Cook with Eli and Mollie

Daring Bakers November: Caramel Cake

Sunday, December 07, 2008

My first Daring Bakers challenge! Caramel Cake. I felt such pressure and I did pretty well considering it was my first and I'm not much of a confident baker. I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge and LOVED the tasty result!

I had a heck of time getting the caramel syrup to work! Something is tricky in caramelizing sugar and I finally got it on the third go, but also wasn't sure what "caramel syrup" should be like... I assumed it was supposed to be thicker than what I finally settled for but it worked out fine. Then I had a disaster with the cake pan... I bought a new cake pan for this recipe and opted for one with a removeable bottom (like a cheesecake pan, but different) so I can easily remove it and present it beautifully. But somehow, the cake leaked out through the bottom and into the oven!! I realized this when I had lost half of the cake, so quickly put a pan under the cake and was able to keep the remaining half of the cake. But it resulted in a mini cake. I cut the 9" square into four 3" squares and piled them up for a 4 layer cake!

Beautiful taste and I was proud of the result, although I have a lot to learn about decorting a cake!

The recipe for Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting is courtesy of Shuna Fish Lydon (, as published on Bay Area Bites (

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup water (for "stopping" the caramelization process)
In a small stainless steel saucepan, with tall sides, mix water and sugar until mixture feels like wet sand. Brush down any stray sugar crystals with wet pastry brush. Turn on heat to highest flame. Cook until smoking slightly: dark amber.
When color is achieved, very carefully pour in one cup of water. Caramel will jump and sputter about! It is very dangerous, so have long sleeves on and be prepared to step back.
Whisk over medium heat until it has reduced slightly and feels sticky between two fingers. {Obviously wait for it to cool on a spoon before touching it.}
Note: For safety reasons, have ready a bowl of ice water to plunge your hands into if any caramel should land on your skin.

Take 1 (hardened clumps!):

Take 2 (liquid with clumps):

Take 3 (success!):

12 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound confectioner’s sugar, sifted
4-6 tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-4 tablespoons caramel syrup
Kosher or sea salt to taste
Cook butter until brown. Pour through a fine meshed sieve into a heatproof bowl, set aside to cool.
Pour cooled brown butter into mixer bowl.
In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, add confectioner's sugar a little at a time. When mixture looks too chunky to take any more, add a bit of cream and or caramel syrup. Repeat until mixture looks smooth and all confectioner's sugar has been incorporated. Add salt to taste.
Note: Caramelized butter frosting will keep in fridge for up to a month.To smooth out from cold, microwave a bit, then mix with paddle attachment until smooth and light(recipes above courtesy of Shuna Fish Lydon)

10 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature1
1/4 Cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 Cup Caramel Syrup (see recipe below)
2 each eggs, at room temperaturesplash vanilla extract
2 Cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup milk, at room temperature
to do:
Preheat oven to 350F Butter one tall (2 – 2.5 inch deep) 9-inch cake pan. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth. Add sugar and salt & cream until light and fluffy. Slowly pour room temperature caramel syrup into bowl. Scrape down bowl and increase speed. Add eggs/vanilla extract a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down bowl again, beat mixture until light and uniform. Sift flour and baking powder. Turn mixer to lowest speed, and add one third of the dry ingredients. When incorporated, add half of the milk, a little at a time. Add another third of the dry ingredients, then the other half of the milk and finish with the dry ingredients. {This is called the dry, wet, dry, wet, dry method in cake making. It is often employed when there is a high proportion of liquid in the batter.} Take off mixer and by hand, use a spatula to do a few last folds, making sure batter is uniform. Turn batter into prepared cake pan. Place cake pan on cookie sheet or 1/2 sheet pan. Set first timer for 30 minutes, rotate pan and set timer for another 15-20 minutes. Your own oven will set the pace. Bake until sides pull away from the pan and skewer inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool cake completely before icing it. Cake will keep for three days outside of the refrigerator.

The cake on the bottom of the oven:

Dutch Baby

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Dutch Baby
4 teaspoons butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole milk
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch salt
Powdered sugar
Fresh fruit, crushed macerated fruit filling, etc.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees with rack in center.

Whisk flour, milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt together until smooth. Place 1 teaspoon butter into each of 4 small shallow ceramic dishes (or all butter into one 10" glass plate) and place into oven until dishes are hot and butter has melted (but not browned).
Quickly remove dishes from oven and while still hot, pour 1/3 cup batter into each dish (or all into large dish) without stirring into melted butter. Return to oven and bake until golden and puffed, about 20-25 minutes.

Serve immediately from oven. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and add filling of choice.

Fresh Margaritas

Fresh Margaritas!

4 teaspoons grated lime zest
1/2 cup lime juice (from 2-3 limes)
4 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1/2 cup lemon juice (from 2-3 lemons)
1/4 cup superfine sugar
Pinch salt
2 cups crushed ice
1 cup 100% agave tequila, preferably reposado
1 cup Triple Sec

Combine lime zest and juice, lemon zest and juice, sugar, and salt in large liquid measuring cup; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until flavors meld, 4-24 hours.

Divide 1 cup crushed ice between 4-6 margarita glasses. Strain juice mixture into 1-quart pitcher or cocktail shaker. Add tequila, Triple Sec, and remaining crushed ice; stir or shake until thoroughly combined and chilled, 20-60 seconds. Strain into ice-filled glasses and serve immediately.

Makes about 1 quart, serving 4-6

Watermelon Curry

Sunday, September 14, 2008

This is an interesting recipe from Rajasthan, India. The flavor should be hot, sweet, and sour, hence the large amount of chili powder. Quite interesting to eat with rice, or as a side dish.

  • ¼ large watermelon
  • 1½ tsp red chili powder
  • Pinch of turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp garlic purée
  • Salt
  • 2 Tbl oil
  • ¼ tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 - 3 tsp lime or lemon juice
  • Sugar to taste (optional)
  1. Cut up the watermelon, and remove the seeds. Peel off the skin, and chop the flesh into 1½-in cubes. Take 1 cup of the chopped watermelon, blend, and make juice. To the juice add the chili, turmeric, and coriander powders, garlic purée, and salt, to taste.
  2. Heat the oil in a wok, and add the cumin seeds. Within 20 seconds, add the watermelon juice. Lower the heat, and simmer for 5 minutes or so, so that the spices cook completely and the liquid is reduced by 2/3. If using sugar, add it now, then add the lime or lemon juice, and cook for 1 minute.
  3. Add juice compliation to the watermelon cubes. Serve.

Footnote: Serves 2

Goa Pork Vindaloo, Rice Pulao, & Potatoes in Yogurt,

Goa Pork Vindaloo
Vindaloo is a dish made with chilis, garlic, garam masala, and vinegar. The vinegar and oil in this dish act as preservatives, and it freezes extremely well. It can also keep in the refrigerator for 2 days and will, in fact, be better the day after cooking. You can also make just the spice paste in large batches and freeze it, using small amounts as and when needed. This dish is equally good using lamb or beef. Enjoy!

  • 15 - 20 whole red, dried chilis
  • 3½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 6 cloves
  • 2-in cinnamon stick
  • 10 peppercorns
  • ¼ star anise
  • 1 tsp poppy seeds
  • 2 x ¼- in piece of fresh ginger
  • 6 plump garlic cloves
  • 1 Tbl tamarind pulp
  • 4 tsp cider vinegar
  • ½ cup oil
  • 3 medium onions, finely diced
  • 1½ lb. stewing pork, cubed
  • Salt
  • 15 curry leaves, or 1 Tbl curry powder
  1. Soak the chilis in a little water to soften. Then mill all the spices, ginger, garlic, and tamarind with the vinegar in a food processor to make a smooth paste. Rub a little of the spice paste on the pork and marinate for 15 minutes.
  2. Heat the oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven, and fry the onions for about 20 minutes until brown. Add the spice paste and fry for another 5 minutes, stirring continuously and adding 2 tablespoons water if necessary.
  3. Add the pork and sauté in the spice mixture for 5 minutes. Add 4 cups water and salt to taste, and cook over a low heat until tender. Stir in the curry leaves (or powder), and simmer for 3 - 4 minutes. The vindaloo is now ready to be served.

Footnote: Serves 4

Pulao Rice (pictured) This is a good side dish to the Goa Pork Vindaloo.

  • 1 cup Basmati rice (white or brown)
  • 1 small onion, sliced finely
  • 2 Tbl oil
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • ½-in cinnamon stick
  • 1 clove
  • 2 cups boiling water
  1. Heat oil in small skillet or Dutch oven. Fry the onions until deep brown, about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep them from sticking.
  2. Add the rice, bay leaf, cinnamon stick, and clove, and sauté for 2 minutes, stirring continuously.
  3. Add water to rice mixture. Turn heat to low, and cover.
  4. Cook for 10 - 15 minutes until rice is soft and fluffy. Turn off heat and stir rice around in skillet to keep from sticking. Keep covered until ready to serve.

Footnote: Serves 4

Potatoes in Yogurt (pictured) Another good accompaniment to the Goa Pork Vindaloo.

  • About 18 oz brown potaotes
  • 2 medium onions
  • 2 oz coconut, grated (fresh, if you dare; else, use bagged)
  • 6 - 8 green chilis (serranos or jalapeños)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 x ½-in piece of fresh ginger
  • 1½ tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp red chili powder (cayenne or other)
  • 2 Tbl full-fat yogurt
  • 2 Tbl oil
  • 1/8 tsp mustard seeds (or ground mustard)
  • A few curry leaves (or 1 Tbl coriander leaves)
  • Salt
  1. Peel the potatoes, and cut crossways into round slices about ½-in thick.
  2. Purée the onions, green chilis, garlic, ginger, coriander, cumin, half the turmeric powder, and the red chili powder with 2 Tbl water in a food processor.
  3. Whisk the yogurt well with a fork, and set aside.
  4. Boil the potatoes with the remaining ¼ tsp turmeric powder and salt to taste (about 1 tsp). When 75% done, drain and cool.
  5. Heat the oil in a wok, and add the mustard seeds (or ground mustard). When they crackle, put in the curry or corainder leaves, followed by the puréed spices. Fry for 8 - 10 minutes, stirring from time to time.
  6. Add the whisked yogurt, and mix well. Now add ¼ cup water, taste, and season with salt. Add the sliced potatoes, and cook over a low heat until done (about 15 minutes).

Footnote: Serves 4

Pretty Paella

Thursday, July 03, 2008

My great Spanish friend always brings me back saffron from her trips to Tenerife, so I have a great excuse to make paella. This was delicious and so pretty!


  • few T olive oil
  • 3oz chorizo cut into small chunks
  • 4 chicken thighs, de-boned, cut in half
  • 1-2 lbs mussels, cleaned and debearded
  • 1 small Spanish onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • ½ tsp dried red chilli flakes
  • 1/2 red pepper, chopped
  • 200g paella rice, rinsed and drained
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp saffron threads
  • 2 fl oz white wine
  • 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 1/2 pints chicken stock
  • 2 oz frozen peas, thawed
  • 4 large tomatoes, de-seeded and chopped
  • 5 tbsp chopped flatleaf parsley
  • 1 lemon, zest only
  • 1 oz unsalted butter
  • 1/2 - 1lb squid, cleaned and cut into small pieces
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • cilantro, chopped to sprinkle on at the end
to do
    1. Heat half the olive oil in a paella dish or large heavy-based pan over a medium heat, add the chorizo and fry for 2-3 minutes, then remove and set aside.
    2. Add the chicken pieces to the same pan and cook for 2-3 minutes until the skin is browned. Remove and set aside.
    3. Place the mussels into a pan of boiling water, cover and boil until they open. Discard any that do not open. Strain and reserve the mussels and the broth.
    4. Add half the remaining olive oil to the paella pan and fry the onion, two of the cloves garlic, the chilli flakes and the red pepper. Cook slowly until the onion has softened but not browned, about eight minutes.
    5. Add the rice to the pan, stirring well to coat it in the oil, for two minutes, then add the bay leaves, paprika, the toasted saffron, white wine, lemon juice and prepared stock. Cook gently for five minutes.
    6. Add the fried chicken and chorizo, cover with a piece of dampened greaseproof paper and simmer gently for ten minutes.
    7. Stir in the peas. Cover and simmer about five minutes.
    8. Remove the greaseproof paper from the pan and stir in the tomatoes, parsley, lemon zest and butter.
    9. Add the remaining olive oil to a separate frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add the remaining clove of garlic and fry for 2-3 minutes, adding the squid for the last minute. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper and add to the paella.
    10. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve immediately.

    Chicken with Fennel, Red Pepper & Rice

    Sunday, April 20, 2008

    If you've ever wondered
    what to do with a
    fennel bulb, try this
    great recipe. Use
    organic ingredients
    in this recipe whenever

    • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
    • 3 tsp dried thyme
    • 4 Tbl olive oil
    • 1 large fennel bulb
    • 2 red bell pepppers
    • 1 cup long-grain rice
    • 1¾ cup chicken broth
    • 1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
    • ¼ cup white wine
    • Salt and pepper

    1. Sprinkle chicken breasts with salt and pepper, and pat on thyme.
    2. Heat oil in large skillet or Dutch oven, and cook breasts for about 2 minutes on each side.
    3. Cover pan and set aside while preparing vegetables and rice.
    4. Cut fronds from fennel and cut bulb in quarters through the core; remove core and cut fennel into ¼-inch strips.
    5. Cut red pepper into ¼-inch strips.
    6. Place rice, chicken broth, and olive oil in a heavy pan, and bring to boil.
    7. Lower heat, cover, and simmer approx 18 minutes or so without removing cover.
    8. Season with salt and pepper, and stir in Parmesan cheese.
    9. Add 1 Tbl olive oil in large skillet or Dutch oven (that was used to brown the chicken breasts) and heat.
    10. Add fennel and red pepper, and stir fry vegetables approximately 3 minutes. While frying, cut chicken breasts in halves or quarters. Add chicken to vegetables.
    11. Add wine, cover, and cook 5 minutes.
    12. To serve, make a layer of rice on dish, cover with chicken cutlets, and top with fennel and pepper.

    Footnote: Serves 5.

    Smoked Fish Pate

    Saturday, April 12, 2008

    this is just so simple it's crazy! and a real winner with the guests.


    • 250 g (9 oz) smoked fish (i usually use peppered mackerel but trout would be good too. something with strong flavor so maybe not smoked salmon)
    • 150 mL sour cream
    • 1 T horseradish
    • 1 T fresh lemon juice

    to do

    1. chunk the fish (without skin) into a food processor
    2. add sour cream and horseradish and lemon
    3. blitz until all smooth
    4. taste and adjust with more of anything if necessary

    to serve- it's lovely on crackers or on endive leaves (especially pretty too). and champagne is perfect with this appetizer!

    Creamy Potato Bisque

    Sunday, February 24, 2008

    • 6 Tbl butter
    • 1 large onion
    • 1 cup chopped celery (including some leaves)
    • 4 cups peeled, diced thin-skinned potatoes
    • ¼ cup finely chopped parsley
    • ½ tsp salt
    • ¼ tsp freshly ground pepper
    • 4 cups chicken stock or broth
    • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
    • 3 cups nonfat milk
    • 3 Tbl cornstarch
    • ¼ cup water
    • Finely chopped parsley

    1. In a 5- to 6-quart pan, melt 4 Tbl of the butter over medium heat. Add onion and celery, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is very soft (about 15 minutes). Add potatoes, the ¼ cup parsley, ½ tsp salt, ¼ tsp of the pepper, and stock.
    2. Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat, cover, and simmer until potatoes are tender (about 30 minutes).
    3. Stir in heavy whipping cream and milk, and heat, covered, until steaming (do not boil).
    4. Stir together cornstarch and water, and add to soup. Continue cooking and stirring until soup boils and thickens. Season to taste with more salt and freshly ground pepper, if desired.
    5. Just before serving, pour soup into a tureen, float remaining 2 Tbl butter on top, and sprinkle with parsley.

    Footnote: Serves 6 to 8.


    Monday, January 21, 2008

    get your oats! this is a great snack that gives lots of energy!

    125 g butter
    125 g demerara sugar
    5 T golden syrup (maple as a substitute?)
    225 g porrage oats
    1 tsp ground ginger
    raisins, cranberries

    to do

    1. oven 190 C, 375 F. grease 20 cm sandwich tin.
    2. melt butter in pan and stir in sugar and syrup. add oats and ginger; mix well.
    3. use back of metal spoon to press mixture evenly over the base of the tin and smooth over.
    4. bake for 20 min. cool for 15 min then score into 8 wedges.
    5. cool completely, turn out and break into wedges.

    rhubarb fool

    "what you looking at foo!?" fantastic healthy dessert!! (from sainsbury's magazine)


    350 g rhubarb, trimmed and chunked
    few drops water
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    3 T golden caster sugar
    2 cardamom pod
    300 g fat free Greek yogurt

    to do

    oven 180 C. sprinkle rhubarb with water, vanilla and suar. bake 25 min, until soft. split open cardamom pods and crush with morar and pestle. let rhubarb cool and then (use slotted spoon) and but to blender until pureed. fold into yogurt. spoon into glasses and sprinkle with cardamom.

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