Fancy Little Pound Cake

Yet another new recipe for me, this pound cake turned out pretty darn yummy! I’ve never made a pound cake before, but I was recently looking for a recipe that wasn’t too complicated and didn’t require any special ingredients as I didn’t have a lot of time to mess with fancy. However, using my new mini bundt cake mold, I whipped up this pound cake and baked it into a pretty little cake topped with powdered sugar glaze and berries. It was so scruptious!

fancy little pound cake

fancy little pound cake

If you’re going for a low cal, or low fat treat, move on, this isn’t it. It’s a smaller, lighter version of the original 1 pound of butter cake, but it’s by no means the perfect treat for dieters counting calories. Let’s move on to the creation of yum…

Fancy Little Pound Cake recipe:

  • 1 cup butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • Powder sugar icing

In a mixing bowl, stir together flour and baking powder. Soften butter. In another bowl, beat butter with electric mixer for 30 seconds at medium speed. Gradually add super (2 teaspoons as a time) to butter and beat at medium speed for about 6 minutes or until light and fluffy. Add vanilla. Add eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute each. Scrape bowl often. Gently add in flour mixture, beating on low until just combined.

Grease and flour baking pan/s. Pour batter into pan and bake at 325 for 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes, remove from pan and cool for another 20 minutes. Drizzle prepared glaze and top with fresh berries.

Baking pan/s – recipe good for 1 9x5x3 inch loaf pan, or two small bundt pans and 3 3x5x2 inch load pans.

Powdered sugar icing

  • 1 cup sifted powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons milk

Mix powdered sugar, vanilla and 1 teaspoon milk. Stir in additional milk until drizzling consistency.

Easy Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream

Homemade ice cream is always the yummiest, so say my kids. So for my daughter’s 4th birthday party I made her homemade strawberry ice cream. It was super easy to make and oh so yummy! I started with a simple vanilla ice cream recipe and just adapted it by adding fresh strawberries and a little strawberry syrup. I used store bought syrup because I was short on time, but if you have the time, you can make your own syrup, see below.

easy homemade strawberry ice cream

Ingredients you’ll need for homemade strawberry ice cream:

  • 2 cups half and half
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh strawberries
  • 1/4 cup strawberry syrup
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

How to make easy homemade strawberry ice cream:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, dissolve sugar in half and half.
  2. Thoroughly mix in remaining ingredients except strawberries.
  3. Stir in strawberries.
  4. Following your ice cream maker’s instruction, add mixture to complete the process.

Alternatively replace the sugar, syrup and strawberries above by making your own strawberry syrup: Combine 1 cup chopped strawberries with 1/2 cup sugar and let soak overnight. Finely chop in a food processor. Then mix into ice cream mixture.

 

Best chocolate pudding recipe

The kids and I were craving sweets but at 9:30pm, we were out of ice cream and I wasn’t about to pile everyone in the car. So I set out to try my hand at making home made chocolate pudding. This recipe is quick and easy and full of chocolaty goodness! Total preparation time is approximately 1 hour (30 to cook and 30 to set).

chocolate pudding

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions:

Combine sugar, cornstarch and salt in a medium saucepan. Stir in milk and chocolate chips. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until chocolate is melted. Temper the egg yolks and then stir into mixture. Add butter and vanilla. Bring to gentle boil and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Chill before serving.

Tempering the egg yolks:

If you were to place the egg yolks directly into your hot mixture, you could end up with cooked egg chunks in your pudding… not so tasty. So to avoid this, you “temper” the eggs. To do this, you slowly add small quantities of your hot mixture to your eggs in a separate mixing bowl, stirring constantly. Continue until you’ve added at least 1 full cup of hot mixture to the eggs. Then you can pour this egg mixture into your pudding and stir thoroughly.

Note about setting:

Originally my pudding didn’t set. The recipe I had started with said to cook the entire time on medium heat which ment the cornstarch never had the opportunity to do it’s thing. After an hour in the fridge, I poured all the pudding back into a pan and heated it up again until it came to a boil and voila! just like magic it began to thicken. As an added bonus to the delayed setting… we had pudding for breakfast!

making chocolate pudding

This recipe was adapted from the Chocolate Cream Pudding recipe by Mimi

Decadent Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

So Valentine’s Day has come and gone, but this is a quick and easy dessert that is certain to get you out of any post-Valentine’s Day doghouse. That’s right, I’m talking chocolate dipped strawberries.

Now the purist in me has to point out that these are not actually -chocolate- dipped strawberries and a majority of what you can get in chocolate shops and online at various retailers are NOT CHOCOLATE EITHER. That is correct…these are made using confectionery chocolate or compound chocolate which contains partially hydrogenated oils. According to the FDA rules on such matters, any chocolate substance that contains these sorts of oils CANNOT be called “chocolate”. This also means that “white chocolate” is not considered chocolate at all. For the purpose of this demonstration though, I’ll just call it chocolate since that’s just simpler.

(Quick aside: it is not legal for products that are not chocolate to be marketed as such…next time you go to the store, check out how many chocolate products call themselves “chocolatey” or “cocoa flavored”.)

Supplies for Making Chocolate Dipped StrawberriesMaking chocolate dipped strawberries yourself is really very simple and inexpensive. Here’s a list of what you need: strawberries, chocolate (dark, milk, white, or a combination), double boiler (I use a metal bowl and a pot), spatula, parchment paper, cookie sheet.

When you choose your strawberries, make sure that they are fresh and not bruised. Strawberries stop ripening the moment they are picked, so if they are picked unripe, they’re not going to get any better. Be sure to avoid ones that have a lot of white around the shoulders of the berry since these are not going to be as sweet. Avoid berries that are REALLY big. Sure, they look cool, but these usually have a big hollow in the center since they have been growing too long and tend to go bad spectacularly fast. Look for strawberries that are all approximately the same size and if you can get them, try to get long stem berries. These are the cream of the crop so to speak, but they will cost you a little more. Also, whether you are buying from the store or from a roadside stand, check the bottom of the basket or clamshell…it’s an old trick to fill the bottom with smaller, inferior berries and a pretty layer of nice berries on the top.

Cleaning StrawberriesBefore you get started, clean your strawberries. NO!! Do NOT run them under water or rinse them in the sink!. First off, strawberries and water get along about as well as chocolate and water. They don’t. Any water left on your berries after washing will do two things; it will make your berry rot faster and it will make the chocolate seize and give it a crumbly, grainy texture. Decidedly not sexy. Instead, lightly wet a paper towel or a clean dish rag and gently wipe the berries. As you do this, check for any discolored spots, holes, and stuck flower petals. Discard any bad berries and remove all the debris.

Melting Chocolate for Chocolate Dipped StrawberriesIn terms of your chocolate choice, if you wish you can use couverture chocolate, but be forewarned. It can be difficult to work with since some kinds will need to be tempered and frankly, that can wreak all sorts of havoc if you haven’t had any experience with it previously. If I’m making these, I prefer to use confectionery chocolate since it’s simpler, tends to not bloom (those odd streaks and swirls that happen sometimes), is less expensive and easier to obtain and unless you have a chocolate snob around, no one can tell anyway. Does this mean you should use the cheapest confectionery chocolate you can find? No. It will be gross and taste grainy. Believe me. Aim for something actually designed for candy making like Wilton or Guittard. Skip the stuff you find on the top shelf at the grocery store. You’ll thank me later.

Melted Chocolate for Chocolate Dipped StrawberriesNow if you don’t have a double boiler (I don’t) or if you have no idea what one is, here’s how you set one up. Essentially, a double boiler is two pots that nest inside each other. You place the bottom one containing water on the stove burner and place the other on top containing whatever it is you wish to melt. Turn the burner up to boil the water in the bottom pot. This keeps you from burning whatever is in the top pot. I don’t have one, so instead of the top pot, I use a metal mixing bowl. It works just as fine. Two things to note, since this involves steam, it is easy to get burned if you aren’t paying attention and make sure you check the water level from time to time since it does evaporate from the boiling.

Once your chocolate is nice and smoothly melted, take the strawberry by the calyx (the leafy stuff) and dip it in the chocolate. You can coat the whole berry or leave some of the red showing, totally your choice. Give the berry a little shake and run the bottom gently against the side of the bowl to wipe off excess chocolate and place on the parchment lined cookie sheet. If you are going to add any sort of toppings that need to stick (nuts, coconut, sprinkles, mini-chocolate chips, candies etc) now is the time to do it. If you wait until later, the chocolate will have set up and the toppings won’t adhere. If you are planning to drizzle another chocolate over the top, make sure your berries are in a relatively straight row. It will make it easier later. Once you are all done dipping and decorating your berries, you can leave them at room temperature to set up or you can place them in the fridge to help them along a little. Don’t place them in the freezer though as the chocolate will contract and crack.

These will keep well for about 48 hours, so you can make them ahead of time for a party or dinner without having to worry.

Enjoy!!
~Karen

Brock’s Ice Cream Palace

Brocks Ice CreamOne of the best kept little secrets we have here in Yuba City is Brock’s Ice Cream Palace. The little white and red building that holds the delicious creaminess that is Brock’s is located on Gray Avenue behind the Wells Fargo.

No one I spoke to seemed to know exactly when they opened, just that they’d always been there. The parking lot is a little wonky (you have to park behind the building) and the interior has faded from it’s heyday (the tables sag a bit with overuse and the red velvet wallpaper is peeling in spots and held down with scotch tape) but hey, let’s face it. You didn’t come here for the wallpaper, you came for the the silky smooth ice cream.

Brock's Ice Cream Yuba City

Brock’s makes their rich ice cream on the premises in a myriad of delicious flavors ranging from the regular favorites of mint chip, chocolate and vanilla to the more exotic like pistachio and toasted almond. You have a variety of cones to choose from ranging from the classic cake to waffle and a “single” is actually two large scoops of ice cream. Brock’s is inexpensive and a fantastic way to beat the heat on any day of the week. Their ice cream is also available in pre-packed containers to take home if you want it for that midnight snack.

Brock’s Ice Cream Palace is located at 990 Gray Avenue in Yuba City, California.