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Black Forest Cakes

Prep: 45 min.
Bake: 20 min.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup snipped dried cherries
  • 3 tablespoons cherry-flavored brandy (kirsch) or cherry juice
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup chocolate-flavored syrup
  • Truffle Frosting
  • Powdered Sugar Icing (optional)
  • Powdered sugar and/or cocoa powder
  • Fresh Bing cherries with stems (optional)

Directions

1. In a small bowl, combine dried cherries and brandy or cherry juice. Let stand for 30 minutes. Generously grease and flour six popover pans;* set aside.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In another small bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In a medium bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add granulated sugar and brown sugar. Beat until combined. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat just until combined, scraping side of bowl occasionally. Stir in chocolate-flavored syrup. Add flour mixture to chocolate mixture, stirring just until combined. Stir in brandy-soaked cherries and any liquid.

3. Spoon batter into prepared popover pans, filling each half full (a scant 1/2 cup each). Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the centers comes out clean (centers may dip slightly). Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from popover pans and cool completely on wire rack. If necessary, trim cake top edges so they are even with the sides.

4. Place one cake (smallest end up) on a large slotted spoon. Hold the spoon over the bowl of Truffle Frosting. Spoon frosting over the cake, letting it drip down the sides, until the cake is coated. Let cake stand on rack over waxed paper until frosting is set. Repeat with remaining cakes. If desired, place Powdered Sugar Icing in a sturdy resealable plastic bag. Snip off a tiny portion of one corner. Pipe small dots of icing on cake tops.

5. Sift powdered sugar and/or cocoa powder over dessert plates. Place cakes on plates. If desired, garnish each one with a Bing cherry.

6. Makes 6 servings

7. *Test Kitchen Tips: Nonstick cooking spray for baking really helps these cakes unmold easily. This product is designed to grease and flour baking pans in one step. Look for it with other nonstick cooking sprays in your supermarket.

You can use six 6-ounce straight-sided ramekins instead of the popover pans. Grease and flour the ramekins. Cut three 15×12-inch pieces of foil; cut each piece in half lengthwise to make a 15×6-inch piece. Fold each into thirds lengthwise and place around top of a ramekin; secure with tape. Set aside. If you use ramekins, increase the baking time to about 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the centers comes out clean.

8. Powdered Sugar Icing: In a small bowl, combine 1 cup sifted powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon milk, and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla. Stir in additional milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, until icing reaches piping consistency.

Nutrition Facts

  • Calories 697,
  • Total Fat (g) 36,
  • Saturated Fat (g) 22,
  • Cholesterol (mg) 146,
  • Sodium (mg) 215,
  • Carbohydrate (g) 88,
  • Fiber (g) 4,
  • Protein (g) 7,
  • Vitamin C (DV%) 1,
  • Calcium (DV%) 7,
  • Iron (DV%) 18,
  • Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet

I just started offering these two gingerbread snowflake ornament decorating kits on my Christmas etsy site, bzlittlechristmaself. Save 20% off your decorating kits total by putting the code ‘wordpress’ in the message to buyer at checkout.(discount will be refunded via your PayPal account, discount does not apply to shipping cost)

Large Gingerbread Snowflake Decorating Kit

Large Gingerbread Snowflake Decorating Kit

Small Gingerbread Snowflake Decorating Kit

Small Gingerbread Snowflake Decorating Kit

[from Better Homes and Gardens]

The light will dance on these wintertime snowflakes, made from a variety of crystal-like beads.

What You Need:

For each snowflake:

Enlarge Image

It’s easy to make a blizzard’s worth
of these sparkling snowflakes.

  • 10 corsage pins with pearl ends (available in fabric and craft stores)
  • Crystal-like beads in desired shapes and sizes
  • 1 small cork
  • Iridescent white glitter paint pen (usually used for fabric, available in craft and discount stores)
  • Monofilament thread
Instructions:

1. Add beads to 4 pins. Place beads on 1 corsage pin in desired order, leaving the last 1/4 inch without beads. Make 3 more beaded pins using the same arrangement.

2. Make another set of 4 beaded pins, using a different arrangement. Make an additional set of 2 beaded pins. (You should have a total of 10 beaded pins.)

3. Add 4 matching pins to cork. Cut the cork, if necessary, so it is about 1/4 inch long. With the round side of the cork laying on the work surface, poke one beaded pin into the cork (close to work surface) like a spoke of a wheel. Place a matching beaded pin opposite the first. Place the remaining two opposite each other, between the first set.

4. Add remaining pins. Using the remaining set of 4 matching pins, poke each into the cork, slightly closer to the top of the cork and alternating with the first set of four. Place the remaining 2 beaded pins into each round end of the cork.

5. Cover the cork using glitter paint pen. Allow to dry. Apply a second coat, if necessary, and let dry.

6. To hang, cut a desired length of monofilament and tie to one spoke of the snowflake.

******************************************************************************************************************

Jazz up the classic snowflake in an unexpected way using jingle bells.

What You Need
  • 16-gauge crafts wire
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Fine crafts wire
  • Glue gun and hotmelt adhesive
  • Assorted 9-mm- to 1-inch-diameter jingle bells
How to Make It

1. Cut three 6- to 8-inch lengths of 16-gauge crafts wire.

2. Using needle-nose pliers, bend one of the wires to make a hook for hanging.

3. Cross the wire pieces in the center, wrap with fine crafts wire to secure in a spoke shape, and reinforce the wire with hot glue.

4. Hot-glue one bell over the center intersection of the wire assembly.

5. Slide bells onto each wire spoke, securing them on the back side with hot glue.

6. Trim the remaining wires.

Sugar Cookie Recipe

October 10th, 2007 by RG in Dessert Recipes, Ask A Chef

How to Make Perfect Sugar Cookies

Sugar Cookie Recipe

I received an email from Kathy about preparing the “perfect” sugar cookie. She told me she made two batches of sugar cookie dough using the same recipe and one batch turned out perfect while the other “was puffy and lost shape.”

Kathy wanted to know why this happened so I contacted my friend Chef Jennifer Field, a graduate from the Orlando Culinary Academy, for some help since I’m not much of a baker. Jennifer had a bunch of questions that were answered in Kathy’s next email. Here is what she said,

“The batches were made and cooked on different days. The second batch was refrigerated for a couple days (at least). The recipe was the same, however, I may have beat my shortening, sugar and egg mixture longer the second time. Temp the same.”

Kathy’s Definition of the Perfect Sugar Cookie

“My definition of a perfect sugar cookie is one that is light and a little crisp with the buttery icing softening it just slightly. I’m not into a fluffy cakey sugar cookie. I definitely want one that will hold the shape and design of my cutter. I want to make snowflake shaped cookies at Christmas and my cutter has little cut outs you can add for more detail.

This is the recipe I used:

1 cup sugar
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup oil
1 cup butter
2 eggs
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cup flour

I’m not sure exactly if my mixing was different either time usually I mix in this order: sugar and fats together till creamy, add eggs till fluffy, add dry ingredients that have been combined beforehand, and end with vanilla.
Bake at 325 degrees in a convection oven.

I’m anxious to hear from you and what your suggestions will be for my success.
Thanks again – Kathy”

Chef Jennifer Field’s Recommendations

With these facts in hand, Chef Jennifer was able to point out why the second batch did not turn out “perfect” plus offer some changes to Kathy’s recipe for future cookies.  Here is what she said,

“What immediately jumps out at me is the refrigeration time for the second batch of cookies.  I see that your leavener was baking soda.  Baking soda in a baked good only has one chemical reaction:  it fizzes and bubbles when it gets wet.This, of course, happened when you first mixed your ingredients together.  Since you baked your first batch immediately, the soda did its job correctly.

As your dough for the second batch chilled in the fridge, the chemical reaction ceased. Your rise was probably uneven because you beat more air into the dough (you said your mixing time was longer the second time) so, even though the soda had fizzled by the time you baked, you still had lots of little air bubbles that were probably not evenly distributed in your dough, causing a wonky rise.

I see that the recipe called for 1 teaspoon each of soda and cream of tartar.  It sounds like an old recipe.  Try substituting double acting baking powder next time.  Double acting powder has two chemical reactions:  one when it gets wet and a second one when it gets hot.  So, even if you let your dough hang out in the fridge and lose the first reaction over time, you’ll still get a fairly even second boost of leavening when you put your dough in the oven.

Since you’re also interested in your cookie holding a fairly detailed shape after baking, I’d also consider using shortening in place of the oil.  Since oil is liquid at room temperature and when heated, cookies will tend to spread a bit.  Shortening, being a solid at room temperature and a fairly slow melter, will yield a cookie with less spread.

I hope this helped!  Good luck with your baking.

Chef Jenni Field
Pastry Sous Chef
The Ravenous Pig

P.S.  Your idea of a perfect sugar cookie made me drool.  Just a little:-)”
Me too! – RG

Here is my latest project. The method is very similar to my felt elf but obviously I dress it in a ballerina’s tutu.