Friday, June 29, 2012

Homemade Chocolate Cake Covered with Ganache

I was sitting around the house today, and became bored with the TV and internet.  Most of the time when that happens, I end up in the kitchen.  I know I'm a "big boy", but I didn't go to the kitchen to eat.  I was on a mission.  I was there to cook.  But what was I going to cook?  I like trying to make new things just to see how it turns out, and if I want to change it around or add my own twist to it.  Well, if you made it past the title of this blog, you know I ended up making a Chocolate Cake.  When I got done, I posted this picture online:
Chocolate Cake covered with Ganache and dusted with Powdered Sugar.

I was proud of how it turned out and wanted to share it.  A friend of mine also thought it turned out well, and wanted me to post the recipe on here for her to try out as well. Before I go on, I want to take a moment and give my friend, Kim, a plug for her own blog at:  She requested this, and has been a good friend over the years.  So when you get done drooling here, click on over and drool on her pages for a while and thank her for getting this recipe put up.

Now, on to the good stuff...

Ingredients for cake:
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup Cocoa Powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
Ingredients for Ganache:
  • 1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup Cocoa Powder
  • 1/4 cup Powdered Sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter

We'll start off with the cake.  Mix the sugar, flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, and cocoa powder in a large mixing bowl. 

Now add in the wet ingredients except for water..  Milk, extract, eggs, and vegetable oil.

If you are hand whisking you should do this next part VERY slowly, as you do not want to cook the eggs already in your batter. Electric mixer should be okay, but still go slow, don't just pour the water in.

Start mixing your batter, and slowly pour in the hot water.  Allow each portion of water to be completely mixed before adding more.

Once all of the water has been mixed you should have a slightly runny batter.  

You can use 2 9" round cake pans, a regular bundt pan, or if you have another cake pan of equal volume.  Either spray them down with Baker's Joy (or equivalent I'm not picky) or butter your pan(s) with butter and a paper towel and lightly flour them afterwards.

Distribute your batter to your pan(s), and place them in a pre-heated 350 degree oven on the middle rack for 30-35 minutes.  All ovens were not created equally, so start checking you cake after about 20 minutes.  I test mine with a bamboo skewer but toothpicks, and quite possibly for the older crowd that still uses "the broom whiskers" all will work.  Pull your cake from the oven, and when you put your skewer/toothpick/broom whisker into the cake and pull it out, it shouldn't have any wet batter on it.  If it does, put it back in the oven for another 10 minutes and test it again.  When I get a clean test, I test several areas across the entire cake, just to make sure it done evenly.

Now on to the Ganache.  This is really easy.

Pour you semi-sweet chocolate chips into a medium mixing bowl.

Add the powdered sugar to the chocolate chips.

Add the cocoa powder to the chocolate chips.

Put the butter and cream into a small saucepan and bring it almost to a boil.  Be sure to stir the entire time to prevent burning or scorching.

You can tell it's almost ready when you start to see it let off steam, and it continues to do so as you are stirring.  If you get it to boiling for a few seconds, don't worry, all is not lost.

As soon as it is ready, pour the cream and butter mix in with the other ingredients.

It might be tempting, but let it sit for about a full minute before starting to mix.  This will give the chocolate chips time to soften and allow an easier mix.  Now is also the time if you want to try out some of your extracts.  Maybe a touch of vanilla, or strawberry, maybe even a touch of coconut.  You don't have to, but it may just add another level of complexity to you tastebuds when it's time to eat.

Once it is fully mixed, drizzle it over the top of the cake.

I can see it now.  Someone has done this with a bundt pan and is thinking, "Why do I have all of this Ganache left over!".  You may have some left over with the other pan assortments as well.  It's not a mistake.  Don't flood your cake with the Ganache.  It is already a rich flavored cake.  The remaining Ganache is for plating the slices.  If you serve on small plates or saucers, spoon about 2-3 tablespoons of Ganache onto the plate, and then place a slice of cake on top of it.  As you can see in the picture above, I also dusted mine with a little powdered sugar after adding the Ganache drizzle.  You can add more powdered sugar to the slices, or whipped cream.  Pretty much anything that goes with chocolate.

I admit that I like sweets.  This cake sits pretty much in the middle of the road for me.  It's very rich tasting, but it's also not overly sweet.  Be sure to have an ice cold cup of milk on standby as the perfect drink to go along with this.  

If you think this may be too much chocolate, you can swap out the Ganache for a simple glaze.  In a small mixing bowl add 2-3 tablespoons of milk.  To this you will add powdered sugar a little at a time while whisking until the mixture thickens.  It is a very quick glaze.  You can also add a touch of vanilla to the glaze for a little extra flavor. You would then drizzle it over your cake like the Ganache, but I wouldn't sprinkle the powdered sugar on the glaze.  

If you have anything you would like to add, change, or remove, then share it below.  If you have tried this one out and want to share your opinions below please do so.  You can also request me to write about almost anything.  I read every comment that goes into this blog, and I regularly check my social networks.  Feel free to contact me at any of these places, and the next article I write, might just be on your idea.  I will also give credit like I did at the beginning of this article.

As always, remember to do something good for someone else.  Pay It Forward.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Beef Stroganoff Made Easy

Beef Stroganoff may not be on the top of your family meal list, but I think it makes a great meal that should in turn be made at least every other week.  Most families that I have noticed will make the boxed dinner version, but if you were to ask them how to make it, they wouldn't know quite what goes in it.  I going to give you a very simple recipe that can be made in less than 45 minutes and tastes amazing.  Are you ready?

  • Ribeye Steak (preferred, but other beef can be substituted)
  • 1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup
  • approx. 1/2 box of Beef Broth
  • All Purpose Flour
  • Olive Oil
  • Butter
  • approx. 1 cup of Sour Cream
  • Minced Onion flakes, or fresh onion to taste
  • Fresh Mushrooms (diced) to taste (can substitute canned mushrooms, but drain first)
  • Salt + Pepper to taste
  • 1 Bad of Egg Noodles


  • Cut your Ribeye into small strips or chunks.
  • Thinly coat a sauce pan with the olive oil and about 2-3 tablespoons of butter. Your stove should go on MED - MED-HI.
  • Brown the meat in the sauce pan.
  • Add your onions and mushrooms to the pan and allow them to cook for about 10 minutes.  Both of these items are to taste.  I used about 2 tablespoons of minced onion flakes and about 1 cup of fresh mushrooms, diced.
  • Now add about 2 tablespoons of all purpose flour.  This should cause the oil and the butter to thicken up. Continue Stirring.
  • Add in the cream of mushroom soup.  Continue stirring  The contents of the pan should be thoroughly mixed together, but the stirring is to help keep the mixture from sticking to the pan.
  • Add in the beef broth.  This should thin the mixture out.  If you want it a little thinner add more broth.
  • Once it has a texture you are happy with, turn it down to warm/low, and cook your bag of egg noodles.
  • Right before you add your beef mixture to the strained noodles, add the sour cream to the beef mixture.  The amount of sour cream can also be adjusted according to preference.  I find that it adds a sharp creaminess to the meal.
  • After the sour cream, mix the beef mixture and the noodles together. Salt and pepper to taste and enjoy!
I have tried this a few times.  I have tried different meats.  Ground beef works very well, but I still prefer the small pieces of ribeye.  The ribeye tends to add more flavor from its drippings in the mix, and also has a tenderness to the meat.  I have also substituted the beef broth for the small packs of Knorr Beef Stock (here's a link if you don't know what I'm referring to: Knorr Beef Stock)  If you use these, you will have to play around with your liquids. I ended up using about 1 1/2 cups of water, but I also think the taste is worth the hassle.  I would have used it in the recipe above, but I decided to make the one above as simple as possible while still tasting great and just added my 2 cents after the fact.  Also if you find that you're not getting enough onion flavor while your cooking, but you don't want to add more onion flakes or cut more onions.  I used the amount of minced onion flakes stated in the recipe, but later added onion powder.  I like strong full flavors in my food, while others don't, which is fine.  For other that do, that's why I'm adding this at the end.  

If you have any other twists on this recipe that you would like to share, or maybe another way of doing it altogether.  Please, share it with everyone else by adding a comment below.  I'm always on the lookout for new ideas and techniques.

As always remember to do something nice for someone other than yourself.  Pay It Forward.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Guitar Lessons: G, C, D - Chords to Live By

This is a short starter video I did to share with anyone that wanted to learn how to play the guitar.  These are very basic chords that are used in many popular songs.  It's even enough to make your own song if you wanted to.  If you're learning how to play, I'm going to make the assumption that you are learning how to read Tablature (a.k.a. - tabs).  I'll "tab out" the chords below so that you can see them along with the video, or study them afterwards.  If you haven't learned how to read tabs yet, there are many great resources out there to read or watch how to read them.  YouTube would be a good starting point, and reading tabs with greatly further your playing.  So here are those chords:

                           G            C              D
e ---------|---3----|---------|---2-----|-#1-| <---Smallest String - #1
B ---------|---3----|----1----|---3-----|-#2-|
D ---------|--------|---------|---2-----|-#3-| The numbers represent the frets to hold down.
G ---------|--------|----2----|---------|-#4-| The "#" numbers are the string numbers.
A ---------|---2----|----3----|---x-----|-#5-|
E ---------|---3----|----x----|---x-----|-#6-| <---Biggest String - #6

Now for the video part:

I know personally that learning to play can get frustrating at times.  Be prepared for that.  There will be times that you want to give up, sell your guitar and anything that goes along with it, that is, if you haven't broken it yet (Don't break it!).  I have been playing for many years.  I'm not a guitar master, or anywhere close to being one.  I can play most songs that I set my mind to, and play them well.  Even in different keys or tunings.  I still get caught up on some of the easier songs and get frustrated.  If you get mad, put your guitar down and forget about it.  It's nearly impossible to learn something while your mad.  Go watch a show, catch a snack, ANYTHING but think about playing.  No matter how fast you learn, you won't become a rockstar over night.  This is something that will take time and desire.  With that in mind, take this little bit of information and run with it.  

If any other guitar players have anything to add, please do so in the comments below.  If anyone uses this information and wishes to show me what they learned, please go to YouTube and post a video response.  My YouTube channel can be reached using the tab at the top of this page.  If you just want to tell me, and everyone else, what you learned, leave a comment on here, my YouTube page, or both.

Remember to do something good for someone else, Pay It Forward.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Awesome Waffles

I know that you can go out and buy a box of frozen waffles.  I know that you can pop them in the toaster or microwave and have breakfast in a few minutes.  I also know that a made-from-scratch, home-cooked meal will beat a frozen box meal almost every time.  I wasn't much in the cooking mood this morning, but my wife was in the hungry mood, and proposed a waffle breakfast.  I hadn't made them in a while and the idea seemed great.  I like some homemade waffles.  I dug through my recipes and found one that stood out to me, and I want to share it with everyone.  I believe that this recipe incorporates the fluffiness that makes it palatable.  It has a good buttery flavor, but not overbearing.  And the outside of it has a slightly crispy texture that just begs you to keep eating.  I topped mine off with a little more butter and filled each delicious square with maple syrup.  My wife took the same route, but added some powdered sugar.  She was in search of some strawberries, but our daughter beat her to them.

Now that I've hopefully got your brain thinking food, and your mouth watering, are you ready to find out how I made them?  Well tune in next time to find out...  I'm not that mean.  Okay, here we go!


  • 2 cups AP flour (can be adjusted for lighter or denser waffles)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup whole milk (preferred, but can be substituted)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons of butter - soft/melted
  • 2 eggs - beaten
  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • I try to have my ingredients separated and ready to add.  I also try to keep my blender going as I add ingredients.  I feel it incorporates more air into the mix and makes them a little fluffier.  You don't have to do this.  It doesn't have that much effect of the final product.  It's just personal preference.  Whisking and blending wet/dry ingredients works just as well.
  • With that said, I start off with the eggs and beat them with a hand blender.
  • Next I add the buttermilk followed by the whole milk while keeping the blender going.
  • Now it's time to add the butter.  If it's soft butter, beat it until there are only tiny pieces of butter are visible.  If it's melted, just add it in slowly and mix completely.
  • Now we can start adding the dry ingredients.  I start with the small amounts and work my way up.  So I add the salt.
  • Next in the mix are the baking soda, baking powder, and sugar.
  • Finally, it's time to add the flour.  Above I mentioned that this can be adjusted for personal preference.  I would say that if you like very light waffles add flour until the mixture has a consistency of white school glue. If you like heavier waffles you'll probably aim more for a thicker "white gravy" consistency.  I believe 2 cups is about right down the middle.
  • Ladle approximately 1/2 cup of mix into your waffle maker.  I usually stop adding mix when it is about 1 - 1 1/2 inches away from the edges.  That allows the lid to close, and the mixture to finish spreading out and rise.
As with any recipe this can be tweaked to suit the individual.  By all means change this however you deem necessary.  You should be made happy by making and eating the food you prepare.

After adding my extra pads of butter on top to melt in and the syrup, I devoured my plates contents trying to enjoy every second of it.  I admit that I am a food lover from top to bottom.  I believe that is the first step in creating great food.  If you give 100% and love it 100% it will show in the taste most of the time.  If you doubt that, visit one of your regular hangouts when the cook is having a bad day and doesn't want to be there.  Chances are you will taste a difference.

If you try this recipe, let everyone know how it turned out below in the comments.  Let us know if you would change something or any variations you liked.

As always, remember to do something good for someone else, Pay It Forward.