My Foray Into Food Storage

A regular gal learning about Food Storage, Home Cooking, Canning, Gardening, and more!


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Chocolate Ganache: Epic Fail To Epic Save

Have I ever mentioned that I like to improvise when cooking?  Sometimes improvisation results in wonderful creations.  Other times, especially when working with temperamental ingredients, improvisation results in a big, yucky mess.  (Isn’t that the story of my life?!)

 

Last Saturday, I decided to make some chocolate truffles filled with chocolate ganache.  I’ve worked with chocolate before.  I make fudge almost every year and have been doing it for about a decade.  I felt pretty confident that I could follow the simple instructions for chocolate ganache.  I was wrong!  Very wrong!

 

“How wrong?” you ask.  Well, I made a tiny mistake and my ganache was a tiny bit grainy.  Just a tad bit.  I decided to “fix” it, and I ended up with this.

 

That is not fixed!

That is not fixed!

 

For you to truly appreciate my experience, I’m going to show you in a photo step-by-step how my hubris caused my epic fail.

 

I started with some simple ingredients. I knew that by using chocolate chips (which are already tempered) it would be a touch trickier, but how hard could it be?

I started with some simple ingredients. I knew that by using chocolate chips (which are already tempered) it would be a touch trickier, but how hard could it be?

 

I set up a double boiler by putting a bowl over a pot of water on the stove. I made sure that there was a pretty tight fit so that the steam didn't cause the chocolate to "seize." I turned the heat on medium (which I now realize was too hot), and let the chocolate melt.

I set up a double boiler by putting a bowl over a pot of water on the stove. I made sure that there was a pretty tight fit so that the steam didn’t cause the chocolate to “seize.” I turned the heat on medium (which I now realize was too hot), and let the chocolate melt.

 

Isn't that pretty? No graininess, no seizing, just beautiful, melting chocolate.

Isn’t that pretty? No graininess, no seizing, just beautiful, melting chocolate.

 

I added my cream (which I realize now I should have heated)...

I added my cream (which I realize now I should have heated first and then added the chocolate.  I guess I should read all of the instructions before I begin, huh?)…

 

It didn't incorporate as well as I thought it would.

It didn’t incorporate as well as I thought it would.

 

I kept whisking and it finally came together, but it was a touch grainy. I consulted the internet about how I can "save" ganache once this happens.

I kept whisking and it finally came together, but it was a touch grainy. I consulted the internet about how I can “save” ganache once this happens.

 

Those tips didn't work. In fact, it got worse!

Those tips didn’t work. In fact, it got worse!

 

What was I going to do?  I didn’t want to waste perfectly good chocolate!  Thankfully, I found one website which explained that once your chocolate ganache is gone, it’s gone.  BUT… you can use it in other things, like cookies.  So I whipped up a basic oatmeal cookie recipe and spread it in a pyrex pan, like this…

 

IMG_0155

 

I spread the chocolate mess over the top.

I spread the chocolate mess over the top.

 

I spread the remaining cookie dough over the top and let it mix a bit with the chocolate. Then I put it in a 350 degree F oven for 20 minutes.

I spread the remaining cookie dough over the top and let it mix a bit with the chocolate. Then I put it in a 350 degree F oven for 20 minutes.

 

After 20 minutes, they were browning, so I removed them from the oven. They probably could have gone for another few minutes, but I like my cookies chewy.

After 20 minutes, they were browning, so I removed them from the oven. They probably could have gone for another few minutes, but I like my cookies chewy.

 

And here they are! They were delicious, too!

And here they are! They were delicious, too!

 

I might have to mess up some chocolate ganache again and make these cookies!

 

Have you ever had an epic fail or an epic save?  I’d love to hear about it!

 

Laurel Laurie Staten Nguyen Newhall, CA


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Who Knew Lemon Bars Were So Simple To Make?

Before I begin, a quick reminder: Today’s the last day to enter my May giveaway.  Click on this link to enter.

 

I work with the young women ages 12-18 at church, and, tonight, we’re having a special get together requiring yummy, dessert “finger foods.”  While I’m not sure if lemon bars qualify as “finger foods,” I don’t think anyone will complain.  I found this recipe online several years ago and added one simple thing (lemon zest) to make them truly special.  Here’s the recipe.

 

Super Delicious Lemon Bars!

Super Delicious Lemon Bars!

 

Lemon Bars

Adapted from a recipe by Patty Schenck found here

 

Crust

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, softened

 

Filling

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Juice of 2 lemons (6 tablespoons, can use bottled lemon juice)

4 eggs

zest from lemons, optional

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Combine 2 cups flour, 1/2 cup sugar, and the butter.  Mix until well combined.  The mixture may be crumbly, but that’s okay.  Press the crust into an ungreased 9×13 pan.  Bake in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Whisk together 1 1/2 cup sugar and 1/4 cup flour.  Add lemon juice, eggs, and lemon zest, then whisk to combine.  Pour over hot crust and bake in preheated oven for an additional 20 minutes.  Let cool completely in pan before cutting, as the filling will be quite soft when hot.  Don’t worry!  It will firm up nicely as it cools.  Top with powdered sugar if desired.  You may also substitute lime juice and zest.

 

Here’s my photo step-by-step.

 

Gather your ingredients.  I didn't have two lemons, so I substituted bottled lemon juice for the additional lemon juice needed.

Gather your ingredients. I didn’t have two lemons, so I substituted bottled lemon juice for the additional lemon juice needed.

 

First, I preheated my oven to 350 degrees F, then I put 2 cups of flour, 1/2 cup of sugar and 2 sticks of butter in a mixing bowl.

First, I preheated my oven to 350 degrees F, then I put 2 cups of flour, 1/2 cup of sugar and 2 sticks of butter in a mixing bowl.

 

Using a hand mixer, I mixed the ingredients together until the flour and sugar were incorporated into the butter.  The texture is a bit crumbly, but that's exactly how it should be.

Using a hand mixer, I mixed the ingredients together until the flour and sugar were incorporated into the butter. The texture is a bit crumbly, but that’s exactly how it should be.

 

I pressed the crust mixture into a 9x13 pan.  TIP: Rather than use a spoon, I put a little plastic wrap around my fingers and use my hands to press the dough into the pan.  I use the plastic wrap, so the dough doesn't stick to my hands.

I pressed the crust mixture into a 9×13 pan. TIP: Rather than use a spoon, I put a little plastic wrap around my fingers and use my hands to press the dough into the pan. I use the plastic wrap, so the dough doesn’t stick to my hands.

 

See?  You can see where I used my fingers to press it into the pan, but no matter.  The crust is fairly uniform and will bake evenly.

See? You can see where I used my fingers to press it into the pan, but no matter. The crust is fairly uniform and will bake evenly.  I popped it into my preheated 350 degree F oven for 20 minutes.  You may need more or less time depending on your oven.

 

While the crust was baking, I used my Microplane grater to zest my lemon.  I also juiced it and measured out the additional lemon juice needed from my bottled lemon juice.

While the crust was baking, I used my Microplane grater to zest my lemon. I also juiced it and measured out the additional lemon juice needed from my bottled lemon juice.

 

Next, using a whisk, I mixed together 1 1/2 cups of sugar and 1/4 cup of flour.

Next, using a whisk, I mixed together 1 1/2 cups of sugar and 1/4 cup of flour.

 

Then I added the eggs, lemon juice, and lemon zest and, using the whisk, I mixed until everything was well incorporated...

Then I added the eggs, lemon juice, and lemon zest and, using the whisk, I mixed until everything was well incorporated…

 

Like this.

Like this.

 

Soon after I mixed the filling, the crust was done baking.  See how it's brown around the edges and golden brown in the center?  It's perfect!

Soon after I mixed the filling, the crust was done baking. See how it’s brown around the edges and golden brown in the center? It’s perfect!

 

I gave the filling mix one good stir with the whisk, then gently poured the filling over the hot crust.  I put it back into the oven for 20 minutes.

I gave the filling mix one good stir with the whisk, then gently poured the filling over the hot crust. I put it back into the oven for 20 minutes.

 

I rotated it once during baking, because my oven has some hot spots.

I rotated it once during baking, because my oven has some hot spots.

 

I sprinkled on some powdered sugar.

I sprinkled on some powdered sugar.

 

Then I cut them into 1 1/2 inch squares.  They sure are yummy!  Sweet and tart all in one little bite.  YUM!

Then I cut them into 1 1/2 inch squares. They sure are yummy! Sweet and tart all in one little bite. YUM!

 

Who knew 5 ingredients could taste so good? Much better than the boxed kind!

What’s your favorite simple recipe?


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Tried Something New – Ezekiel Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies

Who doesn’t love a good chocolate chip cookie?  Not me.  I love ’em!  What’s the problem?  There are very few redeeming qualities in chocolate chip cookies (other than that they’re delicious).  They’re not exactly health food, are they?  With the holiday weekend upon us, I decided to make some cookies, since everyone is home.  But I didn’t want to make the same, plain old chocolate chip cookies.  I decided to experiment with my Ezekiel mix and three different kinds of chocolate chips. (Not sure what Ezekiel Mix is? Read about it here and here.)  This is what I came up with.

 

Ezekiel Mix Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ezekiel Mix Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies

 

Ezekiel Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies

Adapted from a recipe by Ghirardelli

 

1 cup salted butter, softened

1 1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon molasses (you can substitute 3/4 cup of the sugar and the molasses for brown sugar. See how to make your own brown sugar here.)

1 tablespoon vanilla extract (real is better!)

2 large eggs

3 cups chocolate chips (I used an even mix of white chocolate, semi-sweet, and 60% cacao chips)

1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup Ezekiel flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

 

In a large mixing bowl, combine butter, sugars, and molasses.  Stir on medium until creamy.  Add vanilla and eggs, one at a time, and mix on low until combined.  Add salt, baking soda, and flours.  Stir on low until flour is incorporated.  Then add chocolate chips and mix until the chips are evenly distributed in the dough.  Put cookie dough into refrigerator while preheating your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  When oven is ready, remove cookie dough from oven, form cookies, and place them on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake in preheated oven for 7-10 minutes or until to desired doneness.  Allow to sit on cookie sheet for a few minutes after removing from the oven, then transfer to a cooling rack.

 

Here’s my photo step-by-step.

 

All ingredients assembled, except for the real vanilla extract. Don't forget it! It makes these cookies extra delicious!

All ingredients assembled, except for the real vanilla extract. Don’t forget it! It makes these cookies extra delicious!

 

Mix together butter, sugar, and molasses. If you prefer, or if you don't have molasses, substitute 3/4 cup of the sugar and molasses for brown sugar. Basically, I'm making my own molasses, but I'm letting the mixer do the work. Want to learn how to make it yourself? Check out my tutorial here.

Mix together butter, sugar, and molasses. If you prefer, or if you don’t have molasses, substitute 3/4 cup of the sugar and molasses for brown sugar. Basically, I’m making my own molasses, but I’m letting the mixer do the work. Want to learn how to make it yourself? Check out my tutorial here.

 

Next. I added the eggs and vanilla extract.

Next. I added the eggs and vanilla extract, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

 

When the eggs and vanilla were incorporated, I added the salt, baking soda, all-purpose flour, and Ezekiel flour. You can see it on the right. It's a tad bit darker than the all-purpose flour.

When the eggs and vanilla were incorporated, I added the salt, baking soda, all-purpose flour, and Ezekiel flour. You can see it on the right. It’s a tad bit darker than the all-purpose flour.

 

Finally, I added the chocolate chips. I added about 1 cup of each kind of chocolate chips: white chocolate chips, semi-sweet chips, and 60% cacao chips.

Finally, I added the chocolate chips. I added about 1 cup of each kind of chocolate chips: white chocolate chips, semi-sweet chips, and 60% cacao chips.

 

When the chips were well combined with the dough, I removed the bowl from my mixer and popped it into the fridge while I preheated my oven. Could I have preheated my oven before I started making the cookies? Certainly! But I've found that refrigerating the dough just a bit before baking the cookies helps the cookies hold their shape better when baking them.

When the chips were well combined with the dough, I removed the bowl from my mixer and popped it into the fridge while I preheated my oven. Could I have preheated my oven before I started making the cookies? Certainly! But I’ve found that refrigerating the dough just a bit before baking the cookies helps the cookies hold their shape better when baking them.

 

When the oven was hot and ready, I used a 2 tablespoon scoop to form my cookies and placed them on an ungreased cookie sheet. Then I put them in the oven for about 9 minutes until they were done.

When the oven was hot and ready, I used a 2 tablespoon scoop to form my cookies and placed them on an ungreased cookie sheet. Then I put them in the oven for about 9 minutes until they were done.

 

I rotated the pan once during cooking to ensure the cookies baked evenly, and removed it when the cookies looked just a tad bit underdone. I left them on the cookie sheet to finish baking.

I rotated the pan once during cooking to ensure the cookies baked evenly, and removed it when the cookies looked just a tad bit underdone. I left them on the cookie sheet to finish baking.

 

This finished baking the cookies so they are just as I like them: chewy centers with crisp edges!

This finished baking the cookies so they are just as I like them: chewy centers with crisp edges!

 

These were a bit hit! My kids (who are notoriously picky when it comes to asking them to eat "healthier" food) loved them. They said they couldn't taste the Ezekiel flour. I could, and I liked it. It added a little more depth to the flavor. Next time, I may back off the sugar just a bit, because I think the beans in the Ezekiel mix add a certain sweetness making some of the sugar unnecessary.

These were a bit hit! My kids (who are notoriously picky when it comes to asking them to eat “healthier” food) loved them. They said they couldn’t taste the Ezekiel flour. I could, and I liked it. It added a little more depth to the flavor. Next time, I may back off the sugar just a bit, because I think the beans in the Ezekiel mix add a certain sweetness making some of the sugar unnecessary.

 

So I made my cookies a tad bit healthier with some Ezekiel flour, and my kids loved them.  Win-win for me and my family!

 

How do you make unhealthy treats a little (or a lot) healthier?

 

Laurel Laurie Staten Nguyen Newhall, CA