Monday, March 26, 2012

Rich and Decadent Chocolate Molten Lava Cakes

Oh Boy!
Warm, rich, chocolatey, gooey, and did I mention decadent?
You could seriously hurt yourself on these things.

I have a friend who is finishing up cooking school, and I stopped by her house to visit last night. She told me about the molten lava cakes she’d made earlier that day and showed me the recipe.

I’ve been wanting to try these for a while, and had even just bought ramekins for them.  I was thrilled to have her share her recipe with me - definitely tried and tested!

These are so easy that I was able to memorize the essentials since I didn't write it down.  My family LOVED them.  And the best part is that they are simple, quick and easy, yet they seem so elegant, and like you've been slaving in the kitchen.
Just remember 6, 6, ¼, 2, 1.  That’s it.

Chocolate Molten Lava Cakes - 4 servings
6 oz chocolate squares (the higher percentage of cocoa butter, the better) 
6 T. unsalted butter
¼  C. sugar
2 Eggs – lightly beaten
1 T. flour

Place chocolate, butter and sugar in a double boiler, and allow to melt.  Once chocolate and butter have melted, stir until thoroughly mixed. 

Remove from double boiler – allow a few minutes to cool, then beat eggs into chocolate mixture – taking care to mix quickly so that the eggs don’t cook. 

Add flour, and spoon batter into 4 ramekins that have been sprayed with a cooking spray. 

Bake in 400* oven for 12-14 minutes depending on your oven (mine took 14, but my friend said 12).  If they over cook, the molten lava center will be cooked and it will turn into a small cake or large brownie.  Time may be adjusted for desired thickness of lava.  Less time = more liquid, more time = less liquid center.  
You can see in the following photo that the center doesn't look 'quite set'.  

Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
Invert onto serving dish and serve immediately. 

Sprinkle with powdered sugar, or serve with a chocolate sauce, ganache, or fresh raspberries/fruit.

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I made these for dinner tonight and was amazed when my kids commented that this is one of their favorite meals!  Who knew?  This is probably one of the quickest dinners ever. 

My friend Berta served these to us years ago and it has become one of our staples - especially on busy evenings.
The base of the tostada looks like this:

You can find various brands, but they are pre-cooked and very crunchy and delicious - my kids even love to just snack on them.  You can generally find them near the tortillas in any grocery store.

This is my favorite cheese for these - you can find it at Walmart, Costco and most grocery stores.  It crumbles really nicely and is rather mild.

Refried beans or canned pinto beans
Queso fresco
Chopped onion, tomatoes, olives, cilantro, lettuce - all to taste

If using canned pinto beans, drain half of the liquid.  Heat a large pan, and add 2 T. olive oil.  Once hot, add beans and heat.  As the beans heat, use a potato masher or the bottom of a cup and smash all of the beans until they are smooth and spreadable - here's a link.   If using canned refried beans, simply spread a layer over the tostada.
Sprinkle with crumbled cheese, olives, tomatoes, onions, lettuce.
Optional :Top with sour cream and hot sauce to taste. 
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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cheesecake Bars

I stumbled across this recipe on Pinterest., and it looked pretty tasty.  I couldn't wait to try it.
The recipe I stumbled across however, called for refrigerated cookie dough - blech!  that makes me shudder.
I wanted to see how this would turn out using my own chocolate chip cookie dough recipe.

It got some pretty hearty reviews from my home.
Here's the recipe with a few tweaks (and real chocolate chip cookie dough)

In a Mixer Combine: 

2.5 C Brown Sugar
¾ C Butter Flavor Crisco (I use the cubes)
3/4 C. Butter
4 TBSP Milk
2 TBSP Vanilla extract
Mix ingredients
2 Eggs and mix again
In a Separate Bowl combine:
3.5 C Flour
2 tsp salt
1.5 tsp baking soda

Slowly add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix
Add 2-3 c. chocolate chips (more is better!)
Add 1/2 - 1 C butterscotch chips (optional)
Add 1 C. chopped nuts (optional)

Spray a 11 x 15" pan with cooking spray, and spread half of the cookie dough into the bottom of the pan.  
Cover with cheesecake filling

Cheesecake Filling
  • (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a large bowl, beat together cream cheese, eggs, sugar, and vanilla extract until well mixed.

Spread over half of the cookie dough, then cover cheesecake filling with the remaining cookie dough.  Bake at 350* for 40 minutes or until center is done. 
Cool, then refrigerate. 
Cut into slices when well chilled.  

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Homemade Ravioli, Filling, and Red Pepper Garlic Alfredo Sauce

My kids love ravioli and tortellini, so with the kids on spring break, we decided to try our hand at making our own.  We made a basic pasta dough, and then came up with our own filling.


  • 3 cups unbleached white flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup water
    Place flour and salt in a bowl and make a well in the center of the flour.Add 2 lightly beaten eggs, and begin to mix.  Add enough water to make a stiff dough.  While this recipe only calls for 1/2 c. water, I ended up putting almost 2.5 c. of water into mine.  So, depending on your humidity and altitude, you may need more or less. 
    Knead until smooth and mixed and place in a ziploc bag, or cover with plastic, and let sit for 30 minutes. 
    Working in sections, roll out dough (or use a pasta maker) into very thin sections. Fill with 1 tsp. filling.Using a pizza slicer, slice into sections.Fold dough over filling and seal the edges. Seal edges again with fork tines.  Edges may be moistened with milk or water if desired prior to sealing. 

Allow to dry for one hour.
Heat salted water to a boil.
Add raviolis, and cook until they float to the top; approximately 2-3 minutes.

Serve with an Alfredo sauce, marinara, or toss with clarified butter.

Sausage & Ricotta Ravioli Filling

1 c. sausage, browned, drained and crumbled
1 c. ricotta
2 eggs lightly beaten
1/2 c. red peppers finely diced
1 garlic clove - finely diced
2 T. green onions, finely chopped

Mix together and fill raviolis with 1 tsp.

Red Pepper & Garlic Alfredo Sauce

Melt 2 T. butter in skillet
Add 1/2 c. chopped red pepper and 1.5 t. finely chopped garlic.
Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring.
Add 1/4 c. flour and mix until peppers and garlic are coated.
Slowly add 1-2 c. milk, stirring constantly as a roux forms.
Add 1/4-1/2 c. parmesean cheese.
Add milk to thin if necessary.
Add 1/2 t. ground nutmeg.

Spoon over cooked ravioli and garnish with fresh red peppers and sliced green onions.
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Panoramic Easter Eggs

My mom made these for us as kids and we loved them (but hated that we couldn't eat them)
My kids and their cousins made these last year and we had so much fun.  
This year I had to hunt for the recipe again, so here it is.  
The molds can be found in hobby or craft stores.

Sugar eggs
3.5 c. white sugar
1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 egg white

Whisk egg white in medium bowl until frothy.  If coloring is desired, add at this time.  As large amounts of sugar will be added, make colors more intense as the sugar will dilute the color.

Whisk sugars together in another bowl until well mixed.  Add to egg white mixture.
Continue to stir as sugar will gradually begin to dampen.  Mixture should be moist like damp sand, and should clump if squeezed in a hand.

Firmly pack sugar into egg mold making sure there are no air pockets or cracks.

Using knife or spatula, level top and remove excess sugar.

Place a plate or cookie sheet over molds, and invert.

Remove egg mold, and allow to dry for 1-2 hours at room temperature or place in 200* oven for 25 - 30 minutes.  If oven method is used, allow to cool.

Gently scrape a hollow into the eggs - solely leaving the outer shell - approx. 1/4 ".

Using royal icing as glue, add colored coconut for grass, and candies and small animal figurines.

After completing inner scene, using royal icing, glue sides together and decorate as desired. 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Cuban Sandwiches

So, remember that I live in Florida now.
My friend Fidel who is Cuban (seriously) served these to us a while back, and taught me how to make amazing Cuban Sandwiches (which I think is a big thing here).  

1 loaf cuban bread (looks like a long baguette, or long and skinny french bread)
2 eight oz. packages deli sliced swiss or baby swiss cheese
1-2 lbs deli sliced serrano ham (which can be substituted if it can't be found)
Bread and butter pickle slices
2 c. shredded pork

Slice bread in half, and butter the insides well. 
Drizzle mustard on both sides of the bread, then working on one side, spread shredded pork. 
Layer pork with slices of ham (in a triangle layered fashion).
Layer ham with cheese slices (placed in opposite direction). 

Layer cheese slices with pickles in opposing direction.
Close sandwich, and butter the outsides of the bread. 
Cut in half, and heat in a panini press until cheese begins to melt. 
If a panini press is not available, heat on a griddle, pushing down with a spatula as this is a flattened style sandwich. 
Serve immediately. 

My friend Fidel used to own a restaurant and says that the secret to these is NO mayo.  Most places use mayo, but he says the mayo kills the sandwich.   Buen provecho!