Chocolate Raspberry Charlotte Cake

Hello again!

I have had an extended absence from the blogging world, and for that, I am sorry! It has been a crazy last month and a half. Since my last post (almost a month ago! Agghh!) classes have ended, final exams are over, graduation is done, and I have been to, and am back from, Edmonton, where I marked diploma exams for a week.

After I got back from Edmonton, I got sick with a cold for a week, got better, went to Lethbridge, and began to clean out and move my classroom.

With all that insanity behind me, I decided to make something a little fancy before the insanity starts again. I have a friend’s wedding coming up, and I am making centerpieces and the cupcakes.

A charlotte cake is French in origin, usually with a sponge cake of some kind at the base, and ladyfinger cookies surrounding a fluffy smooth mousse filling.

I decided to make my own version of a charlotte. I did use recipes I found for all components, but put all the recipes together for my own version. I used the sponge cake and raspberry mousse filling from this site, and the chocolate mousse from here. Honestly, I should have halved the chocolate mousse recipe, because it made so much. I have reflected the proper measurements below, but if you want just a chocolate charlotte, double the recipe and use just the chocolate mousse as a filling.

The recipe I used consists of the following: a ladyfinger cookie outline surrounding the pan, a sponge cake base, a raspberry mousse, a chocolate mousse, and a middle layer of ladyfinger and sponge cake trimmings.

Here is a fancy dessert that (other than the sponge cake), requires no turning on of your oven. In fact, some versions of a charlotte use more ladyfingers as a base instead of a spongecake. This is a perfectly fine, and the only reason I didn’t use ladyfingers was because I ran out, so I made a sponge cake base. Them’s the breaks.

I will warn you: this dessert is not for the faint of heart! It’s a time and labour intensive dessert, but SO worth the effort.

Ingredients

Yield: 1 9 inch cake

For the sponge cake:

4 large eggs, room temperature
2/3 c. sugar
2/3 c. flour
¼ tsp. baking powder
3-4 tbsp. raspberry preserves, jam, or liqeur

For the raspberry mousse:

2½ c. frozen raspberries
½ c. sugar
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. unflavoured gelatin
2 c. heavy cream
6 tbsp. icing sugar

For the chocolate mousse:

6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 c. heavy cream
¼ c. milk
¼ c. plus 2 tbsp. butter, at room temperature
3 eggs, separated
¼ c. sugar

For the lining and garnish:

2-3 dozen ladyfinger cookies (more if you use ladyfingers as a base as well as the lining)
1 c. heavy cream
Fresh raspberries (if desired)
Chocolate shavings (if desired)

To prepare, line the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan with parchment paper, and the sides of the springform pan with plastic wrap. Trim ladyfinger cookies ½ inch, so there is one flat edge. Place upright in the springform pan, sitting on the flat edge. If desired, line the bottom of the pan with more ladyfinger cookies, and use the cut pieces to fill in gaps.

If not lining the cake pan with ladyfinger cookies, begin preparation by making the sponge cake. In a 7 inch cake pan, line the bottom with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350°F.

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the eggs for 1 minute. Add the sugar, and beat again on high speed approximately 7 minutes, until light, fluffy, and 3-4 times the volume.

Sift together the flour and baking powder. Sift the flour mixture into the egg mixture in two additions, folding after each addition. Be thorough, and catch any hidden flour pockets, but keep the air in and do not over-mix.

Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake in the preheated oven for 23-25 minutes, until top is golden and springs back when poked lightly.

Let cool completely, then slice cake in half. My cake did not slice evenly, so I had one even layer, and I turned the remainder into a secondary “crumb” layer with my ladyfinger pieces in the middle.

For the raspberry mousse, combine the frozen raspberries and sugar in a medium saucepan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the raspberries reach a jam-like consistency. Remove from the heat and strain through a sieve into a bowl, pressing on the fruit to extract as much liquid as possible.

Into the strained raspberry juice, stir in the lemon juice and gelatin. Transfer back to the saucepan, and over the warm burner whisk together until gelatin dissolves, then take back off the heat and let cool to room temperature.

In the bowl of a mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the heavy cream and the icing sugar together until thick and spreadable. Once the raspberry syrup is at room temperature, fold into the whipped cream a ¼ at a time, until all of the raspberry syrup is incorporated. Set aside, at room temperature.

For the chocolate mousse, in a heat-proof bowl add the chocolate, and melt over a double boiler or in the microwave for 30 second blasts, stirring constantly.

Add the milk, and whisk completely. Add the butter, and the egg yolks, whisking again until fully incorporated.

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip the cream until fluffy and thick. Fold in the chocolate mixture.

In a clean mixer bowl (with no grease whatsoever!), whip the egg whites until soft peaks form. Add the sugar, and whip egg whites into stiff peaks.

Fold egg whites into the chocolate mixture until cohesive.

To assemble the charlotte, in the prepared springform pan lined with ladyfingers, place the sponge cake in the base of the pan. Brush with the raspberry preserves, jam, or liqueur if using.

Spread half of the raspberry mousse in an even layer, and place in the refrigerator for 10-20 minutes to set up. Top with half of the chocolate mousse, and refrigerate again to begin setting up. Be careful not to knock the ladyfingers out of place.

If desired, use another layer of ladyfingers and cake crumbs on top of the chocolate mousse layer.

Top with remaining raspberry mousse, set for 10-20 minutes again, the remaining chocolate mousse, and refrigerate 3-4 hours until set.

To garnish, whip the cream into soft, thick peaks. Fill a piping bag with a star tip, and the whipped cream. Pipe onto charlotte, and garnish as desired with raspberries or chocolate shavings.

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Sourdough Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffins

It’s no secret I love sourdough! I am always trying to find new ways to use my sourdough starter in baking. Sure, I have my favourites, like these crackers, or these soft pretzels, but I’m always on the lookout for new uses.

When I realized that I needed to make some more sourdough bread, I was immediately looking for a new recipe to use with my discard starter. I hate throwing any sourdough starter away, so I think it’s a good plan to have some kind of recipe rotation of discard recipes that I can whip up when I need them.

This recipe was just what I needed. I had Paul peruse my Pinterest board (and I just minorly geeked out at my own alliteration… yay for being an English teacher!), and he said that these were the first things that sounded good. Perfect!

You can make these muffins with pantry staples. Also, if you are not a regular yogurt buyer, like me, just swap the yogurt out with more milk, or sour cream. I used sour cream, and added just a touch more sugar to offset the sour cream in the sourdough recipe.

These muffins take no time at all to make, and you can have fresh muffins on the table in less than an hour. Win-win!

Ingredients

Yield: 12-14 muffins

1 c. rolled oats
½ c. milk
½ c. plain yogurt
1 tsp. vanilla
½ c. sourdough starter
1/3 c. sugar
1½ c. flour
1½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. salt
1/3 c. oil (I used canola)
1 egg, beaten
¾ c. chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease and flour a 12-cup muffin tin. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the oats, milk, yogurt, and vanilla. Make sure oats are thoroughly combined. Set aside to soften while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. (You can also do this step before preheating the oven, if desired.)

Stir the sourdough starter and the sugar into the oat mixture.

In a small mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon, and salt. Whisk until combined.

Stir oil and egg into the oat mixture, and combine well.

Fold in dry ingredients until just mixed, then add the chocolate chips, and fold in again.

Spoon batter into the prepared muffin tin. For huge muffins, evenly divide all batter into muffin cups. I wanted normal-sized muffins, so I spooned about ¼ cup of batter into all cups. I had batter left over, (about 2 muffins worth), so I just greased a large ramekin, and made 1 jumbo muffin.

Bake in the preheated oven until golden brown, about 20-25 minutes. Remove from muffin tin and cool on a wire rack.

Texas Sheet Cake

Texas sheet cake is like a combo cake/brownie. It is soft, moist, tender, and delicious!

The school I worked at last year would do Hot Lunch day once a month. The Foods class would make everyone a meal, usually with dessert included, and texas sheet cake was the dessert staple! It’s not hard to see why. You make one batter, throw it onto a sheet pan, and off you go! Easy to make, and it can feed a crowd with delicious results.

The recipe I used is not from my school, but instead from this blog. I found it, decided to try it, and was not disappointed. The only thing I changed is how I prepared the icing. I know that many Texas-style sheet cakes have a boiled icing. This one did not, and because you put the icing on the hot cake anyways, it melts, and I figured that why couldn’t I throw everything together in a saucepan, and have it work that way too?

This actually worked beautifully. The hot icing soaked into the cake, and made it more moist and delicious, as well as really amping up the chocolate flavour and fudge factor.

This cake takes so little time to prepare, and is so easy. Trust me, and go make this!

Ingredients
Yield: Approx. 3 dozen slices of cake (from a 17 x 11 sheet pan)

For the cake:

2 c. flour
2 c. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 c. butter, softened
¼ c. cocoa powder
2 eggs
½ c. buttermilk
1 c. hot water
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tbsp. vinegar

For the icing:

½ c. butter. softened
6 tbsp. milk
¼ c. cocoa powder
3¾ c. icing sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt.

In a saucepan, add the hot water, cocoa, and butter. Stir until the butter melts, and the mixture comes to a boil. Pour over the dry ingredients, and whisk together.

Add in eggs, buttermilk, baking soda, vanilla, and vinegar. Whisk to combine well.

Pour batter into prepared sheet pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes.

To make the frosting, while the cake is baking, combine butter, milk, and cocoa in a saucepan, until butter is melted and cocoa is incorporated. Whisk in powdered sugar and vanilla.

As soon as the hot cake comes out of the oven, pour the frosting over the cake. Go slow to avoid splashing. The frosting will be slightly absorbed by the cake.

Cool completely, slice, and serve.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bavarian Cream Pie

April means Paul’s birthday!

Paul’s birthday means some kind of chocolate and peanut butter concoction.

This year, he asked for Bavarian Cream Pie, and more specifically a with a Peanut Butter Bavarian Cream and a Chocolate crust.

However, any recipe I found did not include peanut butter anywhere, and I looked, hard. I finally decided to use a recipe for plain Bavarian Cream pie, and then add my own spin, so I am considering this recipe an original, because I changed it (fairly) significantly.

The original recipe is from this website, and I included all of my changes in the recipe below. I’m going to keep this post short, and sweet, kind of like this pie!

Happy Birthday to my love, Paul!

Ingredients

Yield: 1 9 inch pie

For the crust:

1½ c. chocolate cookie crumbs
1/3 c. sugar
1/3 c. butter, melted

For the filling:

1 pkg. unflavoured gelatin
¼ c. cold water
3 eggs, yolks and whites separated
½ c. sugar
¼ tsp. salt
1 c. milk, scalded
1/3 c. creamy peanut butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. heavy cream

To make the crust, spray a 9 inch plate with non-stick spray. In a medium bowl, combine the chocolate cookie crumbs, sugar, and melted butter. Press evenly into the pie plate, around the bottom and up the sides. Set aside.

To make the filling, whip the heavy cream in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, until thick whipped cream. Transfer to a bowl, and place in the refrigerator to stay cold.

In a small bowl, add the cold water and sprinkle the gelatin over the water to soften. Set aside.

In a heat-proof bowl over a double boiler, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, salt, and the milk until thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Mix the gelatin mixture and peanut butter into the egg yolk mixture, and whisk until smooth and well-combined. Remove from heat, and let cool until slightly thickened.

In the bowl of a mixer that is completely dry, clean, and grease-free, whip the egg whites until stiff peaks, but not completely dry.

Fold the whipped cream, vanilla and the whipped egg whites into the egg yolk mixture until smooth. Pour into the prepared crust.

Refrigerate until set.

If desired, garnish with peanut butter and chocolate chip ganache. (A 1:1 ratio of heavy cream and peanut butter or chocolate chips, heated together and whisked until smooth)

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Scones

These scones are the perfect breakfast or brunch treat! They have peanut butter in the dough, as well as in the glaze, so there is a savoury bite that goes perfectly with the sweetness of the chocolate.

It’s been a wild ride over here, as my school gears up for Exam Week and my students are going to be writing Diploma exams, so I’ve been a stress case for a few weeks. Darn it, you know you care when you stress just as much about the exam as your students do!

Anything chocolate peanut butter is a staple in our house, and these were no exception. Paul gobbled them up, and I did too, because come on, it’s chocolate and peanut butter! Match made in heaven.

These scones were also very simple to make, and the original recipe, found here, did not require any changes. This is also probably going to be a short post, because I have a lot to do to prepare for my next semester!

All I can say (and all I need to), is to go make these!

Ingredients

Yield: 8 scones

For the scones:

2 c. flour
½ c. sugar
1 tbsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
½ c. butter, cold
1/3 c. peanut butter (I used chunky for the scones)
1 egg
¼ c. sour cream
2 tbsp. milk
2 tsp. vanilla
1 c. chocolate chips

For the glaze:

½ c. icing sugar
2 tbsp peanut butter (I used smooth for the glaze)
3-4 tsp. milk

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat baking mat.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. With a pastry blender, cut in the butter and peanut butter until well-incorporated.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the egg, sour cream, milk, and vanilla. Add to the dry ingredients with the chocolate chips. Stir gently until barely combined. Pat the dough together in the bowl, then turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Form the dough into a circle about 8 inches wide.

Cut into 8 wedges, and place on the prepared baking sheet, about 1 inch apart. Bake in the preheated oven for about 12 minutes, or until golden brown.

Cool on cooling rack while making the glaze.

For the glaze, in a small bowl, whisk together the icing sugar, peanut butter, and milk to make a glaze. Add more milk for a thinner consistency, and less for thicker consistency. Put into a small icing bag, or a small ziplock bag with the corner cut. Drizzle the glaze on top of the warm scones.