Sunday, January 27, 2013

Chocolate Trifle

Last month I was asked to make one of my favorite desserts for a friend's birthday party, so I attempted to really focus on taking lots of pictures of the whole process of making this amazing trifle.  This recipe can be as easy or as difficult as you want it to be.  I'll share with you the 'cheat method' and the 'from scratch' method!  Both are delicious!

Chocolate Trifle (adapted from Paula Deen's Chocolate Toffee Trifle)

1 box chocolate cake mix or one batch Mocha Chocolate Cake
1/2 cup dulce de leche, heated (or, mix 1/4 cup carmel topping with 1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk)
2 cups fudge sauce (jarred or recipe follows), warmed
2 cups heavy cream whipped and sweetened with 1/2 cup powdered sugar and 1 tsp. vanilla (you can substitute this with store bought cool whip, but there's nothing better than homemade whipped cream and it really is easy to make)
1/2 - 1 cup mini chocolate chips

Prepare the cake according to package instructions or follow the link to the recipe for Mocha Chocolate Cake for a 9 x 12-inch pan.  Allow the cake to rest for 5 minutes.  While cake is resting, heat the dulce de leche mixture on the stove or in the microwave.  You want the mixture to be smooth and runny, so it usually take about 5 minutes on the stove.

Now, using a fork or straw, poke holes throughout the cake, but be careful not to puncture all the way to the bottom of the pan.  After poking your holes, pour the dulce de leche mixture evenly all over the cake and watch it get absorbed by the chocolate!  Allow the cake to cool completely on the counter and then cover with saran wrap and cool in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.

Cake after the dulce de leche has cooled on the top.  You can barely see the holes in the cake.
Next, remove the cake from the refrigerator and slice it into 1 inch thick pieces (I think mine are bigger than this, then I cut them smaller at the end).  Remember, this is a dump cake, you can't mess it up and it always makes a great impression!  You will need a trifle bowl or large bowl to assemble this cake.  Now you have all of your ingredients: cooled cake cut into small pieces, heated fudge sauce and whipped cream.  The layers begin as follows: cake pieces to fill in bottom layer, 1/4 of fudge sauce, 1/3 of the whipped cream.  Continue that pattern until you run out of items or you reach the top of the trifle bowl.  Sprinkle chocolate chips on top for a beautiful presentation.  Sometimes I have leftovers so I make a mini one in a regular bowl for me and my helpers to share. . .  ;)

These are all of the ingredients ready to be assembled. 

This is the homemade whipped cream.  It's so easy to make!  Seriously.  
Hot Fudge Sauce (this stuff is crazy addictive)

1 4-oz bar bittersweet chocolate (I use any dark chocolate for this)
1/2 oz unsweetened chocolate (baking bars)
8 tbls butter (1 stick)
3 cups powdered sugar
1 2/3 cup evaporated milk (basically one small can)
1 1/4 tsp vanilla

Melt the chocolate and the butter over low heat in a medium saucepan.  Turn the heat up to medium once melted.  Stir in the powdered sugar, alternating with the evaporated milk and mixing well after each addition.  Stirring constantly, bring the mixture to a simmer.  Continue cooking for 8 minutes while simmering, then remove from heat and add vanilla.  

Note: This fudge sauce is a labor or love.  It takes a long time for me to make it and I usually bump up the temperature just to a 6 on my stove just to get things moving.  So, if you're new to baking, I might just buy the fudge sauce from the store.  I promise it will still be 'to die for.'  

You see how it sticks to the spoon when the fudge sauce is done?  That's the consistency you want. It also thickens a bit upon cooling.
Yield: 10-12 servings

Week 72: Sleepovers. . .

As a parent, I must admit that I have a love/hate relationship with sleepovers.  I love them in the beginning when the kids are happily eating, playing and watching movies together.  However, the next afternoon is always challenging as they get older.  My 6-year-old, Emilie, still feels like it's SO late when she goes to bed at 9:30pm-10pm.  I enjoy sleepovers at her age.  Now, my 9-year-old stays up really late now and it makes the next day torture.  Girls are so sensitive, so she cries at the smallest annoyance or inconvenience and she's just so overtired that she can't seem to take a nap.  So, today is a sleepy day and basically a family snuggle day in order to recover from their sleepovers last night.  Praying for a very early bedtime for everyone tonight!

Here's Emilie and my sweet little niece, Josephine!  
I've been having some issues at the gym over the last week or so with dizziness and nausa, so I finally went to the doctor last week to discover the crazy stuff going on with me is the result of a double ear infection and sinus infection.  I don't think I've had an ear infection since elementary school, so I'm amazed at how much it really has messed with my equilibrium.  Bending down to get the laundry or put dishes away makes my head throb and it feels like the world is spinning.  So, I'm on antibiotics and taking a respite from the gym until I feel better doing daily chores.  The timing sucks because we were supposed to start our CrossFit challenge last week, but I couldn't complete the 'starting' workout, so I won't be able to participate in the challenge.  Maybe next year?

So, back to meal planning. . . How's the going for all of you?  It's been a struggle in my house and so has baking since we are limiting our sugar intake.  Poor me, right?

Here's the weekly menu:

Week 72 Menu

Tuesday - Leftovers
Wednesday - Roasted salmon with normandy vegetables
Thursday - Chicken with 40 cloves of garlic, roasted veggies
Friday - Grilled chicken legs, roasted sweet potatoes, broccoli
Saturday - Out to dinner

Well, have a great week everyone!


Sunday, January 13, 2013

Week 71: Back to Meal Planning

Well, it's been quite awhile since I was able to post a meal plan, but I'm hoping that I'll get my stuff together now for the rest of the year.  It's so hard to get back into the swing of things after having everyone at home for a few weeks.  My hubby took off from 12/14 through the New Year and the kids only went back to school last Tuesday.   So, I am beginning to feel like we have a routine in our house again!  ;)
These are Paleo Chocolate Chip cookies made with almond flour!  Delicious!
I'm not much for New Year's Resolutions.  I sort of gave them up a long time ago, but I do set goals that seem more realistic to my mind.  One of my goals for this year is to curb our diet a lot more towards Paleo meals.  For those of you unfamiliar with this diet, it's a focus on lean meats, veggies and fruits.  No processed foods and also no dairy, grain, legumes).  I am doing well for dinner, but I need to make it work all day long.  We have a challenge starting at the end of January with our CrossFit gym, so we'll be eating carefully and exercising a lot during that 6-week time period.  The prizes are really awesome, so we're going to give it our best shot!

Veering away from my goals, we have a 'Go-Dairy' weekend coming up and the kids are so excited!  Alain is going out of town on a snowboarding trip with his buddies, so in an effort to make his absence 'not so sad' I told the kids we could have food that we can't eat with Daddy around (ie. wheat and dairy).  So, this is not fitting in very well with my Paleo diet, but I'll be making bread and making meals with cheese and sour cream!  Might seem lame for some of you, but this is an exciting adventure in my house!

Week 71 Menu

Sunday - Grilled chicken thighs, roasted cauliflower and carrots
Monday - Seared steak with collard greens, mushrooms and green beans
Tuesday - Leftovers
Wednesday - Roasted salmon with normandy vegetables
Thursday - Chicken enchiladas with green salsa
Friday - Beef stroganoff (special treat for our Dairy weekend)
Saturday - Out to dinner

Enjoy your week, everyone!