Monday, August 31, 2009

Candied Ginger

If you're like me, you have this thing for peanut butter. A big thing. Which involves spoons, dates, carrots, broccoli and anything else I can think of to put it on. Which led me to my latest combo: peanut butter and candied ginger. A-MAzing.

And, if you're me, you'll also decide you don't have to buy the super sugar coated ginger slices in the grocery store, you can make your own candied ginger. (Especially since it's super easy. ...Unless you're in the bathroom and the pot starts boiling over...)

So you do. Twice. And promptly eat both batches in about a week.

Candied Ginger
1 lb Ginger
4 cups Water
4 cups Sugar

Peel the ginger. A spoon is actually quite effective in taking off the thin layer of skin on the root, and gets into all the little nooks and crannies. However, for the hard, nobbly parts, I took a knife to it.

Slice the ginger thinly and place it in a pot. Cover it with water, bring to a boil and let simmer for 10 minutes. Repeat this last step, draining the water each time.

Cover the cooked ginger with water and sugar, and cook it on high heat, for at least an hour or so. (I naturally always forgot to time it, but I know it takes more time than it does for one episode of Ballykissangel.) The ginger is ready when the liquid forms a thin syrup that is a light golden colour, or, if using a candy thermometer, when it reaches 125 degrees.

Drain the ginger and spread it out on a sheet of wax paper lightly sprinkled with sugar, and sprinkle with sugar again on top to keep the slices from sticking. Leave it out for at least two days or so to let it dry. (However, if you're impatient like me, you can eat it right then.) You can also store the ginger in its syrup, if you prefer.

If draining the ginger, you can save the syrup for things like ice cream, pancakes, drinks, and anything else you can think of. It has a lovely little kick!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Chocolate Avocado Cake

This cake was some intense chocolate crazy. Seriously, I kid you not. The avocado is undetectable, while the cake is moist and fudgy. The little bit of booze I snuck it really jazzed up the flavour, and the intensity of the dark chocolate in the icing kept it from being overpoweringly sweet, and making it more chocolatey. It was I may have overdosed on it a little while icing the cake. And there is still some leftover, and it's in my fridge, and I need it to not be there, because when you realize you just ate about a cup of pure chocolate, sugar and butter, you feel like a piece of you has been violated, and no amount of milk can save you. And I don't want that to happen...again.

Ahem. Anyways, onto the cake!

Chocolate Avocado Cake of Awesome (Just thought I'd get some alliteration going there for kicks. I am a dork.)
Adapted from Joy the Baker

3 cups Flour (I used whole wheat)
6 tbsp. Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1/2 tsp. Salt
2 tsp. Baking Powder
2 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 cup Dark Brown Sugar
1/2 cup Pure Maple Syrup
1/4 cup Vegetable Oil (I used extra virgin olive oil)
1/2 cup Avocado, well mashed (about 1 medium avocado)
1 3/4 cups Milk
2 tbsp. Strong Coffee
2 tbsp. Dooley's (you can skip this and the coffee if you like, or add a different liqueur. I'm thinking Kahlua, Bailey's and even Gran Marnier would give this cake an awesome kick.)
2 tbsp. White Vinegar
2 tsp. Vanilla Extract

Preheat oven to 350 Degrees. Grease and flour two 8 or 9-inch rounds. Set aside.

Sift together all the dry ingredients except the sugar. Set aside.

Mix the wet ingredients together in a bowl, including the mashed avocado. Mix in the maple syrup and brown sugar.

Pour the wet into the dry and mix until smooth. (After combining them together, I whisked it by hand just to ensure it was well mixed.)

Pour batter into prepared cake pans and bake 30 - 40 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Let cool for about 15 minutes before turning onto cooling racks. (Tip: If you're in a hurry to ice them, stick the cakes in the freezer on plates with waxed paper underneath to prevent them from sticking. They'll be ready to ice within the hour.)

Super Intense Dark Chocolate Buttercream
2 100 g. (6 - 7 oz.) 70% Lindt Chocolate Bars, melted and cooled (or any other high quality dark chocolate you can get your hands on. Lindt was all I could find.)
1 cup Butter, softened
1/4 cup Cream or Milk (I only had skim, but it worked)
3 - 4 cups Icing Sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract

Place all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. (I think I screwed mine up a bit and processed it too much, or I was too impatient and didn't let the chocolate cool enough. It became fudge-like in texture and not very spreadable at all. Still tasted like chocolate ecstasy though.)

Enjoy! I played around with the ingredients a lot, and next time (oh, there will be a next time!) I plan to spice it up even more, perhaps by decreasing the milk and adding brewed espresso, and even some chili powder and ground ginger. Mmmm, cake noms. The possibilities are endless!

Obligatory Launch Post (This sounds like it could use a rocket ship.)

So after obsessively following food blogs and baking obscene amounts of goods over the past year (that my student budget should never have allowed), I've decided to jump on the blog wagon and share my own food adventures with the world. Here's hoping it won't worsen my baking addiction, an addiction which is no friend to any student's wallet (or waistline).

However, my food crazy goes beyond chocolate, icings, peanut butter and cookies. I am also a "health freak" despite my weakness, which almost constantly sometimes leads me to delving into bags of chocolate chips or making a rendezvous with a jar of peanut butter and just a spoon to accompany me (and that's only when my finger can no longer do the scooping for me). So I'm almost bi-polar when it comes to diet, often consuming disgusting amounts of sugar while also obsessing over the amount of protein and nutrients I'm getting. I am slowly learning to strike a balance in my diet, and also to cook (and especially bake!) with more wholesome and nutritious ingredients.

Basically, I love food. It's kind of awesome. And now I can share my food crazy even more -- huzzah!