Olive Oil Dipping Sauce

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You know those moments where all seems right in the world? Where you are overwhelmed with feelings of contentment and you try to take a mental snapshot so you can refer back to it when some days are less than great? I recently experienced that. I was driving home on back roads after spending the day with my mother. It was a gorgeous day and the temperature was just right for cruising with the windows down. I had my IPod on shuffle when a song from Sam Cooke came on. Sam Cooke was one of my grandmother’s favorite singers, or so I think- she seemed to listen to his music a lot. I know most of his greatest hits and the melody that was coming out of my speakers sent me back to endless summers spent vacationing with family in Ontario, Canada. I remembered the sensation of my bare feet in the evening grass, the sound of crickets chirping throughout the night, and the smell of bacon in my grandmother’s kitchen around dinner time (my favorite time).

Of course, there was a dull ache in my stomach from the sadness of missing my grandparents; but I also had a overriding feeling of thankfulness for my wonderful childhood experiences and excitement of the memories that are still waiting to be made. I couldn’t help but smile. It was a nearly perfect blip in time.

On an unrelated note- this recipe for olive oil dipping sauce served with fresh artisan bread is a great starter for summer meals on the back porch. Fresh or dried herbs can be used and I prefer to quadruple the herb mixture and save it for use on several occasions. It’s easy and delicious.

Happy Monday, everyone!

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Olive Oil Dipping Sauce

Printable Version

Ingredients

  • 1/4 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon rosemary
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (or according to your taste)
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Directions

1. Stir together the dry spices in a small bowl. Mix in the garlic until it’s dispersed evenly.

2. Place herb mixture on a small plate. Pour olive oil over herb mixture and serve with fresh artisan bread.

Source: My Baking Addiction

A Gender Reveal Cake

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A little over a month ago, I had the honor of making a gender reveal cake for a lovely fellow physical therapist and her husband. I was so excited. In case you haven’t heard of this type of cake before, the expecting couple has the ultrasound tech write down the gender of baby during the “big” ultrasound. The tech then puts the secret information into an envelope and the couple gives it to a baker, who then either bakes a pink or blue cake and/or fills the cake with pink or blue icing.

The beautiful momma-to-be requested a white cake with vanilla buttercream frosting and a coconut garnish. I used my favorite white cake and buttercream recipe┬áto make it all happen. I then tinted the icing that would fill the cake with the top secret dye color, which by the way ended up all over my hands. I had to scrub and scrub to clean everything off- for a few minutes I thought I’d need to wear gloves when I delivered the cake. Crisis averted. Whew!

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It was so much fun doing this type of cake. The anticipation of the couple cutting in and finding out whether they would be having a son or daughter had me on edge.

Oh and by the way…

here’s what I filled the cake with…

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It’s a GIRL! Congratulations you two. She will be one lucky baby.

German Chocolate Cupcakes

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I’ve been having a few posting issues lately, but I think everything is back on track now. Whew!

I made these German chocolate cupcakes for a co-worker’s birthday last month and I was very happy with the end result. I branched away from my favorite chocolate cake recipe and used a sturdier, but still delightfully chocolatey cupcake version. And with this being an Ina Garten recipe, I knew I could trust the frosting. It was, as Ina would say, fabulous. I don’t often use coconut in my kitchen because I love it, but I have a husband who hates it and that would not equal a good equation for my health (i.e. I would be passed out in the corner in a coconut coma). Nonetheless, when I get a request for German chocolate cake from a friend/family member in the future, I will definitely be making these again.

As a side note: Ina’s recipe reports it only yields 14-15 cupcakes, but I used a smaller scoop and squeeze out 20 generous cakes.

German Chocolate Cupcakes

Printable Version

Ingredients

For the cupcakes:

  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons freshly brewed coffee
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

For the Frosting:

  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 12-ounce can evaporated milk
  • 1 1/4 cups light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line pans with cupcake liners.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, whip together the butter and sugars on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Lower the speed to medium, then add the eggs one at a time until well combined (scraping down the sides as necessary). Add in the vanilla and mix well.

3. In another medium-sized bowl, whisk together the sour cream, buttermilk, and coffee. Next, in a third bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt). With the mixer on low, add the buttermilk and flour mixtures alternately in thirds, beginning with the buttermilk and ending with the flour. Be careful not to over mix the batter- mix until just combined.

4. Scoop the batter into the cupcake liners. Bake in the center of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes, remove from the pans, and allow to cool completely before frosting.

To Make the Coconut Frosting:

5. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the evaporated milk, brown sugar, and egg yolks and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Continue to simmer, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, for about 15 minutes, until slightly thickened.  Take the mixture off the heat, stir in the vanilla extract, almond extract, coconut, pecans, and salt. Allow to cool for about an hour. Frost the cupcakes with a small metal spatula. Store in an airtight container.

Source: Ina Garten