Ganache Darn It!

Ganache Darn It!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Nutella Crunch Bars

Today is October 22nd and what I consider the first “cold” day in Minnesota. Everyone was freaking out about snow yesterday but I didn’t see it and it didn’t stay on the ground so I say it doesn’t count. All-Star season for roller derby is over and it’s going to be winter soon. All I want to do is stay home and snuggle with Chad and bake all the things!  So, I have sort of been baking all the things. I often forget about the blog and the fact that I should be posting this stuff here. Most people know that patience isn’t my strong suit and sometimes I can’t be bothered to take a photo of some partially finished dough or the milk in the double-boiler ready for six ounces of chocolate chips to take a dive into.

In the past week and a half, I’ve baked pumpkin cream cheese bread, pumpkin cupcakes with cinnamon cream cheese, jalapeno cornbread, and these chocolate hazelnut crunch bars. It is one of my teammate’s birthdays and I’m bringing them to share. I pawn off roughly 70% of what I bake and we eat the rest. These are so rich and wonderful and perfect for the chocolate and Nutella freak in your life. I was inspired to make them after having Forepaugh’s (haunted and yet classy St. Paul institution) made this candy bar-like dessert that I wanted to replicate. When I found this recipe, I was in!  Left photo is my dessert from Forepaugh's and right is I think I'd add a layer of whipped ganache to the recipe to make them even closer to the dish I had in the restaurant.

This recipe comes from and contains one ingredient you certainly won’t have in your kitchen. It calls for 2 cups of pailleté feuilletine which I had to immediately Google. After a bit of digging around I found out that I could replace it with crunched up wafer sticks or if you want to use the Pepperidge Farm term, “Pirouettes.” Normally I would buy these at the Vietnamese grocery store since they have them in bigger volumes at a lower price, but this was a last minute project and the hazelnut version of the Pepperidge Farm ones were going to have to do.

Chocolate Hazelnut Crunch Bars by
*with a few alterations by me*

Makes one 9x13 tray, bars cut as big or small as you like. I went small since these are RICH.
For the crust:
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted
10 ounces (about 1 cup) chocolate-hazelnut spread, such as Nutella
5 ounces (about 2 cups) pailleté feuilletine (again, I used the Pirouette cookies)

For the filling:
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
8 ounces (1 cup) heavy cream
2 ounces (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

For the crust, line a 9 x 13 inch pan with parchment paper, allowing the parchment to hang over the long sides of the pan to act as handles. This is a necessary step as I’m pretty sure that the whole thing would stick to the dish like crazy if you skipped it.

In a large bowl, combine the melted chocolate (I used a shortcut in this and microwaved the chocolate in a glass bowl for 30-second intervals) and chocolate-hazelnut spread and stir until smooth. Fold in the feuilletine/crushed cookies until combined. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan. Use a sheet of wax paper (or a nonstick Silpat mat) to press the mixture into a smooth, even layer. Transfer to the refrigerator to chill while making the filling. I popped mine in the freezer for a minute to speed this along.

For the ganache, I completely ignored their method as I think the one I’ve got down is best. Over a
double-boiler, heat your cream until it is just barely bubbling. Dump your chocolate in and stare impatiently for about a minute. Whisk the cream and chocolate slowly and drop your bits of butter in, continuing to whisk. You’ll now have a beautiful and velvety ganache to pour over your Nutella cookie crust, smoothing with a spatula.

Transfer to the refrigerator until set and firm, about 1 - 2 hours should do but I left mine overnight. Slice into bars before serving and then sprinkle with chopped hazelnuts if you wish. Next time, I may just mix the hazelnuts right into the ganache for extra crunch. Keep stored in the refrigerator and serve chilled. These are sitting in my car right now on this first cold (36 degree) day waiting for hungry roller girls to devour. Hope they like them! 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Food Vines and a Manicotti

Here are two food Vines for your enjoyment. I know not everyone is impressed by the wonderment that is Vine, but I sort of love it. I can watch a seven second video on a loop for a ridiculous amount of time. While much of it is full of cats, I'm going to try and fill it with more food. Seven seconds of dripping chocolate would be hypnotizing.

How much do you want that bubbly manicotti? The recipe is a mash-up of two recipes and my own additions. The bulk of it comes from Health Magazine (don't be mad) with cooking time in the oven hurried up by Giada De Laurentiis. I have a family that cooks some amazing Italian meals, please don't tell them (especially my grandma) that I used cottage cheese and kale in this, everyone would be ashamed of me. But this manicotti has only mild levels of guilt and plenty of deliciousness.

2 cups (8 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided (I skipped this to be healthier and used more cottage cheese) 
1 (16-ounce) carton fat-free cottage cheese (I used 24 ounces)  
Huge bunch of kale, they used spinach, but I like kale much better 
1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese  
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano (I used Penzey's Tuscan Sunset) 
1/4 teaspoon salt  
1/4 teaspoon black pepper 
1 (8-ounce) package manicotti (14 shells)  
1 (26-ounce) jar fat-free tomato-basil pasta sauce 
Cooking spray  
1 cup water

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Combine cottage cheese, and the next 5 ingredients (through black pepper) in a medium bowl. Spoon about 3 tablespoons cheese mixture into each uncooked manicotti. I tried to use a piping bag to do this and it was a bit of a mess, but totally worth a try! 

Pour half of tomato-basil pasta sauce into a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Arrange your stuffed shells in a single layer over sauce, and top with the remaining sauce. Pour 1 cup water into dish. I had some of my favorite Trader Joe’s Toscano cheese in the refrigerator, so I put a nice blanket of that over the top. Cover tightly with foil. Bake until heated through and the sauce bubbles, about 20 minutes. Uncover and bake until the cheese on top becomes golden, about 15 minutes longer. Let stand for 10 minutes. Hurry up and get your phone so you can Vine the bubbles before they’re gone!

Now, I know we're nerdy, but here's a bonus one of my husband making pickles after a visit to the St. Paul Farmers Market last Saturday (don't mind the large vinegar splash).

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Happy 101st Birthday, Julia Child!

Today would be your 101st birthday, Miss Child! I think I've always admired you so much because I like to think we're a little bit alike. I imagine your husband laughed at you often as you spilled all over, filled a kitchen with smoke, or smiled as you admired your work, just like mine does. You were perfect in your imperfections and my heart fills with joy when I can watch you cook. PBS made this video last year for your 100th birthday, but I wanted to be sure to share it. Life is beautiful for those with homes filled with love, food, laughter, and friends (not necessarily in that order). I'll be sure to toast with a big glass of red wine in your honor.

"A party without cake is just a meeting."

“I think every woman should have a blowtorch.”

 - Julia Child 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Caramel sauce to put on....anything!

It was a co-worker's birthday and the office decided we'd do an ice cream social to celebrate. It suddenly dawned on me that I have NEVER created a caramel sauce from scratch. I know everyone is obsessed with salted caramel anything right now, but sometimes I feel as though someone dropped the salt shaker into my dessert. So I went for a classic sauce by the very classic Ina Garten. While the internet is full of absolutely terrible recipes that are full of FAIL, Ina will never fail you. This recipe is simple and delicious and while it was great on ice cream, I'm thinking about using it in between layers of banana birthday cake, now we're talkin'!


1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup water
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


Mix the water and sugar in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cook over low heat for 5 to 10 minutes, until the sugar dissolves. Ina's directions say not to stir, so don't stir. Not stirring is very difficult, but just do what she says! Increase the heat to medium and boil uncovered until the sugar turns a warm chestnut brown (about 350 degrees F on a candy thermometer), about 5 to 7 minutes (this part took me more like 9 minutes, it may have to do with my stove), gently swirling the pan to stir the mixture (SWIRL, don't STIR). Don't get this on your skin, it will peel it right of! Watch the mixture very carefully at the end, as it will go from caramel to burnt and bitter very quickly. Turn off the heat and stand back to avoid splattering and slowly add the cream and vanilla. The cream will bubble violently and the caramel will form, be ready to stir at this point.

Simmer over low heat, stirring constantly, until the caramel dissolves and the sauce is smooth, about 2 minutes. Allow to cool to room temperature, at least 4 hours. It will thicken as it sits.

After some internet searching, I found that people recommended this be kept in the refrigerator for up to three weeks. I also rewarmed it in about 15 second intervals in the microwave in a mason jar. I'll let you know how it goes with the banana cake in a few weeks!

This is another great and basic recipe to keep on hand, you know...for when you absolutely NEED caramel sauce.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

A Smash Cake for Addycakes

As is tradition, my niece needed a cake to smash and dig into for her first birthday. I tried my hand at an ombré petal cake. I used the old go to recipe of the Smitten Kitchen's yellow cake, a classic vanilla butter cream, Wilton's pink coloring, and glanced at a few tutorials for the petal method (there are some long and really annoying ones out there, but this is a nice and abbreviated version). I have sinned and forgot to capture the inside ombréness with my camera, but just imagine layers of escalating pink colors. Addy tore it apart like a pro, I wish she would turn one every weekend.

Monday, October 22, 2012


Hello Friends,
I am months and months behind on the blog. How about I just post a short summary of a few of the things I've made and we'll go from there? I hope you don't mind, here are just a few things to please your eye.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Meatloaf Cupcakes - Not Just for Lovers

I’ve been meaning to make meatloaf cupcakes for a while, but hadn’t had the right occasion. Yesterday was Valentine’s Day and I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate than with these deliciously meaty treats for my lover. After looking at many recipes, I did what I often do and combined two recipes to make one that I REALLY liked. My fiancé informed me that this is not necessarily for the beginner cook, but please don’t be afraid to try. They took about an hour to make, and were 100% worth it. We almost couldn’t get over how good they were. I have a feeling that these will be requested often! This recipe makes 12 meatloaf cupcakes.

I used recipes from Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy and From Dahlias to Doxies while adding some of my own touches to come up with what were truly delicious meatloaf cupcakes.

Ingredients for the meatloaf:
Almost 1 lb ground beef
Almost 1 lb ground pork
1 small onion (small dice)
1 large tablespoon chopped garlic
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Handful (a few large tablespoons) of fresh parsley – I prefer Italian flat leaf
3 tablespoons roasted red pepper from a jar (I had these sitting in the fridge and wanted to use them up, they’re not necessary to make this work)
3 tablespoons ketchup
1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon Worcestershire
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 eggs
Sprinkle of salt and pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil (for sautéing veggies)

For the drizzle:
3 tablespoons of Famous Dave’s Rich and Sassy (use whatever you have)
1 teaspoon Sriracha

The potatoes:
3 cups potatoes, chopped into medium chunks
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup half and half or heavy cream
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons melted butter

Preheat your oven to 350 F.
Sauté the chopped onions and garlic over medium-low heat with a splash of olive oil until soft, set aside to cool a bit. Prepare the meatloaf by combining all ingredients together in a large bowl. Remove all valuable jewelry and get in there with your hands, mixing until incorporated. Don’t forget your onions and don’t fuss with the mixture too much, because you can turn it into meat bricks. Spray or lightly grease a twelve serving cupcake pan. Spoon the mixture into your cupcake pan, pressing ever so lightly into your desired shapes.
Prepare the sauce by whisking the Sriracha and BBQ sauce. Drizzle over the raw meat and pop in the oven. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

While the meat is baking, boil the potatoes (about 15 minutes). I put the cream, salt, egg yolk, and butter into the mixer so it was ready to be married with the cooked potatoes. Drain potatoes, whip all of this together and wait for your meat to be ready. Fit a pastry bag with a large star tip (I was out of pastry bags and used a large Ziploc) and when the potatoes are no longer at a bag-melting temperature, fill and set aside (do not refrigerate).

Remove your meatcakes from the oven and turn on the broiler. Using a fork I removed the meatcakes from the pan and placed on a cooling rack, just like real cupcakes! Pipe some potato “icing” on top of each cupcake. I used cracked black pepper and some bacon bits that were sitting in the fridge as sprinkles, it’s just a fun little extra that again, isn’t required to make these awesome. You can leave the cupcakes on the cooling rack, or move to a cookie sheet and broil for a few minutes until the potatoes are lightly browned, about 2 minutes.

Remove from the oven and see if you can stop yourself from eating any less than three! Happy Valentine’s Day!

Lisa and her meat cupcakes