Tuesday, October 20, 2009

here comes the cake truffles: dani's candies

My friend Dani married a great guy on Saturday. And because I have a great guy myself, Mark made cake truffles with me to contribute to her cookie table (a western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio tradition, apparently). Her colors were fall themed, so we made fall themed truffles.

These things are awesome. We heard the wait staff talking about them while we were loading up our plates with cookies.

You start with a chocolate cake. Mark likes to use the Hershey's chocolate cake recipe. Here's the main players. And Sir Sous Chef.

The awesome thing about this cake is that it's practically one-bowl. By that I mean you dump everything in at once, like so.

Boil some water. In a cow. (Thanks Amber's Aunt BeBe)

In the meantime, beat all the other ingredients.

Add the boiling water to make what looks like soup. Don't turn the mixer on too high or you'll spray your face. Trust me. I know this.

Get it in some pans. I like to use two 9-inch rounds.

Let those bake and get started on the cream cheese frosting.

Cream butter and cream cheese.

Add some confectioners sugar, milk, and the other players. Mix. Smell the yum.

At this point Mark arrived, so we cooled the cakes and chilled the frosting and watched Star Trek. Yep. And then he gunged the cake and frosting together to make cake balls.

To make the actual candies, Mark and I work as a team. I'm the sprinkle/jimmie master and he's the chocolate master. He fills the candy molds (that look like the bottom of peanut butter cups) with melted dark chocolate.

A cake ball goes in each and the trays go in the fridge to chill and set. This is what they look like when they are done.

Next they take a dip in colored white chocolate.

Next they are doused in sprinkles or jimmies. We used fall leaves. And here they come...

The cookies were delicious, cake truffles spectacular, and the bride radiant. And I got to dance with Mark to Billy Joel.

Good wedding, I'd say.

Trib contest update

I took second place in the first round of the Trib's Holiday Cupcake Challenge, which means I get to move on to compete at the Good Taste Pittsburgh Food Expo on November 7. We have four hours to make a cupcake creation that includes at least 12 cupcakes and is holiday themed. I'm not going to write about my idea here, but you will see photos after the event.

Wish me luck!

good dessert eats in the cleve

As Mark is originally from Cleveland, we make trips to his home city every once in awhile. And as we are always on the hunt for delicious desserts and special treats. Here is a sampling of the treats from a few of our stops.

*Presti's Bakery, Little Italy

Presti's is a fantastic little cafe/bakery in Little Italy that makes you walk up to the counter and want to press your hands and face up against the counter like you are five years old. It smells like a cloud of sugar and butter and flour and coffee. I'm not kidding. We usually try and bring a cooler to stock up on a few treats, but this time we ate in, as we were with Amber & Anthony (and Spiderman).

Amber had a regular cannoli. I believe Presti’s makes their shells as well as the cream. Anthony had a custard puff, which he said was “filled with delicious custards” (with a big smile on his face). They split some berry gelato as well. (There is some debate as to whether or not it was raspberry gelato or simply a generic berry gelato. We will stick with berry gelato, as either way, it’s a berry.)

After a great deal of deliberation, Mark and I chose two desserts to split. I was lusting after the strawberry cassata cake. It was incredible. Apparently cassata cake is traditionally made with sponge cake, ricotta cheese mixture, and candied fruit. I prefer Presti's version with light white cake, strawberries, and cream.

We also tried a chocolate mousse enveloped in another layer of chocolate. That was pretty much amazing.

If you ever take a vacation to the Cleve ala Liz Lemon, stop at Presti's and you won't be disappointed. You'll just wish you brought a bigger cooler.


West Side Market

The West Side Market is a foodie's dream come true. Mark and I could have stayed all day. We bought Madagascar vanilla beans for $1.95 a piece, some pomegranates for $1, and got 3 beautiful red peppers (turned into roasted red pepper pasta sauce that week) for $1. Make a pilgrimage and go there.

We tested three cupcakes from one of the vendors (can't remember the name! ack!).

This one was chocolate raspberry and was quite good. The cake part had some jam mixed in and was moist. The icing didn't taste much like raspberry, but that could have been because it was in a box bumping around all day with the other ones.

We tried an espresso cupcake with a chocolate covered espresso bean on top. Again, pretty good.

The best of the bunch was the buckeye cupcake with peanut butter. I liked the peanut butter frosting a lot, and it made me want to find a recipe for good peanut butter buttercream.

We also visited a vendor called Cake Royale that makes all of its desserts from scratch. A husband and wife team own the business and we got to talk to the wife for awhile. Made us want to open a bakery.

They had the most incredible cakes. The photos I took were so bad I don't even want to post them because they don't do justice to the desserts. We had one piece called "France," made up of white and dark chocolate mousse in layers. Another, called "Nescafe" was espresso and caramel and cream. Their specialty was a chocolate "Monk," which was chocolate and raspberry mousse enveloped in a shroud of chocolate that looked like a monk's robe, and dusted with chocolate powder. Heavenly. And knowing they were made lovingly by hand by someone self-taught made it even better.