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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Gone for a minute...

Hey family! It's been quite a while! I miss you...YEAH, YOU :-)

Things have been good! I found a new apartment and moved in on August 3rd. It's cute, quaint and just cute. I'm still getting furnishings and whatnots. It's in a bit of disarray right now...especially since my good friend is living with me for undisclosed reasons. This should be fun. Trying and faith-stretching, but fun :-) I hope to make the living space all purdy soon. My furniture for my bedroom and dining set comes in this week! That's exciting...expensive, but exciting :-) I met Buttermilk on July 10th! If you don't know who Buttermilk is, she's this adorable li'l diva here:

BUT!!! Before I met her, I visited New York and enjoyed myself. It wasn't the best trip experience for a Texas girl. I didn't get to see all the tourist attractions you read about in magazines and blogs and see in the media (i.e.: Lady Liberty) TRAGIC, I know! It smelled TERRIBLE in most places, and some of the folk were almost as rude as I heard they can be. However, I did see some great spots, including Carlo's Bakery! Get the cream puff, please! I ate some awesome pizza in Hoboken, NJ, and I also hung out upstate since that's where my friend lives. Great folks up there, super awesome farmer's markets and they have a more southern hospitality about them. I definitely want to go back and see more sights. I know I promised pictures...those will come later :-)

Anywho, on Buttermilk...we just didn't work. Her health wasn't in the best condition and I didn't want to pick up the responsibility of a sick kitty cat and I can't care for her the way she needs. I'll miss her sweet little face, though. I will say, I met a new friend. I'll have to post some pictures of him. His name is Konrad and he likes chicky and fishy lol! He's my neighbor's cat and tends to roam around outside. He comes by ever so often to snack and hang out. He's sweet and LOUD! Lol. I get my furry friend fix with Konrad. It helps during a time of wanting a pet, but having to buy furniture and pay grown-up bills.

Moving on...

I've been cooking/baking on and off. One of my sorority sisters' birthday was a short while ago and that means DESSERTS...I mean celebration of her life and love...?! I made a trifle with a coconut rum pastry cream and bittersweet ganache and strawberries. Funny story about this trifle...

I made it about a month ago and it all started when my community group decided to hold a going away party for a friend who got a job in Boston (read: Bah-stihn). My then roommate and I took on the task of making a Boston Cream Cake/Pie--cheesy, I know :-) Well, my roommate got busy, but helped buy the ingredients haha! Anywho, I was left to my own vices, which wasn't a bad thing. I love baking and am good at it, not to toot my own horn.

I started out with a basic yellow cake recipe from A Bountiful Kitchen and added a bit of rum extract--no real rum available...please use it if you have it! I then followed the pastry cream recipe from A Bountiful Kitchen to the 'T.' I didn't care for the use of corn syrup in my glaze, so I went for a basic 1 ½:1 chocolate to cream ratio when it came to my ganache. I whip up the batter and fill my pans...WITHOUT COATING THEM! I'm praying to my dear Savior that this cake doesn't stick considering that the pans are new and "non-stick." Pshhh, yeah right! I was too much of a bum to remove the batter, clean the pans and then refill the pans. So I crossed my fingers and put it in my preheated oven. I then whipped up the ganache and the pastry cream and awaited the cake in the oven. Open to check: OVERFLOW!!! Before the batter had a chance to hit the oven floor, I put down a sheet of foil on the bottom rack. I'm a bit flustered at this point, because the directions (after searching through comments, etc.) said to use two round 9inch pans. Obviously, I needed three pans. I tried to not stress as my delicious pastry cream and ganache cooled. Once my timer beeped, I take the cake layers out--one isn't done baking and another sinks. I cry a bit on the inside as I return the undercooked one to the oven. After a few minutes, I let them both cool and try to turn them out of the pans...to no avail! I'm floored and deeply saddened. After prying as gently as I could, I slammed the pans on the counter, walked outside and cried. I was really upset. It was probably more than the cake at that point, but that put the icing on it--no pun necessarily intended. After gathering myself, I returned to the kitchen with a plan...

The cake was delicious and the crumb was nice, both the pastry cream and ganache was completed and I had some extra strawberries in the fridge. TRIFLE! Thank God for the introduction to Food Network.  I broke the cake into chunks and began to layer in the prettiest clear glass bowl I owned--cake, cream, chocolate, cake, cream, chocolate, and so on. I topped it off with chopped strawberries. It was pretty, it was yummy, it was a hit at the community group going away party! My sorority sister requested to have the trifle on her birthday! Ha...funny how a blunder can turn into a good thing.

Needless to say, I made it again with a few tweaks and shortcuts in favor of time. It was great and I failed to photograph the end result (both times). If she happened to take a picture, I'll share it. Below, I will share what I did for the trifle :-P" (my drool face)

Coconut Rum Trifle with Chocolate Ganache and Strawberries

For the cake:
1 box of butter cake mix prepared per the instructions (I used HEB's Hill Country Fair brand...needed ingredients below. You could also use your favorite cake recipe)
---- 3 eggs
---- 1 stick of butter, softened (I dislike margarine in baked goods...strongly dislike!)
---- 2/3 cups of water
---- 1/2 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut folded into the batter (An addition I think would be SPLENDID if I'd had it on hand. If I make it again...ooohhhh maaannn!)
---- 1/2 - 1 teaspoon of rum extract (or 1-2 tablespoons of real rum...please, real rum!)

For the ganache
12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips (or chocolate of your choice)
8 oz. cream

Chop the chocolate finely and place in a medium mixing bowl. (I love this set of bowls!) Bring the cream to a boil and remove from heat. Pour the cream over the chocolate and set aside for a few minutes. Stir until smooth with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. Do not use a whisk because it can create air bubbles in your ganache. Unless you like air bubbles...#YOLO. Cover ganache with cling wrap to prevent moisture and a 'skin' from forming. Allow ganache to cool to room temperature. Eat by the spoonful. Or use it for this recipe and other fun things like truffles and frosting! :-)

For the pastry cream
adapted from CravingChronicles.com by way of BraveTart

3 large eggs
1 egg yolk (save the white for breakfast or something fun like meringues!)
5 ounces granulated sugar (I used turbinado sugar because that's what I had on hand)
1.5 ounces cornstarch
pinch of kosher salt
15.5 oz coconut milk, full fat preferred
1/2 - 1 teaspoon rum extract (or 1-2 tablespoons of real rum...again, please!)
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
vanilla bean, scraped if you have it
OR 1 teaspoon of vanilla bean paste to replace both the extract and bean
I purchased my Bourbon Vanilla Bean Paste by Nielsen-Massey Vanillas from the Food Network Store

In a large bowl, whisk eggs, yolk, sugar, cornstarch, and salt until combined and free of lumps.

Bring coconut milk to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Slowly pour 2/3 cup hot coconut milk into the egg mixture, whisking briskly and constantly, to temper the eggs because scrambled eggs are to be made with the leftover egg white for breakfast, not in your pastry cream. Add tempered egg mixture back to coconut milk on the stove, whisking constantly. Continue to cook over medium heat, whisking, until mixture becomes very thick, like pudding. Taste it once or twice...or thrice. Yes, thrice is a word.

Pour pastry cream through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl, just in case you decided to scramble a few bits while thinking about tomorrow's breakfast. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, pushing the wrap onto the surface of the pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Once you have all the ingredients chilled appropriately, assemble as follows:

Cake cubes (1-2 inch pieces)
Pastry Cream
Cake cubes
Eat a cake cube or 5 and hope there will be enough to finish a few more layers :)
Make your last layer ganache and top with chopped fruit of choice. I used strawberries, but I imagine something tropical like banana or pineapple or BOTH would be great with the coconut and chocolate :)

I'll write again VERY soon. We have so much to catch up on: food, health, and all God is doing in my life!


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