Wednesday, June 30, 2010

My Cup Runneth Over With Substance (Apparently)

The other day, on my other blog, I received this award. I was pretty humbled by this award because that blog is not even a month old and I'm already receiving awards! What?!?!? That's crazy! But awesome! I'll take it!!

So I followed the rules and I awarded it out to some other blogs I know of that I think are pretty awesome. I usually try to keep that blog and this blog separate so my favorite blogs over here were kind of ignored by this award. Until...the award found it's way back here to Jolts & Jollies! That's right folks, Jolts & Jollies has been deemed a Blog of Substance by my dear friend Emily over at Scatterbrained Wife of a Soldier!

I never expected this award to make it's way over here but I'm happy it did so I can award some of my favorite foodie type blogs with this awesome award as well. Though I am also throwing some other types of blogs in here as well since they comment more over here than over there.

Yes, I do have to pass on the bloggy love. There are rules with accepting an award and here they are:

The Rules:
~ Thank the blogger who awarded it to you.
~ Sum up your blogging philosophy, motivation, and experience using five words.
~ Pass it on to 10 other blogs which you feel have real substance.

My blogging philosophy in 5 words or less: Great food and great fun! (this one is different from my philosophy on the other blog since they are different types)

Ten other blogs that I believe have substance:

In no particular order:

Life is Still Sweet
Lick the Bowl Good
In the Military and On the Move
I am Baker
Bake at 350
Within a Mile of Home
3 B's...Baseball, Baking, and Books
Willow Bird Baking
Pink Little Cake
Almost Bourdain

This was a really difficult award to give out because there are so many amazing blogs out there that I think are full of substance! Maybe one day I'll win another one but I hope all the blogs I love will receive some bloggy award love because it's a great feeling! 

Thanks again Emily for awarding Jolts & Jollies such a great award!!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Lemon Pavlova (Kinda)

During this month's Daring Baker's Challenge there was some debate over what makes a "traditional" pavlova or not. Both Australia and New Zealand assert that the pavlova originated in that country. Some Daring Baker's from Australia said that the chocolate pavlova we were instructed to make was not a true pavlova.

Enter in our savior! One of the most incredible and remarkable Daring Kitcheneers is Audax Artifex. Audax is pretty much the first person to post a completed challenge and he is always so inspired. I feel I will learn a lot from him in the coming months with The Daring Kitchen. During the debate of whether the chocolate pavlova was really a pavlova, Audax took it upon himself to educate us non-Australian folks and post a recipe for a true "down under" pavlova. I took this recipe and being inspired by a dessert I tried at a restaurant recently, I changed it up a bit to make a lemon pavlova. That means it's not a true Australian pavlova but it sure was tasty!!

Luckily, I took pictures of the whole process and I am going to share it with you! So here we go...

Ingredients: Caster (or superfine baking) sugar, white vinegar, cream of tartar, corn starch, heavy cream, eggs, lemon, and fruit for topping (I used a frozen bag of berry medley).

Place a springform pan on a parchment lined baking sheet. Sprinkle the parchment paper with 1 TBSP of the cornstarch.

Dump the egg whites in a mixing bowl (preferably a deep, narrow mixing bowl).

Add the cream of tarter...

And beat on high speed until soft peaks form.

Add the sugar in, one tablespoon at a time.

 Mix the last tablespoon of sugar with the remaining cornstarch...

And add it at the end. Woah!!! Maybe you might want to turn off the beater before snapping a picture. Or else you might get dizzy like this picture is making me!

Zest one regular size lemon.

And juice two lemons, or until you have about a 1/4 cup of lemon juice.

Add the zest to the meringue mixture...

And beat until it is well combined.

Now, to the mixture, we are going to gently fold in the vinegar...

And lemon juice...

Until it's all nicely mixed together.

Dump the mixture into the springform pan...

And smooth it out into the pan.

Now gently and carefully remove the pan from the uncooked meringue. Gently toss it in the oven.

And bake. Then you can go ahead and deflate a little when after 1 3/4 hours you go check it and find that it spread and flattened during cooking. Then you can curse the fact that you added so much extra juice and blame the wetness of the meringue that made it flatten. But then you can remember the little taste you got of the meringue when you got some on your finger and without thinking licked it off...that will make the flattening much easier to swallow.

While the pavlova is cooling you can whip heavy cream on high until soft peaks form and you have a...wait for it...a whipped cream! LOL! I added about 3 tablespoons of sugar to the cream to give it a little sweetness.

Once the pavlova is cooled, top it with the whipped cream and the fruit of your choice.

Cut it into slices...and enjoy!!!

This is pretty much the best dessert I've ever had. The tart lemon, the lightness of the pavlova, the fruit. It's amazing! This is definitely going to be a regular summer dessert in my home. Now, please head over to Audax's page and give a look to the amazing pavlova's he was able to create during this challenge. Thanks for the amazing recipe Audax and I hope I didn't do it an injustice by changing it up a bit!

Classic Australian Pavlova
Retrieved from Audax Artifex

Cooking time about 1¾ hours

Ingredients (serves 8)
  • 4 teaspoons cornflour (sometimes called cornstarch in the U.S.)
  • 6 egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar (or ½ teaspoon of salt)
  • 1 1/3 cups caster (superfine) sugar or normal granulated sugar (if using U.S. cups add extra one tablespoon of sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I omitted the vanilla and instead used the zest of one lemon and quarter cup of lemon juice)
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 200ml (about ¾ cup) pure cream
  • 250g (1 cup) fresh fruit and berries
  1. Preheat oven to 200°C (395°F). Dust lightly with 1 teaspoon cornflour a sheet of baking paper place on a baking tray. Place a 8” (20cm) x 2.5" (60mm) springform cake tin without a bottom as a container to hold the whipped egg whites on the floured baking paper.
  2. Using an electric mixer on the highest setting, beat egg whites and cream of tartar (or salt) in a narrow deep bowl until soft peaks form (using a narrow deep bowl ensures the beaters are well into the whites and will build up the greatest volume). Add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating constantly until thick and glossy. Add remaining 3 teaspoons of cornflour with the last tablespoon of sugar. Dissolving the caster sugar should take about 10-12 mins if using normal granulated sugar about 15 mins. (Test mixture by feeling a small amount of the meringue between two fingers if it is grainy beat longer.)  Fold through vanilla and vinegar. (After you test and make sure the meringue is not grainy, beat in the lemon zest. Instead of vanilla, fold in the lemon juice and vinegar)
  3. Spoon meringue into the springform cake tin. Shape the uncooked meringue using the springform cake tin as a guide into one giant meringue. Remove the springform cake tin and place the uncooked meringue cake into the oven. Reduce oven to 100°C (212°F). Bake for 1½ to 2 hours or until dry and crisp, test by tasting a teaspoon of the meringue from the top if it doesn't taste of egg it is done don't worry about the small hole made by this testing it will be covered by the topping. Test at 1½ hours and then every 15 mins until ready. Turn off oven and cool completely in oven (pavlova may sink and crack during cooling).

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Daring Bakers June 2010: Chocolate Pavlova with Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse

Recently I mentioned that I had joined The Daring Kitchen as a Daring Cook. Well, either because I'm crazy, am a glutton for punishment, or that I'm truly turning into a wannabe foodie, I decided to become a Daring Baker as well. Go me!!

That means you all get to read about my trials, successes, and failures in my attempts to keep up with all the talented Kitcheneers that The Daring Kitchen has to offer. So let's talk about my first Daring Baker's challenge.

The June 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Dawn of Doable and Delicious. Dawn challenged the Daring Bakers’ to make Chocolate Pavlovas and Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse. The challenge recipe is based on a recipe from the book Chocolate Epiphany by Francois Payard.

Several things were required for this challenge. We had to make the pavlova, the chocolate mascarpone mousse, and the mascarpone cream (which included having to make creme anglaise) from the recipes that were provided for us.

Looks pretty doesn't it?? Well. Things didn't go exactly as I planned with this challenge. First off, I cooked the pavlova's WAY too long. Instead of being crispy on the outside and marshmallowy on the inside, they were pretty hard on the outside and kind of chewy and crunchy on the inside. Yeah. Fail. We still ate them though and The Hubble loved the flavor.

Let's move on to that gorgeous pile of mousse sitting on top of the crunchy pavlova. The mousse took me two tries. Apparently I left my brain and abilities to read a recipe in another state? Country? Who knows where. So I ended up melting the chocolate in all of the cream instead of the little bit required. But I did have a helper in the kitchen for the first batch.

Little Butt enjoyed unwrapping all the squares of chocolate.

And dropping them in the pan of too much cream. She was such a great helper, until she took a bite out of one of the chocolate squares and I had to revoke her kitchen minion status. It was about this time that I realized I did the mousse wrong. So Little Butt went downstairs to watch television while The Hubble went to the store to get me more chocolate so I could start over.

While he was gone I made the creme anglaise, which turned out beautifully. It was then that I re-read the recipe and realized this needed to refrigerate overnight. So that went into the fridge. I made the mousse again, perfectly this time, and threw that in the fridge too.

However, let me tell you...the next day my refrigerated mousse ended up being a crumbly mess that I needed to microwave to warm and add a bit more cream and beating with a hand mixer to get it back to it's original moussey state.

THEN, I realized that the creme anglaise was only part of another recipe: the mascarpone cream! Hello!!! So I whipped that up at the last minute. I then plated everything and we struggled to cut our forks through the actual pavlova but ended up picking them up and breaking them with our hands to eat them. The mousse and the cream were delicious! I used Kahlua in the mousse in place of sambucca and I omitted the lemon and Grand Marnier from the pavlova (I do not like orange and chocolate). I then dusted mine with cinnamon because I love cinnamon with my coffee.

So there ya have it folks. My first Daring Baker's challenge was somewhat of a wreck. I did, however, create another pavlova thanks to another Daring Baker posting an Australian recipe. I will be sharing that one soon so keep your eyes glued to your screen! Here's a reason you should come back for that one: it was delicious!!!! And it worked!!!! (kinda...)

If you are interested in seeing how the other Daring Baker's fared with their pavlovas head over to the blogroll and give them a look see.

Until then, if you are feeling brave, here's the recipe (all of them) for this delicious ridiculously indulgent chocolate dessert.

Chocolate Pavlova with Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse
Retrieved from The Daring Kitchen 

Recipe 1: Chocolate Meringue (for the chocolate Pavlova):
  • 3 large egg whites
  • ½ cup plus 1 tbsp (110 grams) white granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup (30 grams) confectioner’s (icing) sugar
  • 1/3 cup (30 grams) cocoa powder
  1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 200º F (95º C) degrees. Line two baking sheets with silpat or parchment and set aside.
  2. Put the egg whites in a bowl and whip until soft peaks form. Increase speed to high and gradually add granulated sugar about 1 tbsp at a time until stiff peaks form. (The whites should be firm but moist.)
  3. Sift the confectioner’s sugar and cocoa powder over the egg whites and fold the dry ingredients into the white. (This looks like it will not happen. Fold gently and it will eventually come together.)
  4. Fill a pastry bag with the meringue. Pipe the meringue into whatever shapes you desire. Alternatively, you could just free form your shapes and level them a bit with the back of a spoon. (Class made rounds, hearts, diamonds and an attempt at a clover was made!)
  5. Bake for 2-3 hours until the meringues become dry and crisp. Cool and store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Recipe 2: Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse (for the top of the Pavlova base):
  • 1 ½ cups (355 mls) heavy cream (cream with a milk fat content of between 36 and 40 percent)
  • grated zest of 1 average sized lemon
  • 9 ounces (255 grams) 72% chocolate, chopped
  • 1 2/3 cups (390 mls) mascarpone (don't forget we made this a few months ago - get the printable .pdf HERE) 
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 2 tbsp (30 mls) Grand Marnier (or orange juice)
  1. Put ½ cup (120 mls) of the heavy cream and the lemon zest in a saucepan over medium high heat. Once warm, add the chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and let sit at room temperature until cool.
  2. Place the mascarpone, the remaining cup of cream and nutmeg in a bowl. Whip on low for a minute until the mascarpone is loose. Add the Grand Marnier and whip on medium speed until it holds soft peaks. (DO NOT OVERBEAT AS THE MASCARPONE WILL BREAK.)
  3. Mix about ¼ of the mascarpone mixture into the chocolate to lighten. Fold in the remaining mascarpone until well incorporated. Fill a pastry bag with the mousse. Again, you could just free form mousse on top of the pavlova.
Recipe 3: Mascarpone Cream (for drizzling):
  • 1 recipe crème anglaise
  • ½ cup (120 mls) mascarpone
  • 2 tbsp (30 mls) Sambucca (optional)
  • ½ cup (120 mls) heavy cream
  1. Prepare the crème anglaise. Slowly whisk in the mascarpone and the Sambucca and let the mixture cool. Put the cream in a bowl and beat with electric mixer until very soft peaks are formed. Fold the cream into the mascarpone mixture.
Recipe 4: Crème Anglaise (a component of the Mascarpone Cream above):
  • 1 cup (235 mls) whole milk
  • 1 cup (235 mls) heavy cream
  • 1 vanilla bean, split or 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 6 tbsp (75 grams) sugar
  1. In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until the mixture turns pale yellow.
  2. Combine the milk, cream and vanilla in a saucepan over medium high heat, bringing the mixture to a boil. Take off the heat. 
  3. Pour about ½ cup of the hot liquid into the yolk mixture, whisking constantly to keep from making scrambled eggs. Pour the yolk mixture into the pan with the remaining cream mixture and put the heat back on medium. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture thickens enough to lightly coat the back of a wooden spoon. DO NOT OVERCOOK.
  4. Remove the mixture from the heat and strain it through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until the mixture is thoroughly chilled, about 2 hours or overnight.

Pipe the mousse onto the pavlovas and drizzle with the mascarpone cream over the top. Dust with confectioner’s sugar and fresh fruit if desired.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

We have this neighbor, Rod. Rod is one of those intensely happy and hyper guys...all the time. Rod has been nothing but nice and friendly to us since we moved here about 2 months ago. He always waves and yells hello whenever we are outside. He got the neighbor kid to mow our lawn when we first moved in. Then he mowed our lawn a couple weeks later because he knew we didn't have the equipment to do it ourselves. He even found out his boss was selling his lawn mower and he paid for it up front (we paid him back) and brought it to us!! Of course, now as I sit here typing this I wonder if he was just really trying to get us to mow our own lawn! Oh well.

So Rod is divorced. His kids don't live with him. I wanted to do something for him for Dad's Day because I wasn't sure if he had anyone around to give him something special on that day. So I made him some red velvet cupcakes because he had mentioned that he liked red velvet. I don't like the stuff but it gave me an opportunity to make some from scratch. I decided to go the cupcake route because he's a single guy and I wanted him to be able to share with friends and not have to eat them all.

Now I'm going to share them with you...

Ingredients: eggs, red gel food coloring, white vinegar, Dutch processed cocoa, salt, cake flour, veggie oil, vanilla extract, sugar, baking soda. For the frosting: butter, cream cheese, vanilla and powdered sugar. There is also supposed to be buttermilk in this picture but I forgot to grab it out of the fridge. D'oh!

Line two cupcake pans with cupcake liners.

Whisk together the flour, cocoa, and salt.

Until well combined.

In a mixing bowl, combine the regular sugar and the oil.

Then add the eggs, one at a time.

Mix until well combined.

Now add the gel food coloring.

And the vanilla.

Mix well! Woah!!!

Add 1/3 of the flour mixture, combine...

Then add half of the buttermilk.

Then add another third of the flour, the other half of buttermilk, then the rest of the flour in an alternating manner mixing well after each addition.

Now combine the baking soda and vinegar in a small bowl. It foams up so don't be scared! Take that mixture and pour it in the batter, mix for 10 seconds (I don't have a picture of this step, sorry).

Then fill your cupcake liners about 3/4 full with batter. I always make such a huge mess in the kitchen! This batter should evenly distribute amongst 24 cupcake liners.

Bake. When a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, they are done. Remove from oven and cool on a cooling rack.

I suck and didn't take pictures of the frosting making process because it got dark. So, make the frosting. I chose to fill each cupcake with frosting. For instructions on how to do this click here.

Then top each cupcake with a bit of frosting as well.

Now put these babies on a tray and beg, plead, barter, then force your Hubble to take them over to the neighbor. Oh wait...that was what I did...You don't have to do that.

Then after the cupcakes have been given away, go ahead and unwrap one to taste...

Oh yeah...These were good. Of course, there was so much dang frosting that I could barely taste the red velvet! This was good for me, but I don't know if Rod likes frosting. I sure hope so! If not, oops!! Enjoy!

Red Velvet Cupcakes
Retrieved from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes 

  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour (not self- rising), sifted
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon red gel-paste food color
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar
  • Cream Cheese Frosting


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk together cake flour, cocoa, and salt.
  2. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, whisk together sugar and oil until combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Mix in food color and vanilla.
  3. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk, and whisking well after each. Stir together the baking soda and vinegar in a small bowl (it will foam); add mixture to the batter, and mix on medium speed 10 seconds.
  4. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.
  5. To finish, use a small offset spatula to spread cupcakes with frosting. Refrigerate up to 3 days in airtight containers; bring to room temperature before serving.
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