Tag-Archive for ◊ cherries ◊

02 Mar 2014 Black Forest Torte (Black Forest Cake)

BookThief-torte

Once a year I host a book club meeting at my house.  My night was last night.  The book was “The Book Thief” so the theme was German food.  Thanks to input from the Internet, I decided to make a “Black Forest Torte” for dessert.  I found a recipe posted on Food.com by a “real German lady”, and decided to make it, with no advance practice session (I know, living on the edge!).

The cake was a delicious show-stopper.  Just look at that picture! I haven’t made too many show-stopper cakes before so I was quite thrilled with the way this one turned out.  PHEW! And I’d like to extend a big, grateful ‘danke’ to the “real German lady” 🙂

I made a few changes to the recipe, of course:  I used pitted sour cherries from a jar, rather than fresh cherries (they’re not in season right now), and I used butter, rather than shortening, in the cake batter. I also made two 9.5 inch cake layers instead of the three 9-inch layers specified in the original recipe (I really dislike 3 layer cakes).  I modified the mixing method for the cake. I used espresso powder, rather than cold brewed espresso, in the filling and adjusted the amount of Kirsch in the filling as well. I upped the whipped cream frosting by 50%.

Now, if you make this cake, you’ll need to start three days in advance and, please, DO make this cake!

  • Day 1: Drain the cherries and soak in Kirsh.
  • Day 2: Make the chocolate layer cakes, soak the cakes in the Kirsch drained from the (now boozy) cherries.  Make the filling and assemble the layers one on top of the other.  Refrigerate overnight.
  • Day 3: Make the chocolate curls and the whipped cream frosting. An hour or two before serving, decorate the cake with the whipped cream, reserved cherries, and chocolate curls. Serve!
  • Day 4: The leftovers are yummy! I called four friends over for tea, and they all accepted, enjoyed the cake, and took slices home for their husbands!  (So far, I have cut sixteen slices from this cake, and there is one slice left in the refrigerator for my 23 year old twins to fight over.

 Black Forest Torte

Cake

  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour (8 oz)
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder (I had Hershey’s on hand, so that’s what I used)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk

Mocha Buttercream Filling

  • 1/2 cup kirsch
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  •  1 1/2 teaspoons instant  espresso powder
  • 2 jars of pitted sour cherries, drained (I got mine at Trader Joes-1 1/2 lbs each, most supermarkets have  1 lb. cans of cherries in the canned fruit section) OR 1 1/2 lbs fresh black cherries, pitted

Whipped Cream Frosting

  • 3 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2-3 tablespoons  kirsch
  • 2 tablespoons dry milk powder (optional, but helps with stability of whipped cream icing)
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar

Chocolate Garnish

  • One large, 3.5-4 oz. dark chocolate bar, grated or curled

DIRECTIONS

  1.  Drain the cherries then soak them in 1/2 cup Kirsch overnight. Discard the cherry juice UNLESS you want to make a non-alcoholic cake.  If you want a non-alcoholic cake (like, if children will be eating it) use the cherry juice  from the cherries instead of the Kirsch and proceed as outlined below.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F
  3. Drain the cherries from the Kirsh.  RESERVE the liquid!  Most of the liquid will be poured over the hot cakes. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the liquid for the filling.
  4. Line the bottom of two 9 inch round cake pans with parchment. Spray the sides with “Pam for Baking”, or grease with a bit of butter or oil.
  5. Sift the dry cake ingredients together and set aside.
  6. With an electric mixer beat the shortening to soften, then add the sugar.  Beat for six minutes or until the shortening-sugar mixture is light and fluffy.
  7. Add the eggs, one at a time and mix well.  Stir in the vanilla.
  8. Add one-third of the dry ingredients to the sugar mixture and beat to combine. Add half of the buttermilk. Beat to combine. Add another one-third of the dry ingredients and beat to combine.  Add remaining buttermilk.  Beat to combine.  Finally, add the last of the dry ingredients and beat well. alternately with the buttermilk and mix well.
  9. Pour batter into the prepared cake pans.
  10. Bake in preheated 350 oven for approx. 25 minutes or until a cake springs back when touched.
  11. Remove the cakes from the oven.  Leave the cakes in the pans and immediately and slowly, pour some of the reserved Kirsch-cherry juice mixture over both cakes. Let the Kirsch soak in, then repeat until all but 2 tablespoons of the Kirsch-cherry liquid has been used. (The remaining 2 tablespoons liquid will be used in the filling)
  12. Let the cakes cool in their pans.
  13. Make the filling. With an electric mixer  beat the butter until light and creamy. Add the powdered sugar, salt, espresso powder, and 2 tablespoons Kirsch-Cherry juice and beat well for 3 or 4 minutes. If the filling is too thick add some extra Kirsch, cherry juice, or cream (add only an extra 1/2 tsp. at a time). The filling should be spreadable, but firm.
  14. Place the base layer on cake plate.  Spread filling over top, then cover with drained cherries (save some good, firm, pretty cherries to go on top of the cake as decoration). I took the time to place each cherry in concentric layers, which I think helped with the stability of the cake. Add the second cake on top of the filling and cherries on the first layer.  Push down a bit to secure a firm fit between the layers.
  15. Cover the cake  and let sit in refrigerator overnight for the flavors to meld.
  16. A few hours before serving place the whipping cream, powdered sugar, Kirsch, vanilla, and optional dry milk powder in the bowl of an electric mixer. Whip the cream until it forms stiff peaks.
  17. Spread the whipped cream frosting over all of the cake. Decorate the sides first, then the top.  If you want to be fancy, put some of the whipping cream in a Ziploc or a piping bag and pipe rosettes or swirls around top and bottom of cake.
  18. Pat the reserved cherries dry, and then place in a pretty design on top of the cake.
  19. Grate the chocolate bar or use a vegetable peeler to make chocolate curls. Gently, and decoratively  press handfuls of the grated chocolate onto the sides of the cake.
  20. Store cake in refrigerator until an hour or so before serving.  Serve and enjoy.  (You should get about 16 generous slices from this cake.)

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today, and I hope there is a Special Occasion coming up soon so you can make this cake.  It’s a keeper!

Just in case you are wondering, and in case you are reading this because you’ll also be hosting a book club meeting based upon “The Book Thief”, I also made Kipferls. Kipferls, which are significant in the book, were left by the window for people to take home (just like in the book).  I’ll posted that recipe, too, since they were soooooo good (but soooooo expensive to make, more about that later). My book club does snacks and dessert. For snacks I had a bowl of apples, German bread with cheese and liverwurst, and soft pretzels with a beer-mustard-cheese dip (no picture of the pretzels and dip) and Stollen! To drink, we had champagne, of course.  Those of you who read the book know why.

BookThief-snacks

30 Jan 2011 Drunken Monkey Cake

Drunken Monkey Cake: my third cake from “All Cakes Considered” by Melissa Gray.  The directions were bothersome again, but I (mostly) made it as directed the first time.  This resulted in a cake that was too “moist” (probably too many bananas) but the cake showed promise, so I committed to rebaking it.

The first thing to go was the showy process of flaming the cherries in rum.  The directions specified boiling dried cherries in ¾ cup water, then pouring ¾ cup rum over the cherries, and lighting the whole thing on fire.  Being English, I know a few things about lighting things on fire.  I’ve had flaming Christmas Pudding every Christmas and New Year’s Day of my life.  The flames are for show.  Why do I want to flame the cherries?  Who’s watching?  I boiled the cherries in the water, added the rum, and set the mixture aside. I know better than to burn up my rum.

The second big problem with the recipe was the ingredient list which called for “5 or 6 very ripe bananas”.  Come again?  How much banana? Small, medium or large bananas?  I had four small and two large bananas, so that’s what I used.  Not good.  The cake was way too moist.  Even with 20 minutes extra baking, it was still too “moist”.   Stop the madness!  Specify in cups or by weight how much mashed banana to use!  For the rebake I did a little research.  One banana should equal 1/3 to ½ cup of mashed pulp, a bit more helpful, but still an issue.  With “5 or 6 very ripe bananas” I was now dealing with 1 ½ cups, 1 2/3 cups, 2 cups, or 3 cups of mashed banana!  The higher quantity being double the lower quantity!  Isn’t this maddening?  Recipes directions should be written to ensure success. If I follow a recipe I should get a good result,  without having to do additional research or recipe reworking. The second Drunken Monkey cake was baked with 2 cups of mashed banana (which was 4 medium bananas).  Still too much banana.  1 2/3 cup of mashed banana is probably just about right.

The next issue with the recipe was to drain the drunken cherries, and to pour the thickened liquid into the bananas.  Once again, how much liquid was I to expect from the cherries.  What if I didn’t have enough, what if I had too much?  The amount of liquid is not so critical in a sauce, but for a cake it makes a big difference.  So with my second rebake, I changed the way of plumping the cherries, and measured the liquid before I added it to the bananas.  By this time I had also run out of rum, so I had to switch to brandy!  Now I know both rum and brandy taste fine!  Start soaking the fruit the night before baking the cake.

The next change I made to the recipe was to substitute chocolate chips for the nuts (think frozen, drunken, chocolate covered bananas!).  I don’t like nuts, so this was a good option for me, but if I were a nut lover, I think nuts would be awesome in this cake, with or without the addition of chocolate.

The picture above reflects all the changes I made.  Now there is one more issue, I had a piece for breakfast…, hic.  Maybe there was a point to burning off the rum…

Drunken Monkey Cake with Chocolate

Adapted from “All Cakes Considered” by Melissa Gray

  • 2 cups dried cherries (recipe did not specify what kind of dried cherries.  I used tart dried cherries)
  • 1 cup dark rum (brandy works, too)
  • 1 2/3 cups mashed very ripe banana (approx. 3 or 4 medium/large bananas)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 ¼ cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 4 eggs (at room temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts or chocolate chips
  1. The night before baking this cake, or early the morning of, pour the rum over the dried cherries, stir, and set aside to plump.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Mash the bananas and measure 1 2/3 cup of pulp to use in the cake.
  4. Drain the rum from the cherries.  You should have approx 3 tablespoons of rum.  Stir this drained rum into the mashed bananas and set aside.
  5. Line the bottom of a 10 inch tube pan with parchment paper, then spray with Pam or spread with butter. (There is too much batter for a normal 12-cup bundt pan.  If you use a bundt pan, don’t line with parchment paper, but use Baker’s Joy! or Pam to well grease the pan–and you’ll probably have enough batter left over to also make 4 or 6 muffins.  Adjust baking times accordingly.)
  6. In a medium bowl combine the white and wheat flours, the salt, and the baking soda and set aside.
  7. With an electric mixer Beat the butter for a minute or so.  Then add in the white and brown sugars and beat for an additional 4 minutes.
  8. Add eggs, one at a time, to the butter-sugar mixture, beating well after each addition.
  9. Stir banana mixture into the butter-sugar-egg mixture. Stir in the vanilla.
  10. Slowly add the flour mixture to the banana batter.
  11. Stir the drained cherries, nuts and/or chocolate chips into the batter.
  12. Pour batter into prepared pan and place into a preheated 350 degree oven.  Bake for approx 1 hour or until cake tester comes out clean and sides start to pull away from the sides of the pan.
  13. Cool in pan for ten minutes, then loosen sides and turn out to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes a lot of cake; depending on how you slice it, you’ll probably have 16-20 slices.  Call the neighbors! Just one warning…, no, two warnings.  It’s probably best not to serve this cake for breakfast! Hic. Hic.  This is definitely not a good cake for children.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today, you drunken monkey, you… hic!

30 Sep 2010 Chocolate-Chocolate Cherry Rice Krispie Treats

For years I had forgotten about Rice Krispie Treats (thinking of them as kid stuff) then a neighbor brought a batch to a block party.  I went wild. Rice Krispie treats are officially one of my danger foods now.  Don’t leave me in a room with a pan of them.  Ever.

Over the past few years I have amassed quite a collection of Rice Krispie Treat recipes, each one better than the last.  First it was Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Treats, then Toasted Coconut Rice Krispie Treats, then Salted Brown Butter Rice Krispie Treats and now, my current favorite, Chocolate-Chocolate Cherry Rice Krispie Treats. I HAVE tried some recipes that bombed, too…, the Butterscotch Rice Krispie Treats, a Chocolate Rice Krispie Treat and a Coffee Rice Krispie Treat.

In spite of the name, there is not much chocolate in these treats.  There’s white chocolate mixed in with the marshmallows, and some semi sweet chocolate drizzled on top, but that’s all.  The chocolates work very well with the exciting flavor of the dried cherries.

The original recipe for these Rice Krispie Treats was from a 2009 Cooks Country magazine, but it only made enough for an 8″ x 8″ pan.  Where’s the fun in that?  I upped the quantities to use an entire 1 lb bag of miniature marshmallows so the mixture would fit into the traditional Rice Krispie Treat pan, the faithful 9″ x 13″ glass pan.

Chocolate-Chocolate Cherry Rice Krispie Treats

4 tablespoons butter
1  16 oz. bag mini marshmallows (the white ones, of course)
3/4 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
7 1/2  cups Rice Krispies
1 1/2 cups dried sour cherries, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips, melted

Prepare a  9 x 13 inch pan be buttering, spraying with Pam or lining with foil, whichever method you are most comfortable with (I spray with Pam).

Melt butter in a large pot over low heat. Add marshmallows, white chocolate chips, and salt.  Cook, stirring constantly, until entire mixture is melted and smooth, about 8 minutes. Stir in vanilla. Remove from heat.

Off heat, stir in Rice Krispies and cherries.  Make sure all the cereal is evenly coated with the marshmallow mixture.  This will take some stirring.

When mixture is fully combined and there are no dry pockets of cereal, pour into prepared pan.  With greased paper (I use the paper off the butter) or a greased spatula, press on the mixture to even out the top and to eliminate all air pockets.

Melt semisweet chocolate chips in the microwave on low at 30 second intervals until smooth. Pour melted chocolate into a Ziploc bag (preferably a freezer strength Ziploc), move the chocolate into one corner of the bag. Using scissors, clip a tiny piece off the corner and drizzle chocolate over the Rice Krispie Treats in the pan.

Allow chocolate to cool and harden (if you are in a hurry, put the treats in the refrigerator) before cutting treats into serving pieces and serving.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today.  I’ll be busy transferring the other Rice Krispie Treat recipes from my “Polly, Julie, and Julia” Facebook page soon!

22 Sep 2010 Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies with White Chocolate and Cherries

This recipe has been floating around the internet quite a bit lately.  Everyone is making it! I found the recipe at My Baking Addiction. My verdict?  This is a good seasonal cookie.  The white chocolate and dried cherries do elevate it to something special, but neither the pumpkin flavor nor the oatmeal flavor is pronounced, which is a negative in my book (You might be able to enhance the pumpkin flavor by upping the pumpkin pie spice by 50% or so). This is a good seasonal cookie though, don’t get me wrong.  It’s just not the best pumpkin cookie nor the best oatmeal cookie. It is, however, a nice change.  I think you’ll get a lot of really positive comments if you were to show up to your next event with a plate of these :).

I found this dough to be softer than most cookie doughs, it was a bit like a very thick cake batter, but the cookies cooked up just fine.  My butter was a bit too soft, so that might have created a softer dough. These cookies don’t stack well. After a day or so they start to stick together.  To prevent this, if you do stack, put a piece of wax paper between each layer.  This recipe makes about 48 cookies, but, of course, that depends on the size of your scoop!

Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies

with White Chocolate and Cherries

2 cups all purpose flour
1 ½ cups old-fashioned oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter; softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup dried cherries; roughly chopped (I used dried sour cherries.  Certainly dried cranberries could be substituted)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper (this isn’t critical, but the cookies do seem to cook better when placed on parchment paper)

Combine flour, oats, baking soda, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice and salt in medium bowl and set aside.

Beat butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar in large mixer bowl until light and fluffy.  Add pumpkin, egg and vanilla extract; mix well.

Add flour mixture to butter mixture; combine until all ingredients are incorporated. Fold in white chocolate chips and dried cherries.

Drop by rounded tablespoons onto prepared baking sheets. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

I love the flavors of fall.  Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today.

13 Sep 2010 Drunken Pear Crisp with Cherries

Everyone who tried this last night (last night refers to one night in the fall of 2009) loved it…, except for me.  I didn’t fall in love with it until about an hour ago, when I had a bite of the leftovers.  Soooo GOOD!  What was I thinking earlier?  I had to scrape the bottom of the serving dish to get a leftover helping for myself.

This crisp is made with almost a full bottle of Zinfandel. I’ve served the crisp  with small scoops of homemade vanilla ice-cream, and with whipped cream.  I am going to have to make another batch to figure out which option I like better! Besides that, the picture above is horrible and I definitely need a new picture… (if you make this, can you send me a picture to use in place of this one?)

I made one change to the “Pear Crisp with Dried Sour Cherries”  recipe from “The Top 150 American Recipes” cookbook (aside from renaming the recipe), I thought the filling needed a thickening agent, it did.  I’ve added it into the recipe below.

Start this one day before you plan to serve it—the cherries need time to get drunk.  Kids probably won’t like this…. Let them eat the ice-cream!

Drunken Pear Crisp with Cherries

1 cup dried SOUR cherries (I bought mine at Trader Joe’s)
Approx ¾ bottle of Zinfandel
5 cups thickly sliced pears (about 2 ½ lbs, 8 medium)
1 T. tapioca or cornstarch
½ cup sugar (divided use)
1 ¼ c. flour
1/3 cup toasted sliced almonds
1 T. finely chopped toasted sliced almonds
¼ c. firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/8  t. ground nutmeg
¼ t. cinnamon
8 T. (1 stick) butter, melted and cooled

In a small saucepan over medium heat combine cherries with enough Zinfandel to cover by 2 inches.  Bring the mixture to a simmer, then remove from heat and let cool.  Place cherries in the refrigerator and let soak overnight (or, at least 8 hours).  Drain the cherries, but reserve the wine.  In a large bowl combine the sliced pears, drained cherries,  ¼ cup white sugar, and cornstarch or tapioca.  Toss well.  Add ½ cup of the cherry-Zinfandel liquid and then let stand for 30 minutes.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In another bowl combine flour, remaining ¼ c. sugar, 1/3 cup toasted almonds, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Slowly drizzle in the melted butter.  Stir with a fork until mixture comes together in crumbles. (Do not over-mix and get a big ball of dough-break up any clumps bigger than one inch).  Spoon fruit mixture into a 2 qt. baking dish (8 x 8).  Evenly sprinkle crumbs on top of the fruit mixture. Sprinkle 1 T. finely chopped almonds over the crumbled topping. Bake until mixture is bubbling and topping is browned, about 50 minutes.  Serve hot or warm, with or without ice-cream or whipped cream. Guard the leftovers with your life!

Inviting friends over this fall?  Serve this for dessert.  Trust me.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today!