Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Zuccotto, the Italian Bombe

Summer birthdays can sometimes be a bummer. I know because I was born in July. I remember wanting to invite friends over for a birthday party, and they were all gone on vacation. Also, I never got to celebrate my birthday in elementary school. I remember in two different years where the teacher told the kids with summer birthdays that we'd have a group celebration at the end of the year. Both times, the teacher forgot about it. I don't think I was scarred for life, but still...

At the office, I bring in cake for birthdays. One student I work with has a summer birthday, so we decided to celebrate 1/2 birthdays. And, I was not going to forget.

The night before I looked through recipes trying to decide what to make. I came across a cake that I have wanted to try for many years, a chocolate bomb with banana custard filling. A bombe is a cake molded in a bowl by layering cake with mousse or ice cream. The photo in the cook book looked amazing, but as I reread through the recipe, I remembered why I've never tried it. It takes quite a bit of time to make, and time wasn't on my side. Once again, this cake would have to wait. I asked Katie for ideas, and she reminded me of a cake we tried a few years back . It's called Zuccotto, and it's basically an Italian bombe. I did a little research and found the cake was inspired by the dome cathedral in Florence.

This cake is a triple threat. First, it's a show stopper. Make this, and I promise you many "oohs" and "aahs". Secondly, it tastes phenomenal. And finally and most importantly, it's dang easy to make.

Give this cake a try, and enjoy!

Happy birthday, Matt! You're the bombe bomb!

Even though I'm still dealing with a simple point-and-shoot
camera, I think you can still get the idea this cake is 
soooo good.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Chocolate Angel Food Cake with Amachukalam


Exactly. That's what I thought when I first heard it twenty years ago. That's when my mother-in-law made me this cake for my birthday.

Amachukalam is the frosting, which is famous in my wife's family. Not much is known about its origin, but legend has it this creamy, chocolatey, yummy stuff got it's name many years ago from my wife's great-grandmother.

There are many uses for Amachukalan. Obviously, it's great on cake, but it's also wonderful on pancakes, in a trifle, as a fruit dip, as a topping for hot cocoa, or as a crepe filling. The possibilities are endless. And, I've even been known to just eat it plain.

A main ingredient in Amachukalam is whipped cream. The recipe as given to me calls for a tub of Cool Whip, which I think is fine if you're in a hurry. But, I wanted to recreate the true and authentic recipe, and I wasn't even sure if Cool Whip was around in Great Grandma's time. Thanks to the Internet, I discovered that Cool Whip was introduced in 1967*. So, it had to be real homemade whipped cream.  However, I then started to to wonder about instant pudding. Luckily, Jello introduced instant chocolate  pudding in 1936.

If you know me, I never use boxed cake mixes; however, this cake is one exception. Angel food cakes take a lot of egg whites and a fair amount of work. You can make this cake from scratch (I recommend Alton Brown's recipe), but it is super easy and quick with a mix. And in my opinion, it tastes just as well.

This week was another birthday at work. Whitney turned 20, and since it was 20 years ago that I first had this cake, I thought it was very appropriate.

*While researching, I found out the inventor of Cool Whip, William A. Mitchell, also invented quickset Jello, Tang, and even Pop Rocks.

I know it looks good, but Whitney, can I
get you a fork? 

Happy 20th!

Light and airy like a chocolate snowflake on your tongue
(Thanks, Katie, for that interesting description.)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Indian Vegetable Curry

It's the new year, and here's something to help you with that resolution to live a little healthier. You might be thinking, "It's about time you post something that's good for you!" I think so, too. I've certainly got some pounds I'd like to get rid of.

This mild curry dish is also vegetarian. For about the past eight months, I've been a flexitarian, and I must say, I do feel better. I know there are also many people who do the Meatless Monday thing. This recipe is perfect for that.

I knew this dish was a winner when our two boys, who avoid most vegetables, cleaned their plates and asked for more.

Give this recipe a try and feel good that you are progressing towards checking off at least one New Year's resolution from your list.

So full of flavor, you won't miss the meat. And, lemon wedges
are a must!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Death by Chocolate Cake

It's New Year's Eve 2009. We've been invited over to some friends' house to celebrate, and I want to bring something special.

Since the year is dying, how about a Death by Chocolate cake? Something so completely loaded with chocolate that after one slice you roll over and die a most happy death. Yep, that's what I'm talking about!

This chocolate creation is five layers of chocolate cake separated with a chocolate cream filling. If you wanted, you could quit right here, dust it with powdered sugar, and call it good. But, to achieve ultimate chocolate overkill, I put on a dark chocolate glaze made with Lindt dark chocolate (85% cocoa), and then I topped all off with milk chocolate curls (Guittard milk chocolate is my favorite).

I spent a good part of the day involved with this cake. Was it worth it? You betcha! No one actually died, but we all went to Chocolate Heaven!