Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Chocolate Cinnamon Torte

This is my Father in Law's favorite dessert. Ever.  It is what my Mother in Law or I make for his birthday each year.

It's a labor of love to make, but worth every oooh and aaaah when you present it.  And one of those desserts that has you rolling the bite around on your tongue and rolling your eyes back in your head lingering in the taste.

Chocolate Cinnamon Torte
2 c sugar
1-1/2 c salted butter, softened
2 eggs
1 t vanilla extract
1-1/2 t ground cinnamon
2-2/3 c all-purpose flour

3 oz semi-sweet chocolate
4 c heavy or whipping cream
1/2 c cocoa

Up to 3 days ahead:
1.      Tear 14 sheets parchment paper, each about 10” long. On reverse of each sheet, trace pie pan or bottom of 9” cake pan.
2.      Into large bowl or Cuisinart measure sugar, butter, eggs & vanilla.  Combine and whip, do not liquefy. Add cinnamon and 2 cups flour, beat about 3 minutes or until fluffy, occasionally scraping bowl.  With spoon, stir in remaining flour to make a soft dough.
3.      Preheat oven to 375F.
4.      With frosting spatula, spread a scant 1/3 c dough in a very thin layer onto each circle.  I hold the sheet up to light to see if there are any thick/thin spots.  Use ends of parchment to lift on to a cookie sheet.  Bake 7-9 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges.
5.      Remove cookie to wire rack using ends of parchment, allow to cool. Cut excess parchment from cookie, about a 1” margin.
6.      Repeat until all dough is baked. Stack cooled cookies carefully on a flat plate; cover with plastic wrap and store in cool, dry place.

Early in the day or day ahead:
1.      Coarsely grate chocolate; set aside.
2.      In large bowl with mixer at medium speed, beat cream and cocoa until soft peaks form.
3.      Carefully peel paper from one cookie.  Place a small dollop of whip in middle bottom of cake plate (this will keep the cake from sliding).  Place cookie on top.
4.      Spread with 1/2 c whipped mixture (measure so you don't run out).  Repeat layering until all cookies are used, ending with whipped mixture on top.
5.     Pile grated chocolate on top of cake; refrigerate until serving time, or at least 3 hours before serving so cookies soften for easier cutting. Makes 16 super rich servings.

Alternate: Make 2-3” cookies and assemble individual size cakes.

Recipe adapted from a tattered copy clipped from BH&G by my Mother in Law 20+ years ago. 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Blueberry Picking!

Have you ever been to a pick-your-own blueberry patch?  Neither had we until 2 weekends ago when I ventured out with a friend.  Packed up the kiddos and made the short drive just outside of town, about 35 minutes.

We were greeted by a friendly gal, later introduced as a neighbor who helps out when they're short handed, who gave us instructions:  You'll walk out to these markers.  The farther back you go in the row, the better the picking gets.  When you pick, pull up, not down on the plant.  And, pick only the bluest of blueberries; not green, not crimson, blue with a little white haze on them.  That's how you know they're good.  And if you need to taste a few to make sure you're on the right track -wink-wink- that's allowed.

Well, the 2 year old with us took that tasting part to heart - we are quite sure he ate half his weight in berries while the rest of us picked.  Thankfully they know that's going to happen and had no problem with his berry-stained paws!  All our fellow pickers were really friendly too.

Have you ever tasted a blueberry right off the bush?  It's the most amazing thing. Ever.  We will be doing this every year.  A tradition that starts now.

After we had enough in our buckets, and the kids were beginning to complain about thirst and heat we went up to the little store and enjoyed popsicles and cold drinks and were regaled with a whole host of blueberry items - blueberry honey, preserves, lemonade, muffins (of course).  I picked just over 2 pounds and my friend just under - and we walked away for a total, get this, under $13.  Even the snacks only came up to about $5!  How can you beat that for an inexpensive, delicious, get the kids out in nature, outing!?  She was making a pie.  I made blueberry pancakes the next morning.  And we've been enjoying and sharing our prize pickings.  Such a treat.

Thanks so much for the hospitality of The Berry Patch, we will never look at blueberries the same way again!