Chocolate Guinness Cake – Nigella

I cannot help myself, but I really like Nigella. I know people get weird about the “domestic goddess” thing, but she has always seemed like my kind of cook – do not take it too seriously and have a good time, and that is what I really try to do.

I have her cookbooks “How to Eat,” and “How to be a domestic goddess.” Oh, and “Nigella Summer.” I would love to have such a cool name. When you have a name that many people have – my name, it is kind of annoying. Thankfully my mom was ahead of the curve. There were no other Jennifers in my classes, but lord help you if you were a few years younger than me, there were Jennifers aplenty. Sometimes it helps to be in the forefront of a popular name. And then it is still kind of a thing that I would like a unique name. I guess that is why Jj works for me.

D&D_1945I am always looking for the ultimate version of a Guinness cake, so let’s see how this one stacks up to the other I made last year. I know it is not strictly the Guinness time of year (March), but I don’t really care. It’s what I want to make so it is what shall be made.

Butter for pan
1 cup Guinness stout
10 Tbs unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 cups superfine sugar
3/4 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
1 Tbs vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking soda

1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
8 ozs cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9″ springform pan and line with parchment paper. In a large saucepan, combine Guinness and butter. Place over medium low heat until butter melts, then remove from heat. Add cocoa and superfine sugar, and whisk to blend.

In a small bowl, combine sour cream, eggs, and vanilla; mix well. Add to Guinness mixture. Add flour and baking soda, and whisk again until smooth. Pour into buttered pan, and bake until risen and firm, 45 minutes to one hour. Place on wire rack and cool completely in pan.

Break up any lumps in confectioners’ sugar – I sift. Add cream cheese and blend until smooth. Add heavy cream, and mix until smooth and spreadable.

Remove cake from pan and place on platter. Ice top of cake only to resemble a pint of Guinness. Because that is just really cool.

St. Patrick’s Day – Preview Day, sort of

Unfortunately, I will be out of town for St. Patrick’s Day this year as I have been in several other years and it makes me sad. St. Patrick’s Day was our first date – ish. I do not think the MotH planned it as a date, but I think it was inevitable and now it is probably the second most important date for us – the wedding date being the most important. Or maybe the other way around. Interesting, that both days were really just amazingly relaxed. Guess that is just us. I think that may be what happens when two adults realize they have found the right person for them.  Okay – I shall stop now because that sounds too sappy. I do seem to do that on occasion.

So back to St. Patrick’s Day, since I will not be around in my kitchen, I will replay some of my favorites for you to enjoy. I guess I need to figure out when St. Andrew’s Day (November 30th) is as he is the patron saint of Scotland and I am Scottish on both sides of my family. You do not look like me or like the Boy without some Scottish in you. When I think back, my father really had the look about him, but I just did not recognize as I do now in hindsight. I guess I have to figure out Scottish food, but I’m not entirely sure that will be a good thing. ?

Reuben Casserole – as I have said, not pretty, so not pretty, but pretty amazing.

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Guinness Chocolate Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. It’s like looking at a really good pour of Guinness. That is something that has to be done correctly and it takes time – just wait, it will be worth the reward.

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Guinness Brownies – I do not like brownies at all. But the first time I made these, well, hell, in small doses they were amazing. And I think the Boy liked the idea that there was stout in his brownies made him happy. Can not say that I blamed him for that.

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Butter Usage – by month – March 2016

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Meyer Lemon Bars

8 March – 16 Tbs – Raisin Walnut Oatmeal Cookies

11 March – 6 Tbs – Guinness Brownies

11 March – 16 Tbs – Pie Crust

12 March – 8 Tbs – Apple Walnut Pie

20 March – 13.5 Tbs – Walnut Muffins

24 March – 11 Tbs – White Chocolate Chip Cranberry Pecan Oatmeal Cookies

25 March – 16 Tbs – Meyer Lemon Bars

86.5 = 10.8125 sticks = 43.25 ounces = 2.703125 pounds

Not embarrassing, to say the least – in the butter use department. And I have to say that butter pie crust was so amazingly good. Now I am feeling slightly guilty about knowing the source for it. Will dig through lots of papers to figure it out.

January – March 2016 – Food “Holidays” Recap

Super Bowl – February 7

Spiced Pecans * Roast Beef Horseradish Sandwich * Bacon-wrapped Fruit Bites * Buffalo Rolls * Proscuitto Fontina Pinwheels * Sun-dried Tomato Pesto Torte *

Mardi Gras Pot Luck – February 9

Mardi Gras Sugar Cookies *  Sun-dried Tomato Pesto Torte *

Margarita Day – February 22

Leap Day – February 29

Apple Carrot Cupcakes *

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Apple Carrot Muffins – slightly amazing. And, no. I’m not bragging.

Pi Day – March 14

Apple Walnut Pie *

Butter Pie Crust *

St Patrick’s Day – March 17

Guinness Brownies *

Easter – March 27

Not sure yet, but I have a few days to sort it out. Yikes.


Guinness Brownies

As I have mentioned about a million times, I am not a big chocolate person, but I am a huge fan of Guinness. It was the first beer I really drank (huge story here) and I love it still. It is like having a meal, so I don’t drink it too often. The MotH likes Guinness too and the Boy love brownies, so this just makes sense. I use a Guinness stout, and maybe drink one, the MotH gets the rest, and the Boy gets brownies, and now at his age, a Guinness for himself too. It is a win all the way around.D&D_1246

4 large eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar, superfine*
8 ozs bittersweet chocolate, chopped
4 ozs white chocolate, chopped
6 Tbs unsalted butter
3/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cups cocoa
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup Guinness Stout**
confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray with cooking spray, an  8 x 8 baking pan, line with a parchment sling and spray that as well. Over a piece of waxed paper, sift together the flour, salt, cocoa

In a stand mixer, combine sugar and eggs and beat until light and fluffy.

In a microwave bowl,  melt chocolates and butter in 30 second bursts, and stir until smooth. Cool slightly, and mix into egg mixture.

Add flour mixture to egg mixture and beat until smooth.  Whisk Guinness into batter. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 20 –  25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. (Might be longer than you think – it was for me).

Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack. Remove from pan using sling, cut into very tiny squares and dust with confectioners’ sugar.

Source: Grace Neill’s A New Irish Table

*Take granulated sugar and whir it in a food processor and then measure out 3/4 cup. Or just use regular granulated sugar, I have.  It does not seem to matter.

**Pour the stout and let the foam settle before measuring.

These brownies are pretty much like fudge. Please cut them in little tiny pieces.

1 March 2003 – SR/ER loved them, so very chocolate w/out being too sweet.

16 March 2003 – for the office

5 November 2006 Guy Fawkes

26 March 2011

 

Pinwheel Cookies

I’ve been making cookies / desserts at the suggestions of others just to get me to try new things, and one suggestion a couple of weeks ago was a pinwheel cookie. The guy that asked for it said his mom used to make them for him, but had not in a while.

Well, after I checked into what a pinwheel is, I understand why his mom doesn’t make it anymore. You have to really love someone (which I suggested his mom may not do any more – which was mean, but funny) to do this amount of work … And this much frigign’ math. But, since I have never 1) eaten a pinwheel or 2) made a pinwheel. I took it as some sadistic challenge. And so far that seems to be an accurate statement of the experience. I’ve gone so far as to clock the active time involved in putting this damn cookie together. I even made templates – who what nerd does that?? Me. sigh.D&D_0854

Yields about 10 dozen 2-inch cookies. If you can roll everything in the correct dimension. Yep that was wasn’t me.

13 1/2 oz. (3 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. table salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
10 oz. (1-1/4 cups) unsalted butter, slightly softened
1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 large egg
1-1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 tsp. instant espresso powder
2 Tbs. boiling water
3 Tbs. unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
3 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted but still warm

Sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter on medium-low speed until smooth, about 2 min. Add the sugar in a steady stream and mix for another 2 min. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until well combined, scraping the bowl as needed. Reduce the speed to low and add the dry ingredients in two additions, mixing just until combined. Remove 2 cups less 2 Tbs. of the dough and set aside.

Dissolve the espresso powder in the boiling water and set aside briefly to cool. Then mix the espresso and cocoa powder into the remaining dough. Reduce the mixer speed to low, add the warm melted chocolate and mix just until thoroughly combined.

Portion each flavor of dough into three equal pieces. (For accuracy, use a scale – yes, do this) Shape each piece into a 5×5-inch square on a piece of plastic wrap and wrap well. The chocolate will be thicker than the vanilla. Refrigerate the dough for 30 min. (If the dough becomes too hard, let it stand at room temperature for a few minutes before rolling) = 1 hour.

While the dough is chilling, tear off twelve 12-inch squares of waxed paper. Roll each piece of dough into a 7×7-inch square between two sheets of the waxed paper. Without removing the waxed paper, layer the squares of dough on a baking sheet and refrigerate for 10 to 15 min. Have ready three 15-inch sheets of plastic wrap = 20 more minutes.

To shape the cookies, remove one square of the vanilla dough and one square of the chocolate dough from the refrigerator and peel off the top sheet of waxed paper from each. Invert the chocolate square over the vanilla square (or vanilla can go on top of chocolate; try some of each for variety), taking care to align the two layers as evenly as possible. Using your rolling pin, gently roll over the dough to seal the layers together. Peel off the top layer of waxed paper.

Starting with the edge of the dough closest to you, carefully curl the edge of the dough up and over with your fingertips, so no space is visible in the center of the pinwheel.

Using the waxed paper as an aid, continue rolling the dough into a tight cylinder. After the cylinder is formed, roll it back and forth on the counter to slightly elongate it and compact it. And then roll is really crunchy sparkling sugar (not in the original recipe, but so worth it). Transfer the log to the plastic wrap, centering it on the long edge closest to you. Roll tightly, twisting the ends of the plastic firmly to seal. With your hands on either end of the log, push firmly toward the center to compact the dough. It should be about 9 inches long and 1-1/2 inches thick – or whatever it is – really.  Repeat with remaining dough. Refrigerate the logs until firm enough to slice, about 3 hours, or freeze for up to three months = 20 more minutes.

Heat the oven to 350°F. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment. Working with one log at a time, roll the long in large grain sparkling sugar. Then, use a sharp, thin-bladed knife to slice the dough into 3/16-inch rounds (I used my tomato knife, not thin, but beyond sharp). Set the rounds about 1 inch apart on the prepared pans and bake until the tops of the cookies feel set, 12 to 14 minutes, making sure to rotate pan halfway through. Let the baked cookies stand for 1 minute on the pan, then transfer to a rack to cool completely. When cool, store between sheets of waxed paper in an airtight container for up to two weeks, or freeze for up to three months = 12 – 13 minutes x 6 =78 minutes.

Total time, roughly, since I’m not good at math = 2 hours & 20 minutes, not including time in the fridge.

Fine Cooking

With this all said and done, now that I have experience doing it, I will make these again. Nothing is particularly daunting. There are just many steps and it takes time. It’s fairly forgiving too because my measurements of the squares were not correct. I just made them match and tried to make it close and it worked. As a not huge chocolate fan, this chocolate part of the cookie reminds me of Guinness – coffee, dark chocolate, lovely.

 

Reuben Casserole

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Reuben Casserole

It’s March (totally late posting this – ugh. It is now early May – how does this happen?) which means I’m thinking about the end of casserole season (true) at least for here in the North West Florida Gulf Coast. It’s already starting to get in the 70’s during the day (now in the 80’s). One of my favorite casseroles is a Reuben casserole – all the flavor of a Reuben, but the ease of a casserole and, better still, leftovers! Excellent.
I started making this years ago, and I’ve modified it and scaled it down for the two of us (the Boy is not a fan – I think I didn’t raise him right. He also does not like collards, or boiled peanuts – yes, I’m a disappointment as a southern cook – or mom). I’ve taken some tricks from Cook’s Country’s recipe from their “Best Reuben Sandwich” especially their version of the traditionally-used Thousand Island dressing. I mean why buy bottled stuff (ugh) when you can make your own version with things you have on hand – mayo, chili sauce or cocktail sauce, and relish.
This is a pretty quick and easy meal and this time of year (March) you can bet corned beef and Guinness are on sale. The Guinness is for drinking (mostly!), Brownies, and Chocolate Cake – in that order.

3/4 cup mayonnaise
3 Tbs chili sauce
2 Tbs sweet relish
1/2 cup sour cream
2 Tbs minced (or grated) onion
6 slices of rye, cubed (seeds or no – I go for no)
8 ozs sauerkraut, drained (recommended: Boar’s Head)
3/4 pound corned beef, cubed
2 cups Swiss cheese, shredded
4 Tbs butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 8 x 8″ ( 9 x 9″ whatever you have) with non-stick spray.
In a bowl, mix together mayonnaise, chili sauce, relish, sour cream, and onion.
Arrange rye cubes in the bottom of the pan reserving 1/4 cup of cubes for topping. Layer on sauerkraut and corned beef. Spread with dressing mixture over the corned beef. Sprinkle with cheese, top with remaining rye, and drizzle with butter.
Cover with foil, and bake 15 minutes. Uncover and bake 10 more minutes until bubbly and lightly brown.