Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Dessert Trifecta

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Dessert #1

Kahlua Flan

kahlua flan

photo credit:  Food


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a small saucepan, cook the sugar over medium heat until it starts to melt. Lower the heat and cook until caramelized to a golden brown. (Do not stir or touch the sugar, but swirl the pan to melt evenly.  This takes patience and attention, so if you’re like me and get distracted when you remember you were going to sew a button onto you jacket—set a timer or assign a small child to this task.)

Pour into a metal flan mold or 9-inch cake pan. Turn the dish and swirl to evenly coat the bottom.  (I did this on a chilly night and used a ceramic tart plate—it was cold and the caramel hardened quickly—therefore it did not “swirl or evenly coat, but it came out just fine.  However, next time, I will warm the plate first.) Let caramel cool and harden.

Place the dish in a larger roasting pan and add hot water to come halfway up the sides of the baking dish. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs. Add the condensed and evaporated milks and Kahlua and whisk well to blend. Pour into the prepared pan. Bake until set and just firm in the center but still jiggles slightly, 50 minutes to 1 hour. Let cool on a wire rack. Refrigerate until well chilled, at least 2 hours.

To serve, run a thin sharp knife around the rim of the flan. Place a platter or large plate on top of the flan and gently flip over so the plate is on the bottom. Lift away the mold. (If you let it cool overnight—like I did—and have a difficult time getting it to loosen from the pan, fill the roasting pan you baked it in with warm water and place the baking dish in the warm water for 30 seconds or so—this should help loosen it.)  Garnish with powdered cocoa and top with Mexican chocolate shavings.

Cut into wedges and serve immediately.

Recipe courtesy Emeril Lagasse, 2003(—notes, courtesy of me.)


Dessert #2



photo credit:  Romulo Yanes


  • 2 cups boiling-hot water *
  • 3 tablespoons instant-espresso powder *
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
  • 3 tablespoons Tia Maria (coffee liqueur—I used Kahlua)
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup dry Marsala
  • 1 pound mascarpone (2 1/2 cups)
  • 1 cup chilled heavy cream
  • 36 savoiardi (crisp Italian ladyfingers; from two 7-ounce packages—I used the soft ladyfingers—see notes below)
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder for dusting


Stir together water, espresso powder, 1 tablespoon sugar, and coffee liqueur in a shallow bowl until sugar has dissolved, then cool.

(Be careful with the following step—it’s easy to overheat everything.  If you leave some whites in your egg yolks, they will cook-up—just pluck them out when you’re done.)  Beat egg yolks, Marsala, and remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water using a whisk or handheld electric mixer until tripled in volume, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove bowl from heat. Beat in mascarpone until just combined.

Beat cream in a large bowl until it holds stiff peaks.  (Did you know that this works best when you use a ceramic or glass bowl that you’ve pre-chilled in the freezer for a few minutes?  Throw the mixer beaters in, too.)

Fold mascarpone mixture into whipped cream gently but thoroughly.

Dipping both sides of each ladyfinger into coffee mixture, line bottom of a 13- by 9- by 3-inch baking pan with 18 ladyfingers in 3 rows, trimming edges to fit if necessary.  (If you use the soft ladyfingers, pour about 1/3  to 1/2 of your espresso mixture in the bottom of you baking dish and then place the ladyfingers in the mixture.)  Spread half of mascarpone filling on top. Dip remaining 18 ladyfingers in coffee and arrange over filling in pan.  (For the soft ladyfingers, I just placed them on top of the cheese layer and brushed them with the espresso mixture.)

Spread remaining mascarpone filling on top and dust with cocoa. Chill, covered, at least 6 hours.

Let tiramisu stand at room temperature 30 minutes before serving, then dust with more cocoa.  (I used a basic, store brand cocoa powder, but will look for something better for the next time.)

*I used a dark roast coffee and brewed two cups in our single cup brewer.


Dessert #3

Hunter’s Birthday Cake

(aka:  Chocolate cake with Raspberry Crème Filling and Ganache topping)

hunter's cake

(alibi:  the cake isn’t lopsided—much—that’s the crème filling oozing out!)

Okay—a little back story.  My dear, talented friend, Kate, is one of those people you wish you could hate, but you want so badly to be just like her you find yourself dancing around her like Chester following Spike.  (If you grew-up with Looney Tunes cartoons you understand.)  She introduced me to a version of this cake—although she went to effort of making it as a rolled cake (that’s love)—on the occasion of my birthday. 

Unfortunately, she then moved away and was unable to show me that kind of love again.  So, desperate for that deliciousness, I contacted her and begged her for the recipe, which she rattled off the top of her head while walking on the treadmill and watching the news, I believe.  (Yeah—she can do it all.)  I decided to make that for my eldest daughter’s birthday because it had a pink filling and it her birthday is in February.

Now, Kate provided a wonderful, homemade rich chocolate cake recipe, but I cheated and bought the richest sounding chocolately, chocolate cake mix available at the commissary.  I have made it using the chocolate cake recipe available on the Hershey’s Cocoa Powder container, but this year I used a mix again—as I was just about baked-out at this point!

So, pick your favorite chocolate cake recipe or box mix and prepare it using two round cake pans.  Then do this:

While the cake is baking, toss a package of frozen raspberries in a saucepan and warm with 2 T of light corn syrup until bubbly and the liquids thicken.  Now, strain the raspberries, reserving the juice.

Now, whip 1 cup of heavy whipping cream until firm peaks form.  Gently fold in the reserved juice in small amounts—stop when the whipping cream appears to be thinning to the point that it will break down.  Refrigerate until the cake cools.

For the Ganache, you’ll need 1/2 cup of heavy cream and 8 ounces and (if you like) 1 T raspberry liqueur (I use Chambord).

Now—to assemble the cake:

If you are feeling really fancy—slice each cake round into two cake rounds (this will make you feel better about not making a roll cake); thus, you will have four layers and consequently more room for the crème filling.  (I suddenly remembered this step after I had already spread the raspberry crème on the first full cake round—so I cut the second round and ended-up with three layers.)

Assemble the cake, spreading the raspberry crème in between each layer.  Refrigerate while you prepare the ganache.

For this very fancy sounding, yet incredibly easy topping.  (By the way, in case you’re wondering, it’s pronounced “gah-nosh”—really takes the fancy out of it, doesn’t it?)   All you do is melt the ingredients together in a double boiler.  Once melted and smooth—spoon over your prepared cake.  You can take your time and painstakingly smooth the ganache over the entire cake OR you can just spoon it onto the top layer and let it drip over the sides (I usually opt for the latter).


Okay—now that we’re all in a sugar induced coma here at the King Kompound, I’ll let you go gather your ingredients so you can join us!

Thanks for your indulgence~


Monday, February 9, 2015

Put Casters on It

This is a philosophy I developed for just about any piece of furniture I had at the shop—put casters on it.  That way, when the mood hit me to move things around—generally, just before closing time so Patty would walk into my typical chaos the next morning—I could move the large pieces of furniture by myself.

While I had become pretty adept at loading large pieces onto a four-wheel furniture dolly all-by-my-lonesome, the casters were much easier on the back.

Unfortunately, I didn’t come-up with this brilliant philosophy until I was just about ready to close.  I had thought of it for large pieces which, ironically, remained rather stationary—like my check-out desk.  But, especially on the pieces I had custom made, I started asking Jeff to put casters on those.  It made delivering those items easy and, should the clients desire, they could be easily removed.

So, when I went in search of a piece of furniture to fill a void in our newly renovated laundry room, I was surprised that it took me a while to figure out what to do. 

I had this space . . . and heaven forbid it just remain “space.”  So, the space was screaming for something to keep it company.  My first fix was this:

laundry after 2

You can see (just barely) the almost ideal table—it is an absolutely darling little metal table (on casters) which I had at the shop and just couldn’t let go.  It’s made its way around the house and I am determined to find the perfect location in this house (or another).

In the meantime, however, it didn’t work here.  It was way too long to allow us to open the refrigerator door.  And, though it is on casters, I didn’t want to scoot it out of the way every time we need something from the fridge.

Then, while out shopping with my mom, sister and daughter, I came across this:

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As you may have already inferred from the background—I brought it home.  It’s a large crate which had been divided into cubbies of varying size—which made it perfect for my junk of varying size.  (Did you notice that wonderful blue-green paint on the interior?)

As you may have also already inferred, it is too large for the space, too.  It is not as wide as the other piece, but it is close.  Yet this pieces had so much more to recommend itself for this space that I decided I must make it work.

So, I scooted it down as close to the door jam as I could and proceeded to load it with junk (those cubbies on the right are the perfect size for wine bottles).  The refrigerator door opened, but I couldn’t access the crisper drawer on the bottom, right-hand side.  Oh well—I could make do without it—this is, after all, our “bonus” fridge.

Then it occurred to me . . . put casters on it!  And that I did.

When you are adding casters, you need to make sure you get the correct size and construction for your needs.  This crate is fairly light weight, but with all of the stuff I planned to load into it, I need to consider the weight capacity.  I also decided on a rubber wheels, as opposed to plastic or metal, since it would be rolling around on our new, vinyl laminate flooring.

I emptied the crate and flipped it over to expose the bottom—picked off the mounds of dog hair which had already attached there—and began marking the holes for drilling. 

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(This is one thing I have to make myself do—pre-drilling.  It is much like prep work for painting—a necessary evil.)

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And here we have the final product—all loaded down with junk for storage (those wine bottles I mentioned and a portion of my cookbook collection) and display.  (I’ve gotta learn to control that flash!)

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Bonus:  it is ready to roll out of the way to allow access to that all important crisper drawer!

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Are you a fan of casters?  Have you found a unique use for them or a place where you could not do without them? Do tell!

Thanks for your indulgence,


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