Thursday, November 19, 2009

Chocolate Bread Pudding with White Chocolate Sauce

This past summer in Vienna, I was introduced to the dessert, Mohr im Hemd, which translates as "A Moor in his Nightshirt." It's a chocolate steamed pudding served with whipped cream. It's one of those amazing desserts that you try your hardest to eat slowly to make the supreme yumminess last longer but end up devouring in seconds because you can't help yourself and lose control.

Just as Katie went on a quest to find the perfect Sachertorte recipe, Mary Ann has sought to master the art of creating a Mohr im Hemd worthy of the finest Viennese café. And luckily, we have been most fortunate to have been invited over now twice to sample her work. All I can say is that Mary Ann's Mohr im Hemd deserves a place of honor in the dessert case at my favorite Viennese café, Café Central. Yes, it's that good. And luckily for all of us, she has shared her recipe here.

This chocolate bread pudding recipe reminds me a little of Mohr im Hemd, sort of an American version.  I love all kinds of bread pudding, but making it chocolate does take it to a higher level. And, the white chocolate sauce is a classy final touch. Best of all, this recipe is so incredibly easy to make.

So, if you're not heading to Vienna anytime soon and you don't quite have enough time to whip up a Mohr im Hemd, try this out. There will be ooohs and aaaahs a plenty!

I borrowed a camera. It's amazing what a nice camera can do.
You can tell that each bread cube is packed with chocolate.

I'm salivating just looking at this picture.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Peanut Butter and Bacon Cookies

One of the simple pleasures in life for me is peanut butter. I, personally, am a Jif guy, but if I'm trying to be healthy, I'll choose Adam's. And, I usually go with crunchy. I practically grew up on peanut butter sandwiches. A good peanut butter sandwich was the one and only thing about the States I missed during our month in Vienna this past summer. Here's my list, and in no particular order, of favorite peanut butter sandwiches.

  • Peanut butter with spun honey (Spun is better.)
  • Peanut butter with red or purple jelly (Grape is first, and raspberry is a close second.)
  • Peanut butter with dill pickle (I read about it in a book as a kid, tried it, and loved it.)
  • Peanut butter with marshmallow cream (I've heard that back east it's called a fluffernutter.)
  • Peanut butter with chocolate chips (milk chocolate, semi-sweet, dark, white chocolate, whatever)
  • Peanut butter with potato chips (salty and crunchy)
  • Peanut butter with banana (Elvis knew what he was doing.)
I think peanut butter just makes everything better. What's one of my favorite ingredients on pizza? Yep, you guessed it. And I'm not talking about peanut butter on one of those dessert pizza things. This is real pizza. All you do is spread a thin layer of peanut butter on your crust, add the sauce, sprinkle on cheese, put on toppings of your choice, and bake. Now, wipe that disgusted look off your face and go try it. It really is good!

Why am I writing about peanut butter? Well, recently I heard about someone making peanut butter and bacon cookies. Really? Peanut butter and bacon together? Two flavors that I love? In my opinion, pure genius! I had to give it a try. I took my favorite and extremely easy peanut butter cookie recipe and added diced cooked bacon. And, it worked! First, you taste the peanut butter. Then, you hit a chewy little piece of bacon. As you chew the bacon, both flavors combine into absolute yumminess.

Seriously, give this recipe a try. If you still can't get past the idea of meat in cookies, just leave the bacon out. This is still a great peanut butter cookie!

*Sidenote* I'm sure that some of you who know me are thinking, "Isn't Curtis a flexitarian and doesn't he avoid sugar?" Well yes, that's true. Sugar is only for special occasions, and I try to eat meat only sparingly. But once in a while, you come across a recipe like this, and you've got to give it a try.

The ones with chocolate–no bacon.
The ones without chocolate–with bacon.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Chocolate Truffle Torte

And once again, it's birthday time at the office. I wanted to make something that would wow the crowd. Katie's Sachertorte would have done the trick, but late on a Sunday night, I didn't have the energy. I then remembered this recipe , a guaranteed surefire showstopper. And the bonus is that it's incredibly easy to make with very little clean up afterward. In no time at all, I had a thick fudgy cake with a beautiful glossy chocolate glaze ready to take to work.

As it turned out, however, most of the students, including the birthday girl, had other commitments on Monday. Hmmm... A dilemma. What should I do with this cake. I brought the cake home, and we contemplated for a split second giving the cake away. But then, we quickly remembered it was Family Home Evening night, and we didn't have a treat. There. Problem solved. And oooh, it was yummy!

With a cake this simple to make, I had no problem whipping up another to bring to the office on Wednesday when all the students would be there. And the cake did not disappoint.

Here is my recommendation. If you want to impress and have the time, make the Sachertorte. If you need something faster, go for this Chocolate Truffle Torte.

Heather with her birthday torte. I can't figure out how to put it into words how much I love this cake. But then, I remembered a cartoon from my youth, Quick Draw McGraw. Do you remember how Quick Draw's dog, Snuffles, reacted to dog biscuits? Well, I'm pretty much the same with each bite of this torte. If you have no clue what I'm talking about, click here

Monday, November 9, 2009

Katie's Sachertorte

This past summer, we had the incredibly amazing opportunity to spend a month in Vienna with the family . The kids and I tagged along as Katie taught in the BYU Study Abroad program. While there, we got to experience Viennese café culture. If you're interested in learning more, I blogged about it here and  here. So many wonderful cafés but simply not enough time and money. We did make it to the most famous cafés, especially the granddaddy of them all, the Hotel Sacher Café. This is where the world reknowned Sachertorte comes from. Since I was spending my 44th birthday in Austria, I knew what my birthday cake HAD to be. And let me tell you, nothing could have been finer! Not only was the Café Sacher beautiful and full of character, the cake lived up to the hype in every way. I really hope our Austria trip wasn't just a once-in-a-lifetime experience and that we get to go back some day.

(Click to enlarge) At the Sacher Hotel for my 44th 
birthday. That cheesy grin is my "I'm in Viennese
Confectionery Heaven!" look.

Since our return, Katie has been on a quest to find a Sachtertorte recipe that rivals the original. (Just so you know, the original recipe is a highly guarded secret.) After trying several recipes and doing some modyfing and changing, Katie's done it. When I take a bite of her cake, my mouth is full of joy, and I'm transported back to Philharmonikerstraße 4.

On Saturday, there was a Study Abroad reunion party, and we knew what we had to bring. Katie let me be her sous chef. (This was a shocker. We have quite different cooking styles, and I usually end up annoying her.) This is a recipe that takes some effort, but it's so worth it. If you can't make it over to Vienna to experience it firsthand, try this recipe, this recipe is a darn good second. Take it slow and carefully, and I promise you will win friends and influence people!

Katie's version. Notice the same
cheesy grin? Yep, this cake is good.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Chocolate Chip Sour Cream Coffee Cake

It's birthday time at the office again, and you know what that means. Cake!

I thought I'd make another favorite recipe from the old bed and breakfast days. It's incredibly easy to make and really good. I especially love it with a glass of very cold milk or a cup of hot cocoa.

And while I'm thinking of the innkeeping days, here are a couple of pictures. The B&B was in a building that looked like a castle. Unfortunately, we don't really have any good pictures of the building because the life of an innkeeper is incredibly nonstop busy, and we seriously had a spare moment. Also, this was in the days before digital photography, so we didn't take many photos anyways. Chloe was three when we lived there and was definitely THE princess of the castle. Her bedroom was even in a turret.

Of course, Chloe had to be a princess for Halloween that
year. And here she is gazing down over her kingdom
from her tower.

Autumn, the birthday girl, with  her cake. 
And yes, THE princess of the office. 

Moist cinnamony, chocolately goodness!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Millennium Toffee Bars

This is another Ivy Café favorite. We tried these amazing toffee bars and "My! Oh! My!" We knew we couldn't live without them in Utah, and this is why our Ivy Café cookbook is one of our prized possessions.

I've made these for birthdays at the office, Katie's made them for her students as they were about to take a final exam, and we've made them for neighborhood Christmas gifts. For a while, we were really out of control making them at least twice a week. We were inventing all kinds of reasons to make them–it's a full moon, it's the dog's birthday, it's Thursday! I finally had a toffee bar overdose. I'm now better (thank you very much). But now, I recommend cutting them into small bite size pieces. Eat one or two and then give them all away IMMEDIATELY. If you don't, I promise you won't be able to stop eating them. But, if you get addicted, maybe we can start a support group.

PS I have no idea why they are called Millennium Toffee Bars. I like Katie's theory. If the end of the world is  is upon us. This is the last thing you want to eat before you die.

Remember, small bite size pieces. 
Slow and steady wins the race.