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  • Have a Spooky Halloween!

    Cheddar Witches Fingers - Cheese straws in the shape of fingers, complete with a black almond "finger nail." Delicious and totally spooky.

    Candy Apples - You don't need to go to the fair to get my favorite treat because you can make these at home. Black food coloring gives them a festive touch.

    Pumpkin Caramel Sauce - Having a not-so-scary Halloween party? Serve ice cream with this pumpkin infused caramel sauce on top.

Monthly Archives: March 2013

Chocolate Cake with Ganache Frosting and Chocolate Truffle Easter Eggs {+ a giveaway!}

Chocolate Cake with Ganache Frosting and Chocolate Truffle Easter Eggs
Clara still doesn’t really understand holidays, but that hasn’t stopped us from celebrating them with her. The truth is – Eric and I love doing special little things for Clara, holiday or not. There’s such a fine balance, it seems, between celebrating a holiday and going completely over the top. What works for one family obviously isn’t the same as what works for another, but Eric and I like to keep things simple and fun. Clara’s getting a few new books, an adorable cloth diaper and some fruit and veggie pouches and snacks in her basket this year. If there’s any way we do go overboard, though, it would probably be food. Even though it’s just the three of us celebrating, there’s no reason we can’t have a nicer-than-usual meal. I hope Clara will remember us cooking and eating together when she grows up. After all, she won’t be getting Easter baskets forever, but we can make sure she has wonderful holiday memories even after she’s outgrown the Easter Bunny stage.

This cake is for the serious chocolate lover. I’m usually all for lighter Easter desserts (like this lemon loaf cake), but this intensely chocolaty cake cannot be beat. The cake is an ultra rich chocolate cake filled and frosted with whipped chocolate ganache and then completely covered with more chocolate ganache. Oh, then the whole thing is topped with homemade chocolate truffle eggs. The cake may seem labor intensive, but you can break it up into steps over a couple days to make it more manageable. I promise you, the end result is well worth it. Seriously, people, you need to make this cake this weekend. You absolutely will not regret it.

Even though I’m sure some of you will have more chocolate than you know what to do with after Sunday, I thought I’d give you the chance to get even more. :) Theo Chocolate is one of my favorite companies. They’re all about organic, Fair Trade, non-GMO chocolate. Additionally, they’ve got a special line of Congolese chocolate that helps out the Eastern Congo Initiative. Basically, I love their chocolate and everything they stand for, and they’ve agreed to send a sampler pack to one of you lucky readers! Just head on over to the giveaway page to enter.

Chocolate Cake with Ganache Frosting and Chocolate Truffle Easter Eggs

Chocolate Cake with Ganache Frosting and Chocolate Truffle Easter Eggs

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Yield: 8-10 servings

Chocolate Cake with Ganache Frosting and Chocolate Truffle Easter Eggs

Ingredients

For the chocolate eggs:
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
3 tablespoons heavy cream
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped
Food coloring and luster dust (optional)
For the cake:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for pans
½ cup cocoa powder, plus more for dusting
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
¾ cup water
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
½ cup low-fat buttermilk
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
For the frosting:
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
½ cup heavy cream
For the glaze:
¾ cup heavy cream
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 tablespoons corn syrup

Directions

To make the eggs, combine the chocolate and heavy cream in a small bowl set over a small pot of simmering water. Using a rubber spatula, stir until smooth and melted. Whisk in the butter until melted and combined. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm but pliable, about 2 hours.

Using a small scoop or tablespoon, scoop out balls of dough. Mold them into egg shapes, refrigerating as needed if the chocolate gets too warm. Once the shapes are formed, place them on a parchment lined plate and freeze for 1 hour.

When you are ready to dip the truffles, melt the white chocolate in a small bowl. If desired, tint with food coloring. Use a fork to dip each truffle center in the white chocolate and gently shake to remove excess. Return to the parchment lined plate and refrigerate until ready to serve. To apply luster dust, use a clean paint brush to gently brush it on.

To make the cakes, heat oven to 350º. Butter the bottom and sides of 2 8-inch round cake pans. Line the bottoms with parchment, and then butter the parchment. Dust the pans with cocoa powder and tap out the excess.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan set over medium heat. Once melted, whisk in the cocoa powder, espresso powder and water until dissolved. Add the sugar and continue whisking until smooth. Remove from heat and whisk in the eggs, buttermilk and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking soda and salt until just combined.

Divide the batter evenly among the prepared pans and bake for about 35 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for about 20 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

While the cake is cooling, make the frosting. Combine the chocolate and cream in a medium bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Using a rubber spatula, stir until smooth and melted. Refrigerate, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate has stiffened to the texture of cream cheese. Using an electric mixer, whisk the ganache until smooth, fluffy and sightly lightened in color.

Level each cake if needed. Place one cake, cut side up, on a wire cooling rack and spread ½ cup of frosting over it. Top with the second cake, cut side down, and spread remaining frosting over top and sides. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes.

While the cake is chilling, make the ganache glaze. Heat the cream in a small saucepan until simmering. Place the chocolate and corn syrup in a heatproof bowl and pour the cream over the top. Allow to sit for a minute, then whisk until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Place the chilled cake on a wire rack over a piece of parchment, then pour the glaze over the top. Use an offset spatula to cover any bare spots. Refrigerate the cake until set, about 15 minutes. (Don't make the mistake I did and decide to smooth the ganache as it was starting to set up. Oops.)

Top cake with truffle eggs and serve immediately.

Source

Adapted from Martha Stewart

http://www.cooklikeachampionblog.com/2013/03/chocolate-cake-with-ganache-frosting-chocolate-truffle-easter-eggs/

Frito Pie

Frito Pie

When I was planning the menu for Clara’s first birthday party, I had my heart set on serving mini chicken pot pies as the main course. They were the main dish at my baby shower, and I thought it would be fun to incorporate a savory pie into the menu. However, once I really started thinking about it, I realized I would have to buy over 50 of the ramekins to bake the pies in and then I’d have no use for them after the party. When my friend Annie suggested Frito Pie, I knew she was onto something. It would be much easier to make and serve, something that is definitely a plus when it comes to party food.

When I mentioned making Frito Pie for the party, I got a glazed over look from so many people. I thought it was a common food all over the country, but apparently I was wrong. For those of you not in the know, it’s basically chili served over Fritos. I thought it was a fun play on the pie theme, and it was a big hit with everyone that tried it. I kept it simple with toppings, serving it with cheese, sour cream and green onions. If you want to go all out, add sliced (fresh or pickled) jalapeños, red onions and cilantro. We scaled back the heat some since we wanted the kiddos to enjoy this too, but I’ve included the original amount below. Like all of the party food, this dish was well received (especially with the cornbread whoopie pies) and will definitely be making an appearance on our menu again soon.

Frito Pie

Frito Pie

Cook Time: 55 minutes

Yield: 6-8 servings

Frito Pie

This recipe is easily doubled to serve a crowd. It can also be made ahead of time and reheated when needed, which makes it perfect for a party. Feel free to adjust the amounts of cayenne and chili powder to increase or decrease the level of spiciness.

Ingredients

2 ½ pounds ground beef
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
Kosher salt, to taste
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
1¼ tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon paprika
1½ teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 bay leaves
1½ cups water or beef broth
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 10.5-ounce bag Fritos-brand corn chips
Freshly shredded cheese, sour cream, sliced jalapeños, minced red onion, sliced green onions and finely chopped cilantro, for serving

Directions

Add the beef to a large pot or Dutch oven set over medium-high heat, working in batches if needed. Cook, stirring until browned, about 10 minutes. Drain in a colander and return the pot to the stove.

Heat the oil, then add the onion. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is browned and starting to caramelize, 12-15 minutes. Add garlic and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes, until the garlic is fragrant and slightly softened. Add salt, cumin, chili powder, oregano, pepper, garlic powder, paprika, cayenne, and bay leaves. Stir until the mixture is fragrant and smooth, about 1 minute.

Add reserved beef, water or beef broth and tomatoes and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chili has thickened to your liking. Add additional water or beef broth as needed to thin the chili to your desired consistency.

To serve, place chips in serving bowls and ladle chili over the top. Sprinkle on the cheese and top with other garnishes, if desired.

Source

Saveur, December 2011

http://www.cooklikeachampionblog.com/2013/03/frito-pie/

Blueberry Cornmeal Butter Cake

Blueberry Cornmeal Butter Cake

I’m so ready for spring weather that it’s not even funny. I put my boots in the back of the closet and have been wearing flats out of sheer stubbornness because I’m so over cold weather. This is problematic on days like today when I woke up to snow. We’re more than halfway through March! It’s officially spring, but apparently someone missed the memo. I love the longer days and warmer temperatures that spring brings, and I also love the return of the farmers market and spring foods. We haven’t quite made it there yet, but I’m not making any more cold weather food. From here on out, it’s all spring foods no matter what the temperature is like outside.

This snack cake is perfect for this time of year, especially with Easter coming up. It’s light, sweet and can be served for breakfast, brunch or dessert. Personally, I love the idea of cake for breakfast. Plus, this has blueberries and fruit automatically makes it okay for breakfast, right? Right. This cake is slightly sweet and gets a wonderful texture from the cornmeal. It’s a little delicate and feels like it would be best served with tea or coffee, in the morning or afternoon, on weekends or weeknights. Basically this cake is good whenever, wherever and with whatever. The only minor change I would make is to reduce the amount of streusel topping slightly, but that’s just for my personal tastes. If you love streusel, by all means use the full amount listed. Also, I found that I needed to bake the cake a while longer than the recipe called for, and one of my friends that made it before me (thanks for getting me hooked on this, Rebecca!) had the same issue, so I’m including a range of time in the directions. I will most definitely be making this again soon, and I’ll go ahead and warn you now that it can be highly addictive. If I hadn’t given half of it to our neighbors, I probably would have devoured the entire thing.

Blueberry Cornmeal Butter Cake

Blueberry Cornmeal Butter Cake

Cook Time: 55 minutes

Yield: 16 pieces

Blueberry Cornmeal Butter Cake

This cake is studded with blueberries and topped with a sweet, crumbly streusel topping. Enjoy it for breakfast or dessert.

Ingredients

For the cake:
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for pan
1 cup all-purprose flour, plus more for pan
½ cup cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
⅓ cup sour cream
2 cups blueberries, rinsed and patted dry
For the streusel:
½ cup sugar
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornmeal
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of table salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Directions

Heat oven to 350º. Line an 8-inch square cake pan with a piece of parchment, leaving an overhang on two sides of the pan. Butter and flour the bottom and sides of the pan, or lightly coat them with nonstick spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt. Beat the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer for about 2 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well and scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla and lemon zest and beat until combined. Add a third of the flour mixture, all of the sour cream and then another third of the flour, beating until just combined. Toss the blueberries with the remaining flour (this will prevent the blueberries from sinking). Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the blueberry-flour mixture into the cake batter.

Spread the cake batter into the prepared pan. Whisk together the sugar, flour, cornmeal and cinnamon in the medium bowl from earlier, then use a fork or your fingertips to work in the butter pieces. Scatter the streusel over the cake batter.

Bake the cake until the top is golden and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 35-55 minutes. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes, then use the parchment handles to lift it out of the pan and onto a wire cooling rack. Cool completely before cutting (if you can wait that long!).

Source

http://www.cooklikeachampionblog.com/2013/03/blueberry-cornmeal-butter-cake/

Jalapeño Cornbread Whoopie Pies with Goat Cheese and Bacon Filling

Jalapeño Cornbread Whoopie Pies with Goat Cheese and Bacon Filling

I think all of the food we made for Clara’s party was well received, but the whoopie pies were the clear favorite. They were popular with everyone, and I got so many “Is this recipe on your blog?” questions that I knew I had to post the recipe right away.

Most people think of whoopie pies as a dessert, but I knew I wanted to make savory ones for Clara’s party. Since Frito Pie was the main dish, I wanted something cornbread-esque to have as a side. I’m not at all surprised at how quickly these whoopies disappeared. I mean, let’s be real here. It’s goat cheese, bacon and chives sandwiched between two slightly spicy cornbread cakes. There’s pretty much no way you can go wrong with that combination.

Jalapeño Cornbread Whoopie Pies with Goat Cheese and Bacon Filling

Get the recipe »


Our Little Cutie Pie: Clara’s First Birthday

DIY Tissue Garland
I don’t know how it’s possible, but our little girl turned one last week. I still remember announcing her birth to all of you. Our first year with Clara was magical and filled with moments I will treasure forever. In other ways, though, the year was very long and very difficult. Through it all, Clara has been the light in the dark places. She is our world, and we were elated to celebrate her big day in a big way.

I struggled with deciding on a theme for her party, and I bounced several ideas off some of my best friends. When the pie theme popped into my head, I knew I had to run with it. It seemed fitting for Clara, who we frequently refer to as “Cutie Pie.” The color scheme was easy. I had seen a coral and mint wedding on Pinterest, and I knew those colors were perfect for the vintage-y pie theme. Back in early January, I had no idea those two colors would be everywhere a couple months later. I kind of want to use them all over the house now.

Food Table
The dishes we used were a mixture of vintage Pyrex and a few new dishes to match the color scheme. I’m so happy with how they came together!

For the food, I wanted a menu that could be made largely in advance. I’m not sure it could have been done any other way, especially considering the exorbitant amount of pie dough I made leading up to the party. We broke it up, making party food each night after dinner, but still ended up doing quite a bit the night before (after my momentary “do we have enough food” freakout). This was the biggest party we’ve ever hosted (we had over 40 people at our house!) but thankfully had plenty of food to go around.

Ham and Cheese Hand PiesThese hand pies were super popular with kids and adults. They’re like Hot Pockets but way, way better.

Our menu for the party included:
Frito Pie
Jalapeño Goat Cheese Whoopie Pies
Pizza Dip and tortilla chips
Ham and Cheese Hand Pies

Key Lime Pie Dip with fruit and graham crackers
Mini Chocolate Pies
Mini Peanut Butter Pies
Banana Cream Pie Cupcakes and Smash Cake

Beer, white wine sangria, and Trader Joe’s French Berry Lemonade soda
Nutella Pie Pops (favors)

Mason JarsI love mason jars as drinking glasses, and I used jute twine and craft paper tags to make these party-worthy. The mint paper straws tied the jars into the party colors.

Painted FramesEric and I painted these frames (from Michael’s) and used them to display Clara’s monthly pictures. Since our bar was being used for drinks, we lined the frames up on our desk. We also put Clara’s baby book out so that people could flip through it if they wanted.

Nutella Pie PopsI absolutely love the idea of edible favors, and these Nutella Pie Pops were a huge hit. I made the paper hearts using my Silhouette and tied them on using baker’s twine. The paper was leftover from making the cupcake stand. The pail was a clearance find at Target after Valentine’s Day. I know it’s not coral, but it was too cute to pass up.Stamped Wooden ForksThese stamped forks were one of my favorite DIY touches. I found the stamp and ink at Michael’s. It’s hard to capture on camera, but these looked seriously cute in person. This was definitely the easiest DIY of all the party projects.

InvitationI made the invitations and food labels myself in Photoshop and had them printed locally. I was really proud of how they came out.Pie Smash CakeSadly, I didn’t get a great picture of Clara’s cake (this is a phone picture with an Instagram filter). I made it to look like a pie, and I was mostly happy with how it came out. This cake was my inspiration. I used Wilton Buttercup Yellow gel coloring to achieve the pie dough color I wanted for the fondant. Once Clara smashed the cake, we peeled back the fondant so she could dig right into the cake and frosting.

Eating cake
Clara looked adorable the entire time, and I’m beyond thrilled with how her dress came out. I’m so glad I decided to make it for her. The felt bow headband was also made by me.

Though the day started on the rough side since Clara didn’t nap at all before the party, things went surprisingly well (thanks to a few extra helping hands). Clara ate her cake like a champ (no surprise there), and we had a fabulous time. Our time spent with Clara has been the most wonderful time, and we’re excited to watch her grow and change over the next year.

Clara
Many of the recipes from the party will be posted in the coming weeks. If you want to see my inspiration for the party, you can check out the pinboard I created for Clara’s party.

Vendors:
Paper straws and twine for favors- TalkingTwineandTrim on Etsy
Paper food trays – ThePinkPicker on Etsy
Baking cups – CakeWithLove on Etsy
Invitations and food tents/labels – Designed by me and printed locally at Print1
Felt balls for garland – AnnyMay and Handbehg Felts on Etsy
Coral cake stand and bowl – Threshold line at Target
Felt ball and tissue paper garlands – Made by me
Clara’s dress and bow – Made by me, fabric is Verona Rouge Stripe by Riley Blake