Sunday, October 31, 2010

Harvest Cake

Welcome to Red Couch Recipes!   When I used to live closer to my sister Jacqueline at Purple Chocolat Home, we used to hold Martha Stewart Days.  One of the cakes we used to make was this Harvest Cake.  It combines my love of chocolate and marzipan.

 This year, Jacqueline and I met at my home and made the Chocolate Cake.  We are both posting it today; so if you have looked at the cake at Jacqueline's site, this will be a repeat.  We made one cake, but we are both posting it; we took separate photos.  I was the fortunate cake keeper and it was so delicious.  I gifted a few friends with a large wedge and some marzipan fruits on the side.

My love of marzipan came when as a young girl my mother and I would visit the Swiss Colony Store at the Hilldale Mall in Madison, Wisconsin.  There you could find individual wrapped pieces of fruit or vegetable-shaped marzipan for sale.  My mother would indulge me in this treat from time to time.  As a young girl, I even tried my hand at making home made marzipan -- not with a lot of success back then.  Store bought marzipan IS really easy and fun to work with.

So when I saw this cake on the Women's Day cover in 2002, I knew we had to make it!  One thing we forgot to add this year are chocolate leaves -- maybe next year I will remember.  I make this cake almost every year in November.  Last year my daughter sand I made it together; they loved shaping the marzipan -- a fun activity for kids.

I usually only make a two -layered cake, but Jacqueline, the Queen of Cakes, knows how to make "Showstopper Cakes"  -- so we made a three layer cake.  I agree with Jacqueline -- the third layer really makes the cake spectacular. See her "Showstopper Cake Tips"  below.  I actually was lazy and just copied her instructions for this post, with a few edits. Thanks Jacqueline.

Harvest Cake Recipe
3 layers chocolate cake, using your favorite recipe
1 recipe Chocolate Butter Cream -- See below for recipe.
1 recipe Chocolate Ganache -- See below for recipe.
2- 7 ounce tubes Marzipan -- Jacqueline says to squeeze the prepared marzipan tube to see if it is fresh.  The tube comes in a box -- you can squeeze the tube through the box.  This is good advice.  If you buy hard marzipan, you can not really form the fruits for your cake.  Because marzipan is expensive, you could get by with one tube.
Paste Food Coloring
Cocoa Powder and Powdered Sugar  -- this helps to soften the colors.


On desired cake plate, put a few tablespoons buttercream to anchor the cake. Lay one cake, top side down, cover with a thick layer of buttercream, stopping 1/2 inch away from edge. Top with second layer, bottom side down, cover with buttercream. (Trim the top of this layer if necessary to make it level.) Top with final layer, bottom side down. Cover with chocolate buttercream, making it smooth.  Frost with chocolate ganache.

The three-layered cake waiting to be crumb coated.

The cake with it's crumb coating on.

Decorate with marzipan fruit and vegetables. We usually make pumpkins, apples, and pears.  Dust, using a small-holed sieve with powdered sugar and cocoa powder

Chocolate Buttercream Recipe

3/4 cup softened butter
4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp. vanilla
3-4 tablespoons water ( add more if necessary)

Beat all ingredients with your mixer in a large bowl. Add water slowly and add additional if
needed. Frosting needs to be soft and fluffy.

Chocolate Ganache

3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup heavy whipping cream

Heat the cream just until bubbles form around the edge.  Place the chips in a bowl and pour the cream over the chips. Stir until melted. Continue to stir until it is the consistency of frosting.

Marzipan Pumpkins and Fruit

-- We used two 7 oz. tubes of  marzipan (found in your baking aisle) 
-- Paste food coloring (found at craft stores)

Pinch off desired amount of marzipan and use the paste coloring to color it. It is nice to use gloves
while doing this so your hands don't get colored. Shape the fruit and vegetables, using toothpicks to
add detail. Curl the vines around toothpicks.

The perfect Thanksgiving Cake!

Jacqueline's Tips for A Showstopper Cake!

1. Make 3 layers of cake (1 1/2 recipes so it is tall). Really bigger is always better if you want a standout cake!

2. Line bottom of pan only with parchment and don't grease the sides of the cake pan. This lets the cake rise evenly. Bake cakes and cool for 10 minutes. When cool, run knife around pad edge to help release the cake from the pan. Turn cakes out on cooling rack.

3. Wait until cake is cooled to frost!!! In fact, it would be better to freeze the cake for a bit before you frost and fill.

4. Make sure frosting and filling are soft enough to spread. If your cake starts to fall apart as you spread the frosting, stop and add a little more liquid, only 1/2 tablespoon at a time.

5. Spread filling to within 1/2 inch of the edge, otherwise it will squeeze out.

6. Use 3-4 bamboo skewers to hold all 3 layers together, cutting so that they don't show above the top layer.

7. Cover cake with a crumb coat using a flat metal spatula.

8. Frost sides first, then top, place a knife full of frosting about mid-way up the side, then slide the
frosting almost to the bottom, then spread frosting up and let it extend above the top just a
bit so when you frost the top you have a lip to meet up with.

9. When you have covered it with frosting, use the back of a spoon to add the desired texture and swirls.

Thanks for dropping by Red Couch Recipes!

Posted with the following Blog Parties:

Friday, October 29, 2010

My Daughter's Fondant Cake

My fourteen year old daughter (Tati of Polka Dot Pantry Sweets) and her friend Carla made this adorable cake as a test cake for a cake competition at their junior high.  I thought it came out so cute.  It was the first three-layer cake that either of them had ever made.  There were 46 cake entrants -- they didn't win in the fondant category, but, being her mom, I though that they should have!  The cake they made for the competition looked even better; I didn't incude a photo because the photo quality wasn't very good in the gym.  They learned a lot about cake making and fondant.  We got the idea for the top part of the cake from Frenchy. 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wicked Witch of the West Fingers

Welcome to Zoulah's "Bewitchen Kitchen."

Would you like to make some fun witch fingers?  I have been making them for years.  It wouldn't seem Halloween without making witch fingers some time during the season.  I have a little neighbor friend who loves them.  They whip up quickly and present well.

These were served on the Witchie Poo Tablescape.

Recipe for Witch Fingers

3/4 cup butter
1 egg
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Green coloring
Sugar for sprinkling on fingers
Whole Almonds

Fingers waiting to be baked.

In large bowl, combine butter, egg, and sugar and beat until well blended.  Add  almond extract, salt, and flour.  Then add green coloring.  Refrigerate dough for at least two hours.  Form dough into fingers, with the bottom of the finger being slightly fatter than the top.  They should be about 3-1/2 inches in length. See top finger on the picture below.  Then pinch each finger to give the fingers joints (see second finger)  and then pat it and mold it a bit to get it to look like a finger.  Then add wrinkles on the joints with the back of a knife (see third finger below) and whole almonds to the tips.   Sprinkle a little sugar on fingers.  Put fingers in refrigerator for about 20 minutes to reduce cookies from spreading.   Bake in 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes.  If cookies have spread too much, when warm try to re-form.  I like using this recipe, instead of a shortbread recipe, but they do tend to spread a bit.

As always Zoulah thanks you for dropping by Red Couch Recipes.

Posted with the following:  Halloween Party

Witchie-Poo's Table

Zoulah welcomes you to her Bewitchen Kitchen and invites you to take a look at Witchie-Poo's Table.  Zoulah wants you to know that she isn't the ONLY witch that resides with the Red Couch Family.

Here's a shot of the placesetting.

Zoulah would like to introduce you to Witchie-Poo.  Witchie-Poo has been in the Red Couch family longer than Zoulah.  Talley, the Red Couch daughter, is always anxious for Witchie-Poo to come out of the garage at Halloween.  Joni and her sister Jacqueline each made a witch quite a few years ago at a local craft store class. She is quite a grand old dame and taught Zoulah everything she knew in the kitchen before she retired.

Here are her shoes.  She wears orange and black striped tights.

A lovely hand, don't you agree?  The hands were actually not that hard to make, but it was a different story for the face. 

Zoulah made some Witch Finger cookies to resemble Withie-Poo's fingers.

Let's take the cloche off to get a better view.

Now let's really meet Withie-Poo.  She is wearing a new Halloween apron.


 Of course Zoulah cackled with delight when she saw the Halloween aprons that Jacqueline at Purple Chocolat Home had whipped up.  She was a bit green with envy and complained stated that she not only doesn't have a new Halloween apron, but she couldn't enter Jacqueline's giveaway for a new witch hat.

Jaqueline has a soft spot for Zoulah and Beaulah, her twin sister who resides at Purple Chocolat Home,  and gifted an apron as a "pseudo-giveaway" -- since she can't win giveaways on Jacqueline's site -- it just wouldn't look right if Joni won.  When Zoulah saw the apon, she thought it was for her -- after all who HAS been doing the Halloween cooking and baking in the Red Couch home this season?  She tried it on.

Even Zoulah agreed -- with much regret -- that the apron would fit Witchie-Poo better.

Thanks Jacqueline!  We all love it -- it is just so Halloween-y!

 Here's an overhead shot.

Zoulah would like you to meet Stella, the other green-faced witch residing at the Red Couch Home. The green witches like to stick together.

Here's a few other witchie friends.

Here's one last shot.

Zoulah thanks you oodles and oodles for stopping by Red Couch Recipes and viewing Witchie-Poo's Table.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Fast and Easy Votive Halloween Giftie

Welcome to Zoulah's Bewitchen Kitchen!

Zoulah is cackling with delight as she brings you this fast and easy Halloween giftie!  It's a great little gift for friends, teachers, and co-workers.  One of my daughters gave these to her friends at Valentine's Day filled with Hershey kisses.

On a side note, Zoulah wants to wish Joni's mom, Nedra, a Happy Birthday today.  She has been gone for over 20 years now and we love her and miss her.  She was a huge inspiration to her daughters and sons in the kitchen.  She also inspired us to love to learn and to try new things. 

All you need are the following:

1. Glass votives
2. Cupcake liners
3.  Ribbon
4.  Candy or little gifties that shine

Zoulah's Notes:
Use a thin ribbon.  For candy, use candy with foil wrappers -- it looks pretty through the glass.  You could also put in a watch, a necklace, bracelet, or a charm.

Zoulah thanks you for stopping by Red Couch Recipes from the top of her witchie hat to the bottom of her witchie toes.


Monday, October 25, 2010

Witch Shoes for Zoulah

I brought out my Halloween shoes that I only wear during the month of October the other day.  I have had them for many years.

Zoulah turned green with envy.   See she's green!  You see Zoulah has shoe envy.

Well, since I am a good witch caretaker I decided to make Zoulah some new Halloween shoes.  She was so excited to have some new shoes.

Zoulah feels like these shoes are the perfect little container for yummy treats for friends, teachers, luncheons.  They whip up really quickly, require few items to make and are just soooo cute!  We gave them out last year filled with homemade licorice caramels.  Click HERE for recipe.

Witchie Shoe Instructions:

-- One 8.5 x 11 piece of heavier scrapbook paper -- it is best to use cardstock.  This is for the outer shoe.
-- One 8.5 x 11 piece of lighter scrapbook paper -- This is for the lining.
-- Glue gun and glue
-- Ribbon and buttons and other goodies for adornment
-- Candy to fill

Click HERE for the template; this will link you to the Skip to My Lou blog where I found this last year.  These were designed by Ellen Hutson.  Copy the templates directly on the scrapbook paper -- that's tough if your paper is black.  You can also copy them off and then cut out the templates and trace the templates on your scrapbook paper.  Just follow the lines for folding and put it together.  It really comes together quite quickly after the first one --- and my 10th grade geometry teacher would tell you I wasn't the brightest in his class.  Adorn with cute bows, buttons, etc.  Fill with yummy candy. 

These little shoes are so versatile.  My church Activity Day girls made these for their moms for Mother's Day.  They would be also cute for Christmas or Valentine's Day.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Licorice and Chocolate Spider Webs

Zoulah gives a warm witchie welcome to her Bewitchen Kitchen! 

Zoulah asks what self respecting witch would eat her blueberry pomegranate ice cream without a spider web?  The webs are fun and easy for all to make.  Even Zoulah's pet spider Leggs approves of these webs.  Zoulah spied the idea from a 2000 Martha Stewart magazine.

Instructions for Making Licorice Spider Webs

Licorice Laces
Chocolate -- Zoulah used milk chocolate chips

On a piece of waxed paper make an X with two long strands of licorice and fill in the web with shorter pieces  that resemble an asterisk. 

Zoulah says that the only tricky part is the licorice which likes to curl.  You can try to straighten it by stretching it a little bit.

 Pour melted chocolate into a pastry bag, or a Ziploc bag with a small hole snipped in the corner.  Pipe a large chocolate dot in the center of web uniting all the licorice pieces.  Then draw concentric chocolate circles around center.  Let stand an hour and then peel off parchment paper and place on ice cream.

Zoulah thanks you with a big witchie hug for dropping by her Bewitchen Kitchen at Red Couch Recipes.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Spicy Pumpkin Cookies

Zoulah Welcomes You Once Again to Her Bewitchen Kitchen.
Zoulah found this cute Wilton cookie cutter and she had a plan.  See cookie cutter below.  She wanted to make some sugar cookies, but not just any sugar cookies.  She wanted to flavor the cookies with spices and then dye the dough orange and brown.  When she went to dye a small amount of the dough brown she cackled with disappointment when she realized that the Red Couch Kitchen had no brown coloring.  What's a witch to do?  She used cocoa instead. 

The cocoa in the cookies tasted delicious.  The cookies came out so big and fun.  The Red Couch Kids loved them in their lunches.  Zoulah featured these on her "Too Many Pumpkins" tablescape.

The shapes are interchangeable and are fun to create a Jack-O-Lantern face with. 

This recipe makes a hard sugar cookie; this is good since the cookie cutter makes a large cookie and the hardness provides stability.  The recipe has been adapted from Beaulah, (Purple Chocolat Home),  Zoulah's twin sister.

Recipe and instructions for Pumpkin Cookies

1 box Betty Crocker French Vanilla Cake Mix (dry)
1 egg
1/2 cup very soft butter.
2-4 tablespoons of flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg.

Zoulah's Notes:  You can modify the amount of spices for your taste.

Put dry cake mix, egg, and butter in medium mixing bowl.  Beat with a mixer until thoroughly mixed.  Then separate a small amount of cookie dough and dye it brown for the pumpkin face and stem.  Dye the remaining dough with orange coloring.  You do not need to refrigerate this dough.  Roll out the dough adding up to 4 tablespoons of flour, if necessary.  Zoulah did not add any extra flour.  Cut out pumpkins with cutters.  Zoulah placed brown Jack-O-Lantern cut out faces on top of the orange pumpkins; you can also just cut out a face on the pumpkin.  Bake in 350 degree oven for 8 to 10 minutes.

Zoulah thanks you from the top of her witchie hat for dropping by Red Couch Recipes.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Cabbage Patch Stew

Welcome to Zoulah's Bewitchen Kitchen!

The fall weather starts to chill and when that happens Zoulah thinks of soup -- can you believe Zoulah is posting something that is not sweet?  Zoulah has a sweet tooth during Halloween.  When I was first married, my mother-in-law, Geniel, made this soup on a cool Halloween evening.  Ever since then I have always associated this soup with Halloween.

Recipe for Cabbage Patch Stew

1-1/2 pounds ground beef
4 ribs celery, diced
1 large diced onion
1 package of cole slaw or 1/2 cabbage head diced into small pieces -- If you use the cole slaw, use the small package available in produce.
2 cups water
3 (15 ounce) cans kidney beans -- not drained
` 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
1 large (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt

In large sauce pan or Dutch Oven, brown and drain ground beef.  Add onions, celery, cole slaw or cabbage, and water  to beef and simmer for 15 minutes.  Add remaining ingredients and simmer another 30 minutes. 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Too Many Pumpkins Tablescape

I've learned there are three things you don't discuss with people: religion, politics and the Great Pumpkin.

--Linus --

Welcome to Centerpiece Wednesday and Tablescape Thursday!  We are pleased to bring you this pumpkin tablescape inspired by the adorable book "Too Many Pumpkins."  The book is based, in part, on a true story of the author's aunt who hated pumpkins.  When she was a child, she was forced to eat so many pumpkins from their family's farm during the Depression years.  In the end, the main character, Rebecca Estelle learns to love pumpkins again. 

I won this lovely book several weeks ago from the blog In The Details hosted by Gabe who has a beautiful family and eloquently talks about her life in my beautiful home state of Wisconsin.  Thank you Gabe!

I bought these adorable salad plates years ago at a local grocery store.  Zoulah just loves them!

The pumpkin napkin rings, I bought on clearance at Wal-Mart, make their debut in this tablescape.

Unlike Rebecca Estelle, Zoulah and I agree there can never be too many pumpkins!  Zoulah and I are wild about pumpkins.

I like all kinds of pumpkins -- and have even warmed a bit to the white ones.

I adore the warty kinds -- how about you Zoulah?  No offence intended!

Much to Rebecca Estelle's dismay, she has a lot of "volunteer" pumpkins grow in her garden.   We, at the Red Couch home would smile on our good fortune if that happened.  We are not very skilled at growing pumpkins.

I think every porch should be adorned with a pumpkin or two at Halloween.  I love it when people have a huge harvest and show it off on their porch.

Zoulah was busy making pumpkin cookies in her Bewitchen Kitchen.  She asks that you take a few on your way out.

Zoulah thanks you for stopping by Red Couch Recipes.