Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Sausage Crescent Rolls

Since we don't eat Thanksgiving dinner until 6:30/7pm, I wanted to create some small, snack-type foods for my DB to enjoy while I prepare the Thanksgiving meal. This was a great and easy way to start the morning- the sausage and onion are cooked, and then mixed in with some softened cream cheese. The sausage is then rolled up in the crescent rolls, similar to the "pigs in a blanket" idea. Great for an easy, portable breakfast, appetizer, snacks, parties, or a brunch item. Sinfully addicting.




Ingredients:
1-lb fresh, ground spicy pork sausage (or use regular pork sausage and add 1-2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes)
1 Tbsp butter
1 medium onion, chopped
8-oz package cream cheese
(2) 8-oz packages refrigerated crescent rolls
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the cookie sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a medium skillet, melt butter and saute onion until soft and transculent.
3. In the same skillet, lightly brown the sausage, and drain.
4. While sausage mixture is still hot, add cream cheese and stir until cheese is melted and mixture is creamy. Cool completely.
5. Separate crescent rolls and arrange into two rectangles.
6. Form log of sausage mixture lengthwise down center of each rectangle. Sprinkle half of the shredded cheese on top of the sausage mixture.
7. Fold over the long sides of pastry to cover sausage log.
8. Place on top of parchment-lined cookie sheet, seam down. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.
9. Bake 20 minutes until crust is golden.
10. When completely cooled, slice into one and one-half inch slices.




Source: Adapted from All Recipes

Step #3- For all things turkey, come inside...


There are many websites online that give you pointers, thawing times, roasting times, etc., so I decided to consolidate all my turkey information into 1 spot- my blog. Here are the answers to questions I had when researching the who/what/when/where/why's of turkeys.

How much turkey should I buy?
I like to allow 1.5-lb of turkey per person.

Fresh or frozen turkey?
The turkey will take the center stage at your Thanksgiving feast, so select the bird with care. For the most delicious results, buy a fresh turkey rather than a frozen one. Organic and free-range birds are raised on natural feed and allowed to roam, which gives the meat a better flavor. Fresh birds are also moister than frozen ones.

If you decide to buy a frozen turkey, make sure to give it ample time to thaw out. Here is my turkey schedule.

Thawing your turkey
Refrigerator Thawing- Allow 24 hours for every 4-5 pounds

Tips:
  • Keep the turkey in its original wrapper
  • Place it on a tray or in a pan to catch any juices that may leak
  • A thawed turkey can remain in the fridge for 1-2 days
Cold Water Thawing- Allow 45 minutes per pound

Tips:
  • Wrap your turkey securely, making sure the water is not able to leak through the wrapping
  • Submerge your wrapped turkey in cold tap water
  • Change the water every 30 minutes
REMINDER: Remove the giblets from the cavity after thawing.

What is "brining"?
To ensure an exceptionally moist, flavorful turkey, brine the bird before roasting. Brining enhances the taste of the turkey while keeping the meat tender and juicy during its long roasting.

A brining solution combines water with salt and often other flavourings, such as sugar, herbs, spices, and garlic. Mix the brining ingredients with hot water to dissolve the salt, then let the mixture cool completely before adding the turkey. As the turkey soaks, the salt penetrates the meat, drawing in moisture and other seasonings. (You can find many recipes online for homemade brine recipes, and many specialty stores, such as Williams-Sonoma, make excellent brines pre-packaged for you.)

To read about my first brining experience, please click HERE.

To see the (excellent) recipe I used with my brined turkey, click HERE.

How do I truss (or tie) a turkey?
A great and easy how-to video is located HERE.

How long do I roast a turkey?
Allow 12-15 minutes per pound.
Roast until the breast reaches 165 degrees F, and the thigh reaches 175 degrees F.

Unstuffed turkey
4-8# (breast only)- 1-1/2 to 3-1/4 hours
10-12# (5-6kg)- 2-1/2 to 3 hours
12-14# (6-7kg)- 2-3/4 to 3-1/4 hours
14-16# (7-8kg)- 3 to 3-3/4 hours
16-18# (8-9kg)- 3-1/4 to 4 hours
18-20# (9-10kg)- 3-1/2 to 4-1/4 hours
20+# (20kg)- 3-3/4 to 4-1/2 hours

Basting basics
Baste the turkey with pan drippings, stock, cider, or melted butter about every 30 minutes during roasting. This helps ensure moist, juicy meat and a crisp, golden-brown skin. A bulb baster is the best tool for this task. (I bought mine at Bed, Bath & Beyond for $6.)

If the turkey gets too brown too quickly in the roasting process, tent your turkey with aluminum foil.

Roasting tips
You want your breast meat to reach 165 degrees, while your thigh reads at 175 degrees, but to be out of the oven and fully cooked at the same time. For uniform roasting, try these simple techniques:

For an unstuffed turkey
Some cooks roast their turkey breast-side down for the first 1/3 of the cooking time. This increases the rate at which the thighs cook, so they will be done at about the same time as the breast.

For a stuffed turkey
Loosely cover the breast with a double-thick piece of aluminum foil for the first 2/3 of the cooking time. This slows the rate at which the breast cooks, so it will be done at about the same time as the thighs.

Testing for doneness
A simple way to determine when your turkey is properly cooked is to use a probe thermometer. (I purchased this.) The digital display is connected to a metal probe that stays in the meat while it roasts, so you can check the progress without opening the oven door and letting heat escape. Because the temperature readout is continuous, it's easy to tell when your turkey is approaching the ideal degree of doneness. Place it in the turkey at the start of the cooking cycle.

If you're using an instant-read thermometer, begin testing for doneness 30 minutes to 1 hour before the total roasting time is reached.

** If do allow your turkey to rest for 20-30 minutes, keep it covered in aluminum foil after it's removed from the oven. Allowing it to rest allows the juices to re-distribute into the meat, yield a juicy turkey, and makes it easier to carve. The bird will continue to cook as it's sitting there due to residual heat; thus, pull your turkey out when the thigh registers @ 180 degrees and the breast @ 161 degrees. Within 30 minutes, the bird's temperature will raise 5-10 additional degrees.

** Also, if you stick a fork in the meat and the juices run clear, the bird is done.

Where do I place the meat thermometer for an accurate reading?
Insert the thermometer into the thickest parts of the breast and thigh, away from the bone. Click HERE for a great video that shows you close-up where you should stick your thermometer (fast forward to 4:15 towards the end of the video).

How can I store left-overs?
Debone the turkey and refrigerate all leftovers in shallow containers within 2 hours of cooking. Use leftover turkey and stuffing within 3-4 days, gravy within 1-2 days, or you can freeze these foods. Reheat thoroughly to a temperature of 165 degrees or until hot and steaming.

Source: A compilation from Williams-Sonoma 2009 Thanksgiving catalog and USDA FSIS

Here are my quick links for Thanksgiving turkey:

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009 Menu

Due to hectic work schedules, my DB and I weren't able to make it back home for Thanksgiving this year, so we decided to make it our own. Since it was only the 2 of us, I didn't want to go overboard in making a lot of food, but wanted to include the basic Thanksgiving essentials. After agonizing over options, and scaling it down for the 2 of us without a ton of leftovers, here is our finalized 2009 menu- with some healthier alternatives mixed in. Enjoy!

Morning treats and afternoon appetizers
Sausage Crescent Rolls
Roast Beef & Red Pepper Flatbread
Deviled Eggs

Thanksgiving Dinner
Cider-Brined Herb Butter Turkey with Cider-Shallot Pan Gravy
"Skinny" Green Bean Casserole
Parmesan Smashed Potatoes
Mom's Sausage Stuffing
Crescent Rolls with Cranberry-Orange Butter
No-Sugar Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce
French Silk Pie

Note: For turkey thawing, stuffing, and cooking tips I've collaborated, please click HERE.

Mom’s Thanksgiving Stuffing

This sausage stuffing recipe has been handed down from my dad's mother, who passed it down to my mother, who passed it down to me. And quite frankly, I can't remember a Thanksgiving without this dish. It is SO freakin' good. Over the years, I have tweaked it some (using wheat bread), but the base of the stuffing remains unedited. This stuffing is a little different than most in that you don't need to make breadcrumbs, but instead uses fresh bread. It is soft, flavorful, and I know I won't be able to switch stuffing recipes since this is my favorite. (Just an fyi- this stuffing recipe is uses fresh bread, and thus the texture is VERY moist.)

Ingredients:
1 lb Bob Evans sausage roll (original)
1-1/2 loaves (36-oz) white bread, crusts removed
2 Tbsp butter
2 large or 3 medium onions, chopped
1/3 bag of celery, sliced
8-oz mushrooms, chopped (omitted)
2 eggs, beaten
Salt & Pepper
1 to 1-1/2 cups chicken stock or broth

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13x9 baking dish. (I used a 2.2-qt rectangular baking dish.)
2. In a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat, cook the sausage, breaking up the sausage roll.
3. While the sausage is cooking, cube the bread into ½” squares.

4. Once the sausage is fully cooked, remove from pan. In the same pot, melt the butter, and add the chopped onions, sliced celery, and chopped mushrooms. Cook until the vegetables are tender- 15-20 minutes. Add the cooked sausage back into the pot and mix well.

5. Remove pan from the heat.
6. Add the cubed bread, eggs, and salt & pepper to the pan.
7. Add the chicken stock/broth to make it moist.
8. Pour stuffing into the greased baking dish and bake until cooked through, golden brown, and warmed- 20-30 minutes.

Source: Adapted from my mom’s recipe

Crescent Rolls with Cranberry-Orange Butter

I wanted a way to dress-up regular crescent rolls, and decided to make my butter festive with a hint of taste. (We were so hungry by the time we ate, I forgot to take a picture of the cran-orange butter, sorry!)

Rolls
8-oz can refrigerated crescent rolls
1 egg, beaten

Cranberry-Orange Butter
1/2 cup butter, softened
2-3 Tbsp whole berry cranberry sauce
1 tsp grated orange peel (since my cranberry sauce had orange in it, I omitted this)

Directions:
For the rolls
1. Heat oven to 375°F.
2. Brush each roll lightly with beaten egg.
3. Bake crescent rolls according to package directions.

For the Cranberry-Orange butter
7. Meanwhile, in a stand mixer or hand-held mixer, beat butter until light and fluffy- approximately 3-5 minutes.
8. Gradually beat in cranberry sauce and orange peel.
9. Serve warm rolls with cranberry-orange butter.

Make ahead tip: You can make the Cranberry-Orange butter up to 2 days in advance. Allow to get to room temperature for serving.

Source: A Piggly-Wiggly original

Parmesan Smashed Potatoes

These smashed potatoes were wonderful! They were so creamy, sinfully delicious, and we loved the subtle parmesan flavor.

Ingredients:
3 lbs red new potatoes, unpeeled
1 Tbsp kosher salt, plus 1 tsp
1 cup half and half
1/4 pound unsalted unsalted butter
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Directions:
1. Place the potatoes and 1 Tbsp of salt in a 4-quart saucepan and add cold water to cover. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer covered for 15-20 minutes, until completely tender. Drain. (Cooking time will depend on the size of your cubed potatoes. I cubed mine small so it would cook quicker.)
2. In an electric mixer with paddle attachment, mix the potatoes for a few seconds to break them up. Don't overmix or the potatoes will result in a glue-y texture.
3. In a small saucepan, heat the half-and-half and butter.
4. Add them slowly to the potatoes, mixing on the lowest speed. The last quarter of the cream should be folded in by hand.
5. Fold in the sour cream, Parmesan, 1 tsp kosher salt, and pepper and serve immediately.

Source: Adapted from Ina Garten

“Skinny” Green Bean Casserole

We love green bean casserole, but I hate that the french-fried onions are ridden with fat and calories. Thus, in efforts to make this dish healthier, I used reduced-fat cream of mushroom soup, skin milk, and topped the casserole with half the recommended amount of fried onions. Still delicious and makes me feel a little less guilty eating it.

Ingredients:
10.75-oz can 98% fat-free Cream of mushroom soup
½ cup skim milk
1 tsp soy sauce
Dash of freshly ground black pepper
15-oz can French-style green beans
2/3 cup fried onions

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a baking dish, combine the soup, milk, soy sauce, and black pepper. Mix until well combined.
3. Bake for 25 minutes, or until green bean mixture is hot and bubbling.
4. Remove the dish from the oven, and give it a quick stir.
5. Sprinkle the fried onions on top, and bake for an additional 5 minutes until the onions are golden brown.

Source: (Adapted from many recipes online)

Step #4- Cider-Brined Herb-Butter Turkey with Cider-Shallot Pan Gravy

Added on Nov 2012:
Here are my quick links for Thanksgiving turkey:
This turkey was the absolute best, and it will be hard to top this recipe for next Thanksgiving. I had so much to say about both the turkey and gravy, so I divvied up my comments below:

Turkey
"OMG, this cuts like butter". That is a true testament to an excellent cooked turkey. I have made turkeys previously, but this one turned out better than I've ever done. I have to believe it was due to the brining process, and wonderful recipe (thank you, Williams-Sonoma).
The breast was incredibly moist. Upon his first bite, he exclaimed "HOLY COW, that is GOOD". The breast was so moist, tender, succulent- every wonderful adjective you want your turkey to taste like. I am a true believer of brining, and can't think of making another turkey without this step.


Gravy

My DB said it was "the best gravy he's ever had". And to be honest, I had to concur... It WAS the best gravy I've ever had. I was so pleased with the results. The pureed shallots lended a huge flavor boost, and it helped to thicken the gravy as well. This gravy brought me to my knees- you must try it!

Tip: I purchased a gravy separator- what a huge help! You just pour the gravy through the top strainer (make sure the stopper is in)- the fat rises to the top while the lean gravy juices settle to the bottom. Remove the stopper, and pour out the lean gravy juices through the spout until only the fat remains in the cup. It worked like a charm, and was mess-free.

 
For my complete Thanksgiving Turkey schedule, click here.

Herb Butter
This herb butter is infused with fresh rosemary, sage, parsley, and thyme. It is delicious, and gives your turkey wonderful flavor, which then also gives your homemade gravy (recipe below) delicious flavoring as well.
Ingredients:
  • 16 Tbsp (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 9 Tbsp chopped fresh herbs (5 Tbsp rosemary, thyme, sage and 4 Tbsp parsley)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
Directions:
  1. In a bowl (I used my KitchenAid mixer with a beater blade), beat together the butter, herbs, salt, and pepper until well blended.
  2. Divide the herbed butter into thirds- set aside 1/3 (6 Tbsp) for the gravy. The remaining 2/3 of the butter (10 Tbsp) will be used for the turkey. Refrigerate if not using right away. (Bring butter to room temperature before using.)
Make ahead tip: The herb butter can be made 2-3 days in advance. Keep refrigerated until ready for use.

Cider-Brined Herb-Butter Turkey

Ingredients:
  • Aromatics
    • 1 red apple, sliced
    • 1/2 onion, sliced
    • 1 cinnamon stick
    • 1 cup water
    • 4 sprigs rosemary
    • 6 leaves sage
  • 1 turkey, up to 20-lbs, brined (these instructions are for a 20# turkey)
  • 6 Tbsp herb butter (recipe above)
  • 1 lb shallots, peeled, halved length-wise through root end
  • 1 cup apple cider (for basting)
Directions:
  1. Let turkey stand at room temperature- An hour before roasting, remove the turkey from the fridge and let the turkey stand at room temperature for 1 hour (still in the brined liquid). If you've refrigerated the herb butter, remove from fridge and let it come to room temperature as well. (If your turkey is large, like ours, I remove the top shelf of the oven so there is enough room for the turkey.)
  2. Prep turkey for cooking
    1. Make the aromatics: Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick, and 1 cup of water in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes.
    2. When you’re ready to roast, discard the brining liquid, and preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
    3. Remove the turkey from the brine, rinse well under cold water and pat dry with paper towels. (Under-washing could lead to a very salty gravy, so don't skip this step.)
    4. Place turkey on roasting rack.
    5. Loosening the skin on top of the breast meat, spread 1/3 (6 Tbsp) of the herbed butter on both turkey breasts. Spread the other 1/3 of the herbed butter mixture evenly on the skin/outside of the turkey.

6. Add steeped aromatics to the turkey's cavity along with the rosemary and sage.

7. Scatter the peeled and sliced shallots in pan around turkey.

8. Truss the turkey as desired using kitchen twine, and place the probe thermometer. (Here is a video which will tell you where to place your meat thermometer for an accurate reading.)

9. Place the turkey, breast side up, on a rack in a large roasting pan and roast for 30 minutes. (I place the turkey into the oven legs-in first.)

10. Remove the turkey from the oven, loosely tent the turkey with foil, then reduce the oven temperature to 350ºF and continue roasting, basting every 30 minutes with the pan juices and apple cider.

11. After about 3 hours of roasting time, begin testing for doneness by inserting an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the breast and thigh, away from the bone. Pull out the turkey when the breast registers at 161°F and the thigh at 175°F.

12. Transfer the turkey to a carving board, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest for 20 to 30 minutes before carving. (The residual heat will redistribute the juices in the turkey AND continue to cook the turkey an additional 5-10 degrees.)

 VOILA!

Source: Adapted from Williams-Sonoma; Aromatics recipe: Alton Brown

Cider-Shallot Pan Gravy

Ingredients:
  • Pan-roasted shallots (from the turkey recipe, above)
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 3 cups (or more) canned low-salt chicken broth, divided (we use no-salt chicken stock from Costco)
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • Herb butter (from recipe above), approximately 6 Tbsp
Directions:

1. Using a slotted spoon, transfer shallots from roasting pan to a plate. Puree the shallots in a food processor or blender, leaving the juices in the roasting pan.

2. Pour pan juices into a medium bowl; spoon off fat and discard…. or use a gravy separator which will do that for you!

3. In the now-empty roasting pan, add wine and 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth. Set the roasting pan directly over 2 burners and bring broth mixture to boil, scraping up any browned bits. Continue to boil until reduced by half, about 3-5 minutes; pour into a large glass measuring cup.

4. Add degreased pan juices into a large 4-cup measuring cup (do not add the fat from the turkey drippings). Add enough broth (if necessary) to equal 3 cups liquid.

5. In a medium bowl, blend flour in with the herb butter.

6. Pour broth mixture back into the roasting pan and bring to boil.

7. Gradually whisk in herb butter mixture.

8. Add any accumulated juices from turkey platter. Boil until gravy thickens enough to coat spoon lightly, whisking occasionally, about 6 minutes.

9. Add pureed shallots to gravy; simmer 1 minute.

10. Season gravy with salt and pepper.

11. Serve turkey with gravy.

Gravy recipe- Adapted from Epicurious

Step #2- How to... Brine a Turkey

Soaking a turkey in a solution of salt, spices, and herbs adds a depth of flavor to your turkey and gravy, and also produces meat that is succulent, moist, and tender. I'm not sure of the scientific background of why it works- but let me tell you- IT WORKS. Keep in mind- a brine doesn't necessarily add a lot of flavor, but yields a bird that is tender and incredibly moist- so make sure to season your bird if you do decide to brine.
I had been researching all different recipes for homemade brine solutions, but ended up with this brine which I had heard and read wonderful reviews, and the ingredients are ready and packaged for you. You will need the full jar to make the brine, which can accommodate up to a 20# turkey. This brine contains: Sea salt, Dried apples, Juniper berries, Lemon peel, Star anise, Garlic, Rosemary, Thyme, Black Pepper, Onion, and Bay leaf.

Make sure to purchase this early! The weekend before Thanksgiving, our store and online were completely sold out of this item.

Here are my quick links for Thanksgiving Turkey:

According to Williams-Sonoma, here are their brining tips:
1. For best results, brine the turkey in a brining bag set inside a large pot (I am using a roaster, but a 5-gallon bucket, or a cooler would work well), so the bird will be completely surrounded by the flavorful liquid.

Refrigerator thawing: I placed my bird in a Ziploc XL bag (found at Target for $5 in the Foil/Cling wrap aisle), and then placed the bird into a cheap roaster (found a cheap 25# roaster pan at Walmart for $9). That way, the bird is surrounded by the brine, and should there be a leak, the brine would leak into the roaster and not all over my fridge.

Cold Water thawing: If your bird is too large to fit in your fridge, place your bird in its brining bag filled with brine, and then place that into a 5-gallon bucket or a large cooler and surround the bag with ice so the bird stays cool. (A 20# turkey took roughly 24 hours to thaw.)

2. Make sure your brine liquid is cool when you place the turkey in it. Never place a turkey into a warm liquid- it will start the salmonella process.

3. The bird should be thawed when it's ready to be brined, so plan accordingly. Brining may seem like a lot of effort, but with careful planning, it won't add much more effort than you'd normally would, and (as I've been told)- it will be worth it.

AND NOW ONTO THE RECIPE!....

How to make the brine

Ingredients:
  • 1 jar turkey brine— Apple & Spices (Williams-Sonoma)
  • 1 fresh or thawed turkey, up to 20-lbs
  • Brining bag (I use this)
  • 6 cups apple cider (optional, but it is what I use- I buy a gallon and use some for brining, some for basting, and the rest for drinking)
Make-Ahead Tip: Prepare the brine mixture (but do not add the turkey) up to 2 days in advance. Cover and store in the refrigerator.

Directions:
1. In a large pot over high heat, combine 1 jar turkey brine with 1 gallon (4 quarts or 16 cups) of water; bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the brine.

2. Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until well chilled. (I did this in the morning before work, and allowed it to cool while I was at work.) The brine solution needs to be cooled when you add the turkey.

3. Open the turkey.


4. Remove the neck, heart, and gizzards (located in a bag inside the turkey). You can reserve these, if desired (I personally don't)- just rinse them and store in a Ziploc bag in the fridge.

5. Rinse the entire turkey thoroughly with cold water. Don’t forget to rinse under the arms and legs!

6. Now, I like to do the brining in one of these large bags which I found at Target for $5… but you can also use a pot or large bowl; just be sure it will fit in your fridge.

7. Add the thawed turkey into the bag.

8. Pour the cooled brining solution into the bag.

9. Add 1 gallon + 2 cups ice water and 6 cups apple cider (this is what I do), or with 1-1/2 gallons ice water only.

10. Seal the brining bags tight- removing as much as air as possible from the bag.

11. Put it in the fridge- inside a cheap roster, 5-gallon bucket, or large cooler filled with ice, and let it brine for 12-36 hours, turning the turkey over once halfway through the brining time.

12. Just before roasting, remove the turkey from the brine, rinse well with cold water, and pat dry with paper towels. (Make sure you rinse well or you could have an oversalted turkey/gravy.)

"So when the recipe says..."

I've been through many bakeries where I live, and I haven't found THE ONE. I find many cakes (and especially frostings) way too sweet. So this year, I decided to take the matter into my own hands- I decided to make my own birthday cake. Within the last few weeks, I've been pouring over countless recipes, trying to decide which cake would make the cut. I finally decided between 2 desserts- German Chocolate Cake vs. French Silk Pie... and German Chocolate Cake won. With its coconut-pecan topping, chocolate ganache glaze and frosting, and moist, tender chocolate cake layers- how could this not be a good choice? I also wanted to refresh my Wilton Cake Decorating skills so this cake recipe was the chosen one (at least for this birthday year).



When I told my DB that I was planning to make my own birthday cake (at this point, he had no idea I had already picked the cake), he said that I shouldn't be making my own and he offered to make it for me. At this point, my mind started racing- the cake wasn't difficult, but it included more ingredients and way more steps than the French Silk Pie- should I just give him the Pie recipe, or stick to what I wanted, which was the Cake? He said he wanted to make what I wanted, so I (hesitantly) handed him over the Cake recipe. That evening, he asked me if I could email him the recipe file- I was thinking, kind of odd since he already had a paper copy, but I complied. A few minutes later, he asked me- "So, when the recipe says... 4 large eggs, separated, does that mean you need to separate the yolks from the whites?" I just about died laughing, though looking back, I know that could be an honest question from someone who doesn't bake.

To round out the story- the reason why he asked me to email the recipe to him was because any words/terminology he didn't understand, he was Googling them so he could. Adorable, and what an effort! He did ask me if I had a back-up recipe (French Silk Pie), but I assured him that he (and the cake) would turn out fine.


7 hours later (yes, you read that right- he worked on this from 7pm-2am with no breaks AND took pictures for the blog).... He had baked, frosted, and the final product was complete! I have to admit- This cake was the absolute best. Not only because he lovingly worked on it for so long, but truly- this is the best German Chocolate cake I've ever had. Hands down. My DB, who doesn't even like coconut, loved it. He did a wonderful job, and albeit he was tired, he still decorated it using his Wilton Cake Decorating skills and piping bags/tips.

Continue to read below as he documents his steps (I didn't include all the pictures- just the "highlights") and the tips he learned from making this cake:

I don't like to be rushed when cooking/baking, so I pre-set all the ingredients the morning of:

Here I am mid-stream:

Here is my recipe- splattered and greased from baking (this is only page #1 of 2 very full pages of ingredients and instructions):

This is only 1 set (of 3 sets of dishes I did to make the cake):

My completed masterpiece!


Some tips I would like to share with you in making this recipe:
1. Rum syrup- There was A LOT leftover. I recommend halving the recipe (halved recipe below).
2. Chocolate icing- The icing had a "pourable" consistency. I recommend making the icing FIRST so it has ample time to set and harden in the fridge while the cake is being made, baked, and cooled down.
3. YouTube will be your best cooking tool- "The coconut and pecans need to be toasted? Huh? What?"- I learned how to do both of these via videos. Yes, Youtube. FYI- Coconut burns easily so keep a close eye on it, and take the pecans out when they turn fragrant.
4. 1 cup pecans does NOT equal 1 cup chopped pecans.
5. If you've baked before, it won't take you 7+ hours to complete.



For the cake
2-oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chopped (Used semi-sweet chocolate)
2-oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
6 Tbsp water
8-oz(2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1-¼ cup + ¼ cup sugar
4 large eggs, separated
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the filling
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup sugar
3 large egg yolks
3-oz (6 Tbsp) butter, cut into small pieces
½ tsp salt
1 cup pecans, toasted and finely chopped
1-1/3 cups unsweetened coconut, toasted (Used sweetened, shredded coconut)

For the syrup
1 cup water
¾ cup sugar
2 Tbsp dark rum

For the chocolate icing
8-oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped (Used bittersweet chocolate)
2 Tbsp light corn syrup
1-½ oz (3 Tbsp) unsalted butter
1 cup heavy cream

Directions:
To make the cake
1. Butter (2) 9-inch cake pans, then line the bottoms with rounds of parchment or wax paper.
2. Preheat the oven to 350°.
3. Melt both chocolates together with the 6 Tbsp of water. Use either a double-boiler or a microwave. Stir until smooth, then set aside until room temperature.
4. In the bowl of an electric mixer, or by hand, beat the butter and 1-¼ cup of the sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
5. Beat in the melted chocolate, then the egg yolks, one at a time.
6. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
7. Mix in half of the dry ingredients into the creamed butter mixture, then the buttermilk and the vanilla extract, then the rest of the dry ingredients.

8. In a separate metal or glass bowl, beat the egg whites until they hold soft, droopy peaks. Beat in the ¼ cup of sugar until stiff.
9. Fold about one-third of the egg whites into the cake batter to lighten it, then fold in the remaining egg whites just until there's no trace of egg white visible.

10. Divide the batter into the 2 prepared cake pans, smooth the tops, and bake for about 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

11. Cool cake layers completely.

12. While the cakes are baking and cooling, make the filling, syrup, and icing. (NOTE: I would DEFINITELY make the icing first, so you can refrigerate it to harden a little.)

To make the filling
1. Mix the cream, sugar, and egg yolks in a medium saucepan.

2. Put the 3 ounces butter, salt, toasted coconut, and pecan pieces in a large bowl.
3. Heat the cream mixture and cook, stirring constantly (scraping the bottom as you stir) until the mixture begins to thicken and coats the spoon (an instant-read thermometer will read 170°.)

4. Pour the hot custard immediately into the pecan-coconut mixture and stir until the butter is melted.

5. Cool completely to room temperature. (It will thicken.)

To make the syrup
1. In a small saucepan, heat the sugar and water until the sugar has melted.
2. Remove from heat and stir in the dark rum.


To make the icing
1. Place the 8-oz of chopped chocolate in a bowl with the corn syrup and 1-½ oz of butter.
2. Heat the cream until it just begins to boil.
3. Remove from heat and pour over the chocolate. Let stand one minute, then stir until smooth.
4. Let sit until room temperature.


To assemble the cake
1. Remove the cake layers from the pans and cut both cake layers in half horizontally, using a serrated bread knife.

2. Set the first cake layer on a cake plate. Brush well with syrup.

3. Spread ¾ cup of the coconut filling over the cake layer, making sure to reach to the edges. Set another cake layer on top.

4. Repeat, using the syrup to brush each cake layer, then spreading ¾ cup of the coconut filling over each layer, including the top.

5. Ice the sides with the chocolate icing, then pipe a decorative border of chocolate icing around the top, encircling the coconut topping.


Source: David Lebovitz, as seen on Annie's Eats
 
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