bottom and place atop panna cotta in cake pan. Pour remaining panna cotta over, filling pan completely. Chill overnight. DO AHEAD: Can be covered and frozen for 2 weeks. Defrost overnight in refrigerator before continuing.
For chocolate band:
Line large baking sheet with foil; set aside. Place another large sheet of foil on work surface; place waxed paper strips atop foil, spacing apart. Stir chocolate in medium bowl set over pan of simmering water until smooth. Pour half of melted chocolate down center of each waxed paper strip. Using small offset spatula, spread chocolate to cover strips evenly, allowing some of chocolate to extend beyond edges of paper strips, making sure strips are completely covered. Using fingertips, lift strips and place on foil-lined sheet. Chill until chocolate just begins to set but is still completely flexible, about 2 minutes.
Cut around pan sides to release cake. Remove pan sides from cake. Using fingertips, lift 1 chocolate band from foil. Wrap band around cake, waxed-paper side out, lining up 1 long edge with bottom of cake (band will be higher than cake). Repeat with second band, arranging so ends just meet, pressing band onto uncovered side of cake. If bands overlap, trim any excess paper and chocolate. Using fingertips, press top edge of band in toward cake, forming slight ruffle. Chill until chocolate sets, 5 minutes. Gently peel off waxed paper. Chill cake. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Chill.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Pumpkin Cranberry Bread

 Pumpkin is apparently one of my husband's favorite foods although I had no idea until last night when I suggested Pumpkin Bread. He was so excited about it. His choice was a Pumpkin Cranberry Muffin. It used it entire can of pumpkin (which I had and wanted to use) so I was a fan of that recipe. I always have problems finding another recipe to use the leftover pumpkin from a can if there is any. These are a great throw together muffin to do when you feel like something warm with a sense of Autumn. It's a much better Autumn burst than stepping outside and feeling the frigid weather. I made one 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" loaf pan with this recipe plus 14 muffins. I do love portable treats. This recipe is an adaption of the Pumpkin Cranberry Bread from
Pumpkin Cranberry Bread
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • dash of ground cloves
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pure pumpkin (not the mix)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup sweetened dried, fresh or frozen cranberries
PREHEAT oven to 350° F. Grease and flour two 9 x 5-inch loaf pans.

COMBINE flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Combine sugar, pumpkin, eggs, oil and juice in large mixer bowl; beat until just blended. Add pumpkin mixture to flour mixture; stir just until moistened. Fold in cranberries. Spoon batter into prepared loaf pans.

BAKE for 25 minutes (for muffins) or 60 minutes (for loaves) or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Food Processor Bread

I love to make bread as well as desserts.This is one of my go-to bread recipes because it's quick and easy. By quick it only involves one rise. The recipe calls for making it in a loaf pan but I went out of the box this time and just made it on a sheet pan and it still worked beautifully yielding that lovely soft crumb. The recipe comes from BreadWorld. Sometimes I will use half bread flour and half all-purpose flour so I have a heavier crumb and higher gluten content.

Rich White Bread
3 cups All-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 envelope yeast
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
1 egg
3/4 cup warm water (120F-130F)

Insert metal blade in food processor bowl. Add flour, sugar, undissolved yeast, and salt; process 5 to 10 seconds to combine. Add butter and egg. Begin processing, then slowly pour warm water through feed tube just until dough forms a ball, about 10 to 15 seconds (all water may not be needed). Continue processing for 60 seconds to knead dough. Carefully remove dough from processor bowl to lightly floured surface. Cover; let rest on floured surface 10 minutes.

Roll dough to 12 x 7-inch rectangle. Beginning at short end, roll up tightly as for jelly roll. Pinch seam and ends to seal. Place, seam side down, in greased 8-1/2 x 4-1/2-inch loaf pan. Cover; let rise in warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 30 to 45 minutes.

Bake at 375°F for 30 minutes or until done. Remove from pan; let cool on wire rack.

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