Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Homemade Almond Roca

This was posted by someone on the Cooking Light bulletin boards. My mom and I decided to make it for my dad, since we couldn't find almond roca in the store. Other than having to measure temperature, it's really simple. It's really, really good. My dad liked it, which says a lot.

Anna's Almond Roca

2 Cups Sugar
1 Pound (4 sticks) Butter
1 Cup Water
1/2 tsp. Salt
3 Cups Almonds -- the "shaved" kind, not slivers or whole
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1 pound bar of Cadbury Milk Chocolate -- broken up

Reserve 1 cup of the almonds and set aside. Mix sugar, butter, water, and salt in large, heavy saucepan and heat to boiling over medium to medium high heat. Make sure there's room in the saucepan for the mixture to foam up and boil. Heat mixture over medium to medium high until it foams and reaches 240 degrees on a candy thermometer. When temp reaches 240, stir in 2 cups of almonds. Stir mixture constantly and watch temp carefully until temp reaches 290. Remove from heat, stir in soda and QUICKLY pour onto a cookie sheet covered with buttered or greased wax paper. Mixture should start to harden immediately. As mixture hardens, sprinkle chocolate chunks over hardening mixture and spread the chocolate chunks around until they melt. Sprinkly melted chocolate with reserved almonds. Let sit until toffee hardens and chocolate sets.

NOTE: For this recipe to turn out perfect, you have to watch temperatures CAREFULLY. Don't let the almonds burn (so use medium to medium high heat) and don't remove the mixture from the stove before temp reaches 290. If you do, you'll get chewy almond roca .

Photo added December 27, 2008:

Peppermint Ice Cream Cake

For Christmas Eve, we went to a new Japanese hibachi restaurant in Danbury. It was awesome. We got a lot of pictures and videos because it was a lot of fun. It had delicious food. I had a vegetable assortment, and the best fried rice ever. Yum yum yum. For those of you in the area, it is called Ichiro Hibachi. I think it has franchises open in various other places, like Trumbull, CT and Rockville, MD.

For Christmas, my mom and I made a Peppermint Ice Cream Cake from Cooking Light. It was awesome. My brother and his girlfriend don't like peppermint, but everyone else really liked it. I will definitely make this again. It takes a long time to prepare, only because it has to freeze, but it's totally worth it.

NOTE ADDED ON 12/27/09: We made this again with a different pan and it was much better. See that post HERE.

Peppermint Ice Cream Cake
Cooking spray
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
3/4 cup boiling water
6 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup egg substitute
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (about 6 3/4 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups low-fat peppermint ice cream (such as Edy's/Dreyer's Slow-Churned Light), softened
3 cups frozen fat-free whipped topping, thawed
1/8 teaspoon peppermint extract
8 peppermint candies, crushed

Preheat oven to 350°.

Coat 2 (8-inch) round cake pans with cooking spray. Line bottom of each pan with wax paper.

Combine cocoa, water, and butter, stirring with a whisk until blended. Cool.

Combine sugars in a large bowl, stirring well until blended. Add egg substitute; beat 2 minutes or until light and creamy. Add cocoa mixture, and beat for 1 minute.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Gradually add flour mixture to bowl; beat for 1 minute or until blended. Stir in vanilla. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake at 350° for 28 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes on a wire rack. Remove from pans. Wrap in plastic wrap, and freeze for 2 hours or until slightly frozen.

Spread ice cream in an 8-inch round cake pan lined with plastic wrap. Cover and freeze 4 hours or until firm.

To assemble cake, place one cake layer, bottom side up, on a cake pedestal. Remove ice cream layer from freezer; remove plastic wrap. Place ice cream layer, bottom side up, on top of cake layer. Top with remaining cake layer.

Combine whipped topping and peppermint extract, and stir until blended. Spread frosting over top and sides of cake. Sprinkle with crushed peppermints. Freeze until ready to serve. Let cake stand at room temperature 10 minutes before slicing.

Yield: 16 servings (serving size: 1 slice)

Friday, December 16, 2005

Last day of class

We haven't had much time to cook anything other than frozen stuff or Chinese take-out so that is why no new recipes have been posted in awhile. However, I did feel that yesterday warrants a post since I had some delicious foods.

First, we got out of our first social work class early so my classmates and I went to a bar between classes to celebrate (it was our last day of class). They bought me a drink as an engagement gift, which was sweet. I got a Fenway Slider, which was vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, Oreos, Kahlua, Cocoa de Creme, and some other stuff that I can't remember. It was quite delicious.

Then we went back to class, and our professor was like, "To celebrate our last day of class, I decided to throw a party for you. Let's all go downstairs." She didn't really throw the party for us, but she snuck us into the faculty banquet. I ate:
-Butternut Squash Ravioli in a Cinnamon Cream Sauce (so freaking good)
-Baked ziti
-Grilled vegetables (eggplant, zucchini, etc)
-Marinated mozzarella balls
-Miniature pizza
-French fries
-Chocolate mousse tart
-Tropical petit fours (not very good)
-Chocolate-covered strawberries
-Miniature eclairs

It was lovely.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Cranberry-Walnut Bread

HERE is a link to my recipe (complete with pictures I took) for Cranberry Walnut Bread. I love it. It is from Everyday Food magazine. It's really good, especially the day after you bake it because then it gets all sugary and the cranberries aren't as tart as they are on the first day.

I posted the recipe on Something Awful's cooking forum originally (that is why the recipe was submitted by Lauren HaguPie - that is my handle on SA). Then it was picked up to go on this guy's website (Visual Recipes), and eventually it will end up on GBSFood. GBSFood is a compilation site of all of the recipes posted in the SA Cooking forum.

Confused enough yet?

Anyway, I hope you make the bread and enjoy it. I made two loaves: One to eat, one to freeze. The bread freezes ridiculously well if you wrap it up in plastic wrap. I am going to take it to my mom next week for Christmas.