Monthly Archives: November 2014

Decorative Turkeys for Thanksgiving

turkey 003

I saw these little guys in a video that Giada de Laurentis posted to the Food Network site; I haven’t been able to find it a second time. In it, she gave credit for them to a young boy in a hospital she was visiting; I believe his name was Kaden.

Anyway, I thought they were very cute, and decided to post them to my web site.

The hardest part of all this was finding the candy corn; one grocery manager said they only had it available at Halloween. I went to 4 stores before I found it.

turkey 010

Start with a Double Stuffed Oreo, and stick the candy corn in as the tail feathers. Once you have the tail feathers in, you will start needing your glue; I melted 3 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate chips in the microwave which is more than enough for a couple dozen turkeys. Just remember, melt the chocolate slowly so you don’t burn it; not more than 20 seconds at a time with stirring in between.

Use a small Peanut Butter cup as the body; dip the top in your “glue” and place it toward the bottom of the tail Oreo. The head is glued on next; it is a Chocolate Malt Ball. The beak is the tip of a candy corn broken off; again, glue it onto the Malt Ball.

At this point, I let the turkey rest for a couple minutes to let the “glue” dry; it seemed fairly solid in the laid down position. Once it seems stable, the bottom/feet of the turkey are dipped in the glue and then pressed into the open Oreo. Giada used some of the double stuffed Oreos as the base, making the turkey stand in snow. I decided to get the mint Oreos so my turkeys are standing in grass.

The one step further that Giada took and I have omitted is that she made some red frosting and piped a wattle on the turkey; I felt that wasn’t necessary, and wasn’t quite in keeping in the assembly of the turkeys where the only help needed from an adult is in melting the chocolate “glue” and keeping it warm. I had to reheat my glue between finishing 13 turkeys, and then mounting them on the grass.

Slutty Brownies

This is the second recipe that I got when I visited daughter Mindy in August. I have cooked it here at home a couple times, and feel I need to put some effort into changing it slightly. As it stands, the recipe calls for a 9 x 9 inch pan; that is an area of 81 square inches. I felt that when Mindy cooked the recipe, it was overflowing the pan; she used an 8 x 8 inch pan.

sluts 007

Few people I know have a 9 x 9 baking pan; the common size is 8 x 8 or 64 square inches of area. So I feel I need to reduce the recipe to about ¾ of its current size. That will take some experimenting since it is difficult to take an integer number of eggs and use only a fraction; i.e. the recipe calls for 1 egg in the cookie dough part, and 2 eggs in the brownie layer part. Reducing the recipe straight on would make that ¾ of an egg and 1 ½ eggs. Ouch! A bunch of the other measures would also lead to inconvenient values- not the ¼, 1/3, ½, 2/3 and ¾ values for which we have measures.

I am now adding two new versions of the Slutty Brownie recipe. The first reduces the amount of ingredients so that it fits nicely in an 8 x 8 pan. Even when I reduced the size, I still felt the brownies were too tall; that it was difficult to get my mouth around them. So I reduced the recipe still further so that the final brownies are thinner; about 1 inch high. Both of these recipes are at the end of this article; you can get there by clicking on this update.

So I am committed to re-editing this article when I have found the correct combination of ingredients. When I did make this recipe, the first time I used a 10 inch cake pan; surprisingly that is indeed an 81 square inch area. (Area = pi * radius squared; 81 = 3.14 * r squared; r squared = 81 / 3.14 = 25.8; square root of 25.8 = ~5.0; 2 * r= diameter = 10 inches). I was quite happy with how the recipe worked. I was unhappy with the many pieces that were triangular in shape when I cut the brownies because the pieces were along the round edges of the cake pan.

sluts 001

The second time I made the recipe, I used a 7 x 11 baking pan; that has an area of 77 square inches that is really quite close to the 81 of the 9 x 9 pan. I think if you have a 7 x 11 pan, this is one place to use it.

Okay, here is the recipe for an 81 square inch area.

Slutty Brownies 81

Cookie Dough Layer

Ingredients

  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cup AP flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Brownie Layer

Ingredients

  • 10 Tbsp butter
  • 1 1/4 cups white sugar
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup AP flour

Oreo Layer

Ingredients

  • 1 package Oreo cookies (either regular or double stuffed)

Directions

Cookie Dough Layer:

Cream together the butter and sugars in a mixer. Add the egg and vanilla, making sure to scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl. Add the flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder and mix on low until everything is incorporated. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Brownie Layer:

In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter over medium high heat. Add the sugar and cocoa powder once the butter is melted. Whisk to combine and remove from heat. Add the salt, vanilla and eggs and continuously whisk until the eggs are combined. Add the flour and continue to mix.

Assembly:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Line the bottom of a 9 x 9 baking pan with foil and then spray the foil with baking spray.

Layer the cookie dough on the bottom of the 9 x 9 baking pan, pressing down to form the bottom of the slutty brownies.

Layer as many Oreo cookies as can fit on top of the cookie dough layer. Do not overlap the Oreos, but I cut some Oreos to fill the larger gaps in this layer.

Pour the brownie batter on top of the Oreo layer and make certain it’s evenly layered on top.

Bake for 30-35 minutes. Test with a knife to see if the center is done. (it might still show some chocolate on the knife, but not much and not very liquid). Let the brownies rest before cutting and serving.


I hope you were able to follow the idea that the key is the area of the baking pan, and it needs to be as close to 81 square inches as possible. When I finish experimenting and learn how to make the brownies in an 8 x 8 pan, I will add that information to this article. If you would like a personal email when I get to that point, and are not a subscriber to my WidowerRecipes blog, send me a note and I will let you know when I have upgraded this article.


And so here we are with the promised updates for an 8 x 8 pan. As mentioned near the front of this article, there are two recipes; I call them Slutty Brownies 64 Thick, and Slutty Brownies 64 Thin to differentiate the one which only reduces the ingredients enough to make a nice 8 x 8 pan that is almost identical to the original 9 x 9 recipe which is labeled Slutty Brownies 81. The second recipe reduces the height of the brownie from about 2 inches to about 1 inch.

Slutty Brownies 64 Thick

Ingredients

Cookie Dough Layer:
• 6T butter at room temperature
• 3T brown sugar
• 1/2 cup white sugar
• 1 egg
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• 1 cup AP flour
• 1/4 tsp salt
• 3/8 tsp baking soda
• 3/8 tsp baking powder
• 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Brownie Layer:
• 8 Tbsp butter
• 1 cups white sugar
• 1/2 cup cocoa powder
• 1/4 tsp salt
• 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
• 2 large eggs
• 1/3 cup AP flour

Oreo Layer:
• 16 Oreo cookies (either regular or double stuffed)

Directions

The directions are identical to the original recipe except to use an 8 x 8 pan.

Cookie Dough Layer:

Cream together the butter and sugars in a mixer. Add the egg and vanilla, making sure to scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl. Add the flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder and mix on low until everything is incorporated. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Brownie Layer:

In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter over medium high heat. Add the sugar and cocoa powder once the butter is melted. Whisk to combine and remove from heat. Add the salt, vanilla and eggs and continuously whisk until the eggs are combined. Add the flour and continue to mix.

Assembly:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Line the bottom of a 8 x 8 baking pan with foil and then spray the foil with baking spray.

Layer the cookie dough on the bottom of the 8 x 8 baking pan, pressing down to form the bottom of the slutty brownies.

Layer the 16 Oreo cookies on top of the cookie dough layer. Do not overlap the Oreos; I found the 16 Oreos were a perfect fit in the 8 x 8 pan.

Pour the brownie batter on top of the Oreo layer and make certain it’s evenly layered on top.

Bake for 30-35 minutes. Test with a knife to see if the center is done. (it might still show some chocolate on the knife, but not much and not very liquid). Let the brownies rest before cutting and serving.



And next is the thin version of the recipe. You will find the cookie dough layer quite different from the above versions of the recipe because there is no way to reduce 1 egg into a fraction of an egg. As a result, the cookie dough is very soft; rather than pushing and patting it into the bottom of the pan, you will need to pour it in, and then spread it with a small offset spatula.

sluts 010

We also reduced the height of the Oreo layer by reducing the Oreo cookies to crumbs. I put them into a gallon freezer bag and beat them up until they were crumbs, held together by the white center creme; the center almost completely lost its identity since the crumbs cling to it and the white no longer shows through. Other than that, the recipes are similar.

Slutty Brownies 64 Thin

Ingredients:

Cookie Dough Layer:
• 3T butter at room temperature
• 1 1/2T brown sugar
• 1/4 cup white sugar
• 1 egg
• 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
• 1/2 cup AP flour
• 1/8 tsp salt
• 1/4 tsp baking soda
• 1/4 tsp baking powder
• 2 ¼ oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Brownie Layer:
• 4 Tbsp butter
• 1/2 cups white sugar
• 1/4 cup cocoa powder
• 1/8 tsp salt
• 3/4 tsp vanilla extract
• 1 large eggs
• 5 Tbsp AP flour

Oreo Layer:
• 10 Oreo cookies (either regular or double stuffed) smashed to crumbs

Directions

Cookie Dough Layer:

Cream together the butter and sugars in a mixer. Add the egg and vanilla, making sure to scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl. Add the flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder and mix on low until everything is incorporated. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Brownie Layer:

In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter over medium high heat. Add the sugar and cocoa powder once the butter is melted. Whisk to combine and remove from heat. Add the salt, vanilla and eggs and continuously whisk until the eggs are combined. Add the flour and continue to mix.

Assembly:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Line the bottom of a 8 x 8 baking pan with foil and then spray the foil with baking spray.

Pour the cookie dough on the bottom of the 8 x 8 baking pan,smoothing it out to form the bottom of the slutty brownies.

Layer the Oreo cookie crumbs on top of the cookie dough layer. Push the crumbs around to cover the cookie dough layer as well as possible.

Pour the brownie batter on top of the Oreo layer and make certain it’s evenly layered on top.

Bake for 25-30 minutes. Test with a knife to see if the center is done. (it might still show some chocolate on the knife, but not much and not very liquid). Let the brownies rest before cutting and serving.

S’mores bars

During my August trip to Seattle, my daughter Mindy had made these S’mores bar cookies for us. They disappeared fast enough that I asked her for the recipe, and have now made it a couple times at home. I have made some adjustments to it to fix things I felt were wrong.

smores 006

I very much dislike working with marshmallow creme, and I also like a smaller, 2-bite type of cookie. So I kept working with this recipe trying to fix what I didn’t like. I don’t have good results yet, but what I did is shown in Update 1down below.

S’mores Bars Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large milk chocolate bars (each should be 4 inches x 8 inches)
  • 7 ounces marshmallow creme
  • Directions:

    Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan.

    In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt. Add to butter mixture and mix at a low speed until combined.

    Divide dough in half and press half of dough into an even layer on the bottom of the prepared pan. Place chocolate bars over dough (2 large Hershey’s bars should fit perfectly side by side, but break the chocolate, if necessary, to get it to fit in a single layer no more than 1/4 inch thick).

    Spread marshmallow creme over chocolate layer. Place remaining dough in a single layer on top of the marshmallow (most easily achieved by flattening the dough into small, flat shingles and laying them together).

    Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool completely before cutting into bars

    smores 003

    I have a couple words of advice in making these bars. First, when preparing to top the marshmallow layer with the final dough layer, I found if I rolled the dough out into a piece as near to 8 x 8 as I could, it was easiest to put it on the marshmallow layer. I placed the dough ball under a sheet of plastic film, rolled it, cut it into four pieces about 4 inches x 4 inches, and then used a large offset spatula to lift the dough off the rolling surface and place it on the marshmallow creme.

    The second piece of advice is to indeed completely cool the cookies before trying to cut them. Even though the pan feels cool, and the top of the dough feels cool, the chocolate might still be liquid. That happened to me; I cut the bars before the chocolate had set up again, and it was running all over. Not cool. So maybe you will want to cool the cookies in the pan overnight before cutting them.

    Update 1

    My work on making this recipe into a small, 2-bite cookie was not a great success. The results were very inconsistent. However, I feel I need to show what I did, and how it worked. Here is a photo of one of the results.

    Smores 001

    What I did was form the cookies in the cups of a mini-muffin tin, and use chocolate chips and mini marshmallows to get the flavoring. The details are as follows:


    Make the dough as in the original recipe. Spray the muffin tins.

    Place 1 Tablespoon of the dough into each of 23 of the muffin tin cups. Using your finger, press the dough into a cup shape; as you press the bottom down, the dough will naturally build up the sides of the muffin tin.

    Place 4 chocolate chips and 3 mini marshmallows into each of the 23 cups.

    Place 1/2 Tablespoon of the dough on top of each of the 23 muffin tin cups; push the dough down and around to join the dough that has formed the cup, totally enclosing the chocolate chips and marshmallows.

    Cook at the 350 degrees F used for the original recipe, but only for about 17 minutes. Cool in the muffin tins.

    It is interesting but having tried this direction several times now, I can only get 23 cookies from the recipe; if I try for 24, I don’t have enough dough to cover the last 2 cookies. That is not all bad; the cookies come out with the browned marshmallows showing on top.

    The cookies tend to blossom over the top of the muffin cups- and besides I don’t want you using a knife on the tins. I found that by holding the outside edges of the cookie- finger and thumb on opposite sides- and rotating the cookie slowly and evenly it loosens and will come out of the muffin tin in one piece.

    My disappointment in these cookies is that they seem to be inconsistent depending upon how well I am able to get the top dough sealed to the bottom cup dough. And, the marshmallow seems to melt into the dough and not stay visible. So unlike a real s’more, the marshmallow and chocolate are hidden. Still, the cookies are very addictive.

    I have given up on the 2-bite version of the recipe for now- I’m full of s’mores. But I want to still work on placing the top dough on the original version of the recipe; that seems like it could be done better than what I did before.

Splash- another Pull-Apart cake

Alli had a pool party for her birthday, and I was asked to make another pull-apart cake for it. The specifications were to use regular size cupcakes, the overall shape was to be a star, the cakes were to be chocolate, and the frosting was to be pink and blue. This is what I made.

splash 003

I thought naming the character “Splash” was right in keeping with the theme of a pool party. (There appear to be wrinkles in the covering of the cake board- sorry about that).

Again, the starting point was determining the layout of the cupcakes. I did the initial testing with the men from our Backgammon set; there are 16 of each color so I could definitely test how 25 would go. At that point, I did indeed have 25 pieces in the star shape, although the star wasn’t the perfect straight lines that my engineering mind wanted. I was concerned about the size of the board necessary to hold the star, and after some testing with cupcake papers, decided I needed a 2 foot square, which meant I needed to plan on covering the board for health sake. I ended up with 1/4 inch plywood.

Once I had the layout and base all planned, it was only necessary to decide on the frosting. I decided the pink, if light enough, could be skin and I could make the star into a girl with blue clothes. Once I thought about the pool aspect of the party, I was almost there- the clothes would be a bathing suit. I had to go on-line and check the department stores to determine the form of a young girl’s bathing suit, and when it showed two piece suits, I felt comfortable separating the top from the dress part. Then I had to worry about the face, feet and hands. I decided the feet and hands would be with nail polish and that would be enough. Having made red for those features, I had lipstick for the face. I just needed the eyes. I have been seeing ads on TV for “Manga” eyes which seemed to accent the lashes and dark outlines so I decided to make the figure have what I thought were Manga eyes.

Finally, I decided to put the girl’s hair up in a top-knot to keep it out of the way- of course, this also helped cover that last pointed cupcake at the top of the head.

Around the star I used up the extra cupcakes- both regular size and minis. The red roses on the mini-cupcakes are from a false start I made in planning the clothes for the figure; I felt I wanted to have roses on her clothes, but as I went to the idea of swim wear, there seemed no place for the roses- except to tie up her hair. Having made the roses in advance so they would be dry when I decorated the figure, I had them and no plan for them so when I placed the extra cupcakes around the figure, I decorated the cupcakes with the roses.

Fillings for Chocolates

Since taking the class at Blake’s Decorette ShopChocolate Boxes and Truffles Class– I have been making chocolates in molded shells. I like the way those come out better than the dipped chocolates. And I have experimented with quite a few fillings, including those I got in the class. I thought it might be time to either point to the fillings, or write them up here.

I also took a poll among friends as to which chocolate fillings were the best. It is interesting that fillings based on cookies seem to be universally liked among the best. When it came to using truffles as the filling, opinions got mixed.

This was universally the best liked filling. I got the recipe from the chocolate class; I had never heard of Biscoff Cookies and Spread, and finally found them at the World Market.

Biscoff Ganache

  • 1 cup semi-sweet or bitter-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup Biscoff Cookie spread
  • 20 Biscoff Cookies (crushed)

Melt the chocolate, stir in cookie spread and crushed cookies. Let sit until firm enough to roll.

Probably the second best liked filling was the simple one made from OREO cookies. I happened to find this on the internet.

OREO Cookie

  • 16 oz package of OREO chocolate sandwich cookies
  • 8 oz package of cream cheese

Crush 36 cookies to fine crumbs; place in a medium bowl.

Add the cream cheese and mix until well blended.

The review comments for the OREO cookie filling mentioned that others had tried making other cookie type fillings. The most common mentioned was Nutter Butter. So I tried that, but discovered that you have to be a peanut butter lover to like it. It wasn’t quite as popular as the OREO cookie filling

Nutter Butter Cookie

  • 1 package Nutter Butter cookies
  • 8 oz cream cheese

Crush the cookies to fine crumbs and place in a medium bowl. Add the cream cheese and mix until well blended.

Once I got using cookies as fillings, I started searching the cookie aisle in the store for interesting flavors. I found a Lemon-Coconut cookie, and made that into a filling. I would say it was interesting, but it didn’t get a lot of votes.

Lemon Coconut Cookie

  • 7 oz Lemon Coconut cookies
  • 4 oz cream cheese

The cookies come in a smaller package, so I reduced the amount of cream cheese accordingly. Crush the cookies into fine crumbs and add the cream cheese; mix until well blended.


My last cookie type filling was a Fudge-Mint cookie. I felt the mint flavor was too strong, but people that like mint really liked the chocolates with this filling.

Fudge Mint Cookie

  • 10 oz Fudge Mint cookies
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 2 tsp peppermint extract

Crush the cookies into fine crumbs and add the cream cheese and peppermint extract; mix until well blended.


I felt I needed to try another idea that I got from the chocolate class- jam with white chocolate ganache. They gave me the recipe for the white chocolate ganache, and believe me, a simple ganache doesn’t work. I tried a couple different fillings that didn’t work because they were lighter than the dark chocolate I used for the shell of the chocolates, and so the sealing chocolate would sink and the filling would rise and the shell was never sealed with the filling inside. Ouch! Like the simple white chocolate ganache, port is too light to stay in the chocolate when I went to seal it.

Jam with White Chocolate Ganache

  • 16 0z white chocolate (finely chopped)
  • 10 oz Heavy Cream
  • 4 Tbs butter (unsalted)
  • 4 Tbs sugar
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Place the chocolate in a medium bowl. Combine the cream, butter and sugar in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Pour the heated butter/cream mixture over the chopped chocolate and let sit for 2 -3 monutes. Vigorously stir the mixture until all the chocolate is melted; then slowly add the vanilla and stir until a smooth ganache is formed.

I use about 1/4 tsp of jam in the bottom of the shell, then pipe the white chocolate ganache on top of that. I like to use a red jam such as raspberry or strawberry.

Last year, I was making truffles, and developed my own recipe for a coffee and chocolate truffle. I took that recipe and used it as a filling, and it works very well.

Coffee & Chocolate Truffle

  • 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, in small pieces
  • 4 oz. semisweet chocolate, in small pieces
  • 1/4 lb butter, in small pieces
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 Tbs Instant Expresso Coffee
  • 2 Tbs. Kahlua
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Measure into a couple dishes the sugar and coffee powder, and the Kahlua and vanilla seasoning.

Put the chocolate and butter into a medium bowl and melt the ingredients using either a bane marie or microwave technique.

When the chocolate & butter are all melted and smooth, take it off the heat and stir in the sugar and seasonings.

Now wait for the chocolate dough to come down in temperature so that it is workable. I use it at a stage where it can be piped. It will keep in the refrigerator, and then when wanting to use it again, heat it for a few seconds in the microwave, and stir it to re-incorporate the butter.

I like these with a touch of salt; I put a few grains of sea salt into the shell before piping in the filling.

When I was trying to develop my coffee/chocolate truffle recipe, I also found on the internet, truffle recipes from Ina Garten and Alex Guarnaschilli. I liked both of those truffles, and made them again as fillings for chocolate shells.

Other Truffle Recipes (Ina’s and Alex’s)

Because these are published elsewhere, I am not allowed to republish the recipes without permission from the site owners. Thus I am limited to giving pointers to the recipes.
Alex Guarnaschelli’s Valentine’s Day Truffles
Alex’s truffle as filling is best with a few grains of sea salt placed into the shell before piping the truffle mixture into the shell.
Ina Garten’s Chocolate Truffles
In all cases of using truffle recipes, be careful to not include any powdering of the truffle, but only use the center material of the truffle. Truffle recipes almost always include something that the truffle is rolled in after it is formed.

At the chocolate class, I got a hint about making a Peanut Butter Ganache. Since a lot of people like peanut butter, I made a ganache as a filling; I am surprised not more people liked it. How does Reese make their peanut butter cups so popular??

Peanut Butter Ganache

  • 2 parts peanut butter
  • 1 part confectioners’ sugar

I think this would be best using smooth peanut butter; it is difficult to control the placement of the nut fragments in chunky peanut butter.

This summer, I was experimenting with salted caramel in cookies. It seems to be a very popular flavor these days, and so I wanted to try using it as a filling for chocolate shells. There are two good sources of salted caramel; one is chips that I bought at the Decorette shop, and the other is Rolos. In this case, I used the chips and converted them into a simple ganache.

Salted Caramel Ganache

  • 16 oz salted caramel chips
  • 8 oz heavy cream
  • 4 Tablespoons butter

Heat the cream and butter until it is just starting to boil, then pour it over the chips. Wait a couple minutes for the heat to transfer to the chips, and then stir vigorously until the chips have all melted and the ganache has smoothed out.

In all cases except for the jam, I put the filling into a piping bag to use it. This sometimes required heating the filling first for a few seconds in the microwave, and then working the mixture until it was smooth and able to be piped. All of the mixtures kept easily in the refrigerator between chocolate making sessions.

November 2016: I had occasion to make some of the molded chocolates this month, and found a couple tricks that helped. First, I had been having a problem getting the chocolates out of the mold; many would break in different ways, but usually it was the bottom and part of the side would separate from the top. I learned that I was filling the molds too full of filling, and the bottom was not getting a good adhesion to the top and sides.

I also allowed the chocolate to set longer between steps. Once I filled the mold, I waited a minute before dumping the extra chocolate out of the mold. Then I waited again for a minute before piping the filling into the mold and making certain it was down in the mold and not going to interfere with the bottom chocolate. Finally after filling the bottom with chocolate and scraping the mold clean of extra chocolate, I let the mold sit for 7 minutes to get a good connection between the bottom and the sides. Finally, I put the mold in the freezer for 7 minutes and got it good and cold; when it came out, the chocolate had shrunk enough that the pieces came out of the mold fairly easily. I did learn that there were some spots in the freezer that got the molds colder that other spots, and it was the colder spots that worked best.

Finally, I used paramount crystals with the melted chocolate to make it smoother and easier to handle. I used 2 Tablespoons with the 11 ounces of chocolate in the bain marie, and then when that all was melted and smooth, I added 5 ounces of chocolate to start the tempering of the melted chocolate. Later, after making several molds of chocolates, I felt the melt was starting to get thick and added another tablespoon of crystals to the melted chocolate.

Rabbit Birthday Cake

This should be my final birthday cake for a few months. When I asked Alli what she wanted, the answer was a rabbit pull-apart chocolate cake. That describes what you see here.

cake 004

The concept of pull-apart cake is that the decoration is layered on top of bunched cupcakes so that people can reach under the decoration and grab a individual cupcake to eat. The frosting decoration breaks off and goes with the cupcake.

For this cake, I used the mini-cupcakes as they would fit tighter together and leave fewer gaps to be bridged by the frosting. For the frosting, I made a basic butter cream, but added 1/4 cup of cocoa powder (to two cups of confectioner’s sugar) to give the frosting a chocolate taste. The trick is that then you need to add more liquid; the cocoa powder drys the frosting out and makes it very difficult to spread or even to stick.

pic 002

The entire process starts with a search for a suitable shape. I found the bunny head, and then had to do the engineering to enlarge it to the size of a 1/4 sheet cake; you probably know the process of drawing squares on both the picture and the blank paper, then duplicating where the lines of the picture cross the lines of the squares that were added. I then used a compass to draw circles of the size of a regular cupcake, and when they didn’t seem very tight, circles of the size of mini-cupcakes. The final proof is when the cupcakes are baked to see how they really fit- and it is never quite like all the circles that were drawn to make decisions.

Since it was a rabbit cake, I decided to get the Easter molds out and make some chocolate rabbits in tempered dark chocolate. And I also had a few regular size cupcakes left over from the Halloween witches which I frosted, put the chocolate rabbits on, and put on the 1/4 sheet board with the pull-apart rabbit.

To try to get some differentiation into the frosting, I powdered the face with ground up chocolate sprinkles dust, and then I piped “hair” over the rest of the chocolate frosting. I guess that makes the cake “Hairy Hare”.