Friday, December 30, 2011

Mrs. Kringle's Whole Wheat Cake Draped in Milk Chocolate Ganache and Cranberry Coulis

Hi everyone and welcome to Red Couch Recipes.  I hope you have been having a wonderful time with family and friends  and you are ready to ring in the New Year.  I developed this cake recipe for a Hodgson Mill Holiday Recipe Contest.  In the hurry of the holidays, I didn't post it.  I love baked goods with whole wheat flour and this one is a gussied up chocolate cake perfect for holiday get togethers.

.Mrs. Kringle's Whole Wheat Chocolate Cake Draped In Milk Chocolate Ganache and Cranberry Coulis

Yield:  12 servings; Preparation Time:  2 Hours

Step 1 -  Make Whole Wheat Chocolate Cake

Recipe for Whole Wheat Chocolate Cake

1 cup butter
1-1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
2 -1/2 cups Hodgson Mill Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 teaspoon baking soda
7/8 cup boiling water (or 14 tablespoons)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 2 (8-inch round cake pans) or line cake rounds with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. In a large bowl, cream butter and brown sugar. Then add 2 eggs and beat well. In a medium, and separate, bowl, add the whole wheat flour and cocoa together. In a small bowl, add the buttermilk, almond extract, and orange zest together. Then add the flour mixture and buttermilk mixture to the creamed butter and sugar mixture. alternately, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Add to mixture the baking soda. Finally, add the 7/8 cup boiling water all at once and mix thoroughly. Pour immediately into prepared pan(s) and bake at 350 degrees 30-35 minutes..Let cake sit in cake pans for 5 minutes, then move to wire rack to cool. While cake is cooling make cranberry coulis, milk chocolate ganache, and candied pistachios and cranberries.

Step 2 -- Make Cranberry Coulis

Cranberry Coulis Recipe

1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup orange juice
4 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
6 teaspoons orange zest
1 teaspoon corn starch

Rinse cranberries with water and place in colander to drain water. Place all ingredients in blender or food processor and process until finely ground. Remove ingredients from the food processor and place in a medium saucepan and cook on medium high heat until mixture is brought to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook for about 8 minutes or until mixture is reduced. Cool mixture and then place in fine sieve, with bowl underneath, and strain mixture until only the skins and the peel of the orange remain in the sieve. It is helpful to use a spoon and keep pressing the fruit against the bottom of the sieve. Refrigerate until used.

Step 3 -- Make Milk Chocolate Ganache

Milk Chocolate Ganache Recipe

12 ounces fine quality milk chocolate chips
1-1/3 cups whipping cream

Place chocolate chips in a medium size bowl and set aside. Place cream in a medium size saucepan and bring to a boil. Place cream in the bowl with the chocolate chips and whisk until fully combined. It will thicken quite rapidly. Cool slightly before applying to cake.

Step 4 -- Candied Pistachios and Sugared Cranberries 

Sugared Pistachios

1/2 cup chopped pistachios, roasted and salted

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Place sugar and pistachios in a medium sauce pan. On medium heat, heat the sugar and pistachios until the sugar just barely begins to melt. Working quickly, using a heat-proof utensil, quickly cover the pistachios with melted sugar. Remove sugared pistachios from heat and cool.

Sugared Cranberries

Wash 1/2 cup of fresh cranberries and drain in colander. Roll cranberries in 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar.

Step 5 -- Assembly

1. Working quickly, because the ganache can harden, take one 8-inch cake round and place on cake pedestal or large plate.

2. Spread 1 cup milk chocolate ganache evenly on top of cake layer.

3. Take second 8-inch cake layer and place on top of first layer of cake.

4. Take remaining ganache and pour on top of cake so that it drapes the cake. If ganache has cooled too much, place saucepan back on burner on low heat until the proper consistency has been reached. Allow ganache draped on cake to cool and harden.

5. Top ganache with 1 cup cranberry coulee. If desired, allow coulee to drip down the sides of the cake.

6. Top cake with sugared pistachios and cranberries and powdered sugar. Circle cake with about 16 cranberries on the outer edge of the cake top. In the center of the circle place the candied pistachios. Decorate base of cake with sugared cranberries. Apply powdered sugar by putting a small amount of powdered sugar in small-holed sieve, shake gently over cake to achieve desired effect.

7. Serve slices of cake with cranberry coulis on top. If desired, serve warm, by reheating slices of cake in the oven. We love any chocolate cake heated up, but it is good served cold too!

Have a great New Year!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Hope at Christmas and All Year Long

Merry Christmas from Red Couch Recipes.  There is HOPE and Joy for all of us at Christmas!

For years, I have decorated my tree with those things that remind me about the true reason for Christmas.  This Christmas I bring to you a message of HOPE and Joy! 

There is Hope for all of us.  We do not have to go through life alone.

In  Matthew 11:28-30 of the Holy Bible we read:

"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

There is HOPE  for the distressed and anxious.

There is HOPE for those that suffer with addictions.

There is HOPE  for the unemployed.

There is HOPE  for the abused.

There is HOPE  for the depressed.

There is HOPE for the dieing.

There is HOPE for those that have lost a loved one.

There is HOPE for those that have lost their way.

There is HOPE for those that feel unloved.

There is HOPE  that have been unfairly judged.

There is HOPE for those in despair.

There is HOPE for those who have been mistreated.

There is JOY in the Christmas season because Jesus was born!

There is JOY in the Christmas season because Jesus was born!

"And the angel said unto them: Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tiding of great Joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savour, which is Christ the Lord." (Luke 2:  10-11)

If you have lost your way, please trust in the Lord and pray to Him!  He is the only true source of light.  My favorite scripture for years has been the following:

"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him and he shall direct thy paths."
Proverbs 3: 5-6

Merry Christmas from Red Couch Recipes!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Coal from Santa

Welcome to Red Couch Recipes!

I am sure that you know someone who has been naughty and not nice this year -- I know a few deserving people.  Luckily, you don't have to live in a coal-rich area like I do to give them some coal!  In case Santa might make a mistake and forget to give them coal, you can make some "coal" up in a jiffy!

I saw this idea on Pinterest and thought it would be so cute.  Just make your recipe for Rice Krispies and add some black food coloring and roll into "Coal Balls."  We used Cocoa Pebbles, so we wouldn't have to use so much black food coloring ;).

In case you don't have a recipe for Rice Krispies, here is one.

3 tablespoons butter (don't use margarine -- Santa doesn't approve of it!)
40 large (10-ounce bag) marshmallows or 4 cups miniature marshmallows
5 cups Rice Krispies or Cocoa Pebbles
Black Food Coloring

Prepared buttered 13 x 9 pan and set aside.  In a large sauce pan, melt the butter, then add the marshmallows, stirring until they are melted and incorporated into the butter.  Add Rice Krispies or Cocoa Pebbles to the marshmallow mixture and mix well with a long handled spoon.  Add small amount of black food coloring, then mix well.  Add more if needed.  Put Rice Krispie mixture into pan and allow to cool.  Put buttered baggies on your hands to avoid staining and form into balls.

Now we all know the Big Guy is rather busy at this season, so give him a hand and give out some coal to some deserving soul.  I am sure you can think of someone...

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Friday, December 16, 2011

Socks for Christmas Poem

A Merry Christmas greeting from Red Couch Recipes!

This is such a fun and useful gift idea -- socks for Christmas.  I really do think the dryer or washer eats socks at our home, so when I opened a Christmas package containing a package of socks for each member of my family from my sister-in-law Camille, I was very thrilled.  When asked what he wanted for Christmas, my father used to always say, "Socks!"

No, we didn't wait until Christmas to open up the package!  In fact, I have a pair on right as I am typing!  Enclosed with the packages of socks was this cute poem.

Oh, my feet are really chilly,
for my socks are rather thin.
If you hung them in the window,
they would let the sunshine in.

And it feels a little funny when my
toes and heels are showing,
They just might freeze inside my boots
when it should go to snowing.

So, I want socks for Christmas
don't laugh because it's true,
they can come in any color
(though my favorites would be blue).

You can buy them in a package,
You can get them in a pair.
And, if I get one hundred,
I will just have socks to spare!

You may think that I am kidding
but the truth of this be sworn;
I would like some socks for Christmas
Just to keep my piggies warm!

Thanks Camille, this was really fun! 

Posted with the following:  Weekend Wrapup, Made By You Monday

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Candy Cane Chocolate Cake

A Merry Christmas Welcome to Red Couch Recipes!

An easy way to dress up a cake during the Christmas season is to add some candy canes to a cake.  It gives the cake a Christmas look and flavor.   I took this cake to a church Christmas dinner on Friday night -- it was easy to put together and delicious.  If you are short on time, you could even gussy up a store-bought cake to give it a bit of panache.

I frosted my cake with Chocolate Butter Cream Frosting, see below, and added some mini candy canes, some chocolate curls, and some crushed soft peppermints.  I like to use Bob's Peppermint rods -- they are softer than traditional candy canes.  I made the small curls with a vegetable peeler and a chocolate bar.

I made my mother Nedra's Whole Wheat Chocolate Cake, because I love its texture and flavor.

1 cup butter
2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
2 -1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
7/8 cup boiling water

Grease and flour a 9 x 13 pan or 2 (8-inch round cake pans). In a large bowl, cream butter and brown sugar. Then add 2 eggs and beat well. In a medium, and separate, bowl, add the whole wheat flour and cocoa together. In a small bowl, add the buttermilk and vanilla together. Then add the flour mixture and buttermilk mixture to the creamed butter and sugar mixture. alternately, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Add to mixture the baking soda. Finally, add the 7/8 cup boiling water all at once and mix thoroughly. Pour immediately into prepared pan(s) and bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes if using a 13 x 9 x 2 pan or 25 to 30 minutes if using the 8-inch round pans. Frost with Chocolate Butter Cream Frosting -- see recipe below.

Chocolate Butter Cream Frosting

Blend together 3/4 cup room temperature butter, 4 cups powdered sugar, 1/2 cup cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 3-4 tablespoons water. You may need to add extra water, depending on how thick you want it.  I always like a moist frosting.

While frosting is still moist, place small candy canes on the side of the cake.  Add crushed peppermint rods and chocolate curls to the top of the cake.  Make sure to add some crushed peppermint to the cake platter to give it that Christmas feeling.

Thanks for dropping by Red Couch Recipes!

Posted with the following:  Weekend Wrapup, Made By You Monday

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Red and Green Christmas Whimsy

At Red Couch Recipes, you know I love red and I also love lime green at Christmastime.  Come on and sit a bit at my table.

The table is set and we are ready to eat a fine Christmas feast.  The red bowls, red dinnerplates, and green salad plates are just some of my everyday dishes.

The footed cake platter was a gift from my sister Jacqueline, Purple Chocolat Home, a Christmas or two ago.  I just love those footed cake platters -- so cute and whimsical.

The green mugs are a new addition to my holiday dishware.  I have 5 in green and 5 in red.  They go perfectly with the red and green pitcher.  They were $1.00 at Tai Pan Trading.

I bought quite a few dozen of those icy candy canes years ago at a craft store.  I festooned them on my cellophane bags of toffee that I gave out and thankfully saved enough to decorate my trees.

Here's a long shot.  I love those oversized jingle bells that add to the whimsical feeling of this table.

The little footed bowl was purched at TJ Maxx and more last year.  So cute.

Thanks for dropping by my Whimsical Christmas Table.

Table Information

Red Dinner Plates, Red Placemats, Small Whimsical Plates, Pitcher:  Wal-Mart
Red Bowls:  Michael's
Lime Green Salad Plates:  Smith's Grocery Store
Flatware:  World Market
Napkins:  Target
Napkin Rings:  Style Sisters
Water Glasses, Ceramic Mugs:  Tai Pan Trading
Footed Cake Plate:  Gift
Large "Cookie" Plate:  Hallmark
Small Footed Bowl:  TJ Maxx
Large Jingle Bells:  Robert's Arts and Crafts
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Sunday, December 4, 2011

Italian Breakfast Strata and Hodgson Mill Giveaway Winner

Planning for a Christmas morning breakfast, then this just might be the ticket!  It whips up it minutes and you make it the night before and just pop it in the oven in the morning.  Don't you just love things that you can prepare the night before, especially for Christmas morning when the kids just want to jump at the presents. 

With the aid of Random. Org, Commenter Number 15 is the winner of the $25 Gift Code for the online Hodgson Mill Stores.  Start your oven  Marlis (Creative Journeys)!  Marlis creates beautiful tablescapes on her blog and is a very gracious blogger.  I know you will bake up something delicious!  I just used Hodgson Mill whole-wheat flour for a cake and it was so yummy and moist. 


We always eat a huge breakfast on Christmas morning and the rule is that the children can only open their stockings before breakfast -- the kids have to wait to open their presents until after breakfast.   Yes, I am a mean mother :).

The Broken Bread

Ingredients for Italian Breakfast Strata
Adapted from the December 2011 issue of Family Circle

1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes (NOT soaked in oil)
1 cup water
1 pound of sweet Italian sausage with casings removed
1 each of green and red bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced
8 green onions, diced
1 loaf Italian bread (14 ounces), cut into 1-inch cubes
8 large eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup packed basil leaves, chopped
2 cups shredded  mozzarella
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

When I was making this, I felt very Christmas-y with all the red and green going on.

1.  Bring 1 cup of water to boil.  Place sun-dried tomatoes in a bowl and add water.  Let stand 10 minutes to soften tomatoes.
2.  Meanwhile, place sausage into a large nonstick skillet.  Cook over medium to medium-high heat for six minutes.  Add peppers and onions and cook, sitting occasionally for about four minutes.  Remove from heat.  Drain sun-dried tomatoes and chop.  Stir into sausage mixture into skillet.
3.  Place bread cubes in a very large bowl.  In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, milk, and chopped basil (or dried basil).  Stir sausage mixture into bread along with 1 cup of mozzarella cheese.  Pour egg mixture over bread mixture and stir to moisten all ingredients.  Coat a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.  Pour bread mixture into prepared dish.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight
4.  Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Uncover baking dish  and top with remaining Mozzarella Cheese and Parmesan Cheese.  Spray foil (the side that will touch the casserole) with baking spray.  Cover baking dish with foil.  Bake, covered, for 45 minutes.  Uncover and bake an additional 15 minutes.  Cool slightly before serving.

Notes:  Fresh basil and red peppers are very dear right now so I used 1 tablespoon of dried basil.  I know it would taste much better with fresh basil.  I  used two green peppers instead of a green and a red.  I knew I would be okay because I had the red of the sun-dried tomatoes already in the mix.