Baking with my Daughter: Dark Chocolate Ganache Tart

IMG_1129.JPGIt’s 11:22pm and my two year old is currently eating this “chocolate pie”. She napped until 6pm so I knew there was a good chance she would be up late tonight. She had quite an unhappy morning accompanied by a fever, so a second nap was necessary. Luckily her evening was much happier.IMG_1130.JPGThis morning before the shit hit the fan, we made this tart together. Well, we started it, then she got super “cranky” and demanded a nap so I ended up finishing it alone after she was asleep. She was pretty excited to see me top it with berries and whipped cream when she woke up. Kids are crazy and scary and wonderful and terrifying all at the same time. When something is wrong and you don’t know what, it’s almost painful. And for us there’s always that nagging fear in the back of our heads that it’s something more. Luckily this kid recovers quickly. Hopefully there’s no trace left tomorrow of whatever it was today, and she’s back to her happy sweet self. If not, we’ll just feed her “pie” for breakfast and all will be right in the world.IMG_1131.JPGDark Chocolate Ganache Tart
Recipe adapted slightly from the Joy the Baker Cookbook


For the crust:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold
1 large egg yolk, beaten

For the ganache:
8 oz dark chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temp, cut in half

For the topping:
1 cup heavy cream
3 tbs powdered sugar
1 cup fresh raspberries
1/2 cup fresh blackberries, cut in half


To make the crust:
1. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, and salt. Cut in butter with fingers until well incorporated. Some butter chunks will be the size of small pebbles, others will resemble oatmeal flakes. Once incorporated, add the egg yolk and bring mixture together with a fork. Dump mixture into a 9 inch tart pan (or 9 inch spring form pan) and press the crust into the sides and bottom with your fingers. Place in freezer for about an hour.

To make ganache:
2. Place chopped up chocolate in a medium sized bowl. In a small saucepan over medium low heat to a very low simmer. Pour half of cream on top of chocolate and let stand for about a minute, then whisk together. Add in the rest of the milk and butter. Stir until butter is melted. Place in the fridge and stir every 10 minutes until it sets up a little bit.
3. Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 350ºF. Butter a piece of foil and place butter side down on top of chilled tart. Bake for 20 minutes, then take foil off and bake for another 15, or until golden brown.
Allow tart to cool completely before filling with ganache.

To make topping:
3. In a medium bowl, whip together heavy cream and sugar until soft peaks form. Spread chocolate ganache in tart, then top with whipped cream and berries. Serve immediately. (Can stay in fridge for 3 days)

Baking with my Daughter: Blueberry Pancake Muffins

IMG_1121.JPGThese should be called disappearing Blueberry Pancake Muffins. We made them in the morning for breakfast and by bedtime I had to make another batch. They come out of the oven soft and tender inside and slightly crisp on top. Then you poke the holes and drizzle in maple syrup and it’s all over. My husband ate waayyyy too many of these this weekend.IMG_1122.JPGWe spent part of our weekend at Comic Con, which for the first time ever, made its way to snowy Wisconsin. At first there was lots of waiting in line, which can be slightly intimidating with a two year old. Luckily she did awesome. Upon entering the venue she may have been a bit overwhelmed, as there were toys everywhere and she wanted one asap. Once we picked one out she was good to go. She loved the comics she got and spent a long time just sitting on the sidelines reading every one out loud. It was a super fun way to spend a Saturday, so much so we began mulling over the possibility of making a trip to Chicago some day for another one. Yes friends, we are total nerds and proud of it.IMG_1120.JPGShe ate her muffins for breakfast the next day and immediately demanded to go play with all of her new toys and books from Comic Con. She also ate approximately 12 ounces of frozen blueberries in the baking process. And a few handfuls of sugar. I highly recommended make two batches of these, they go way to fast around here.

Blueberry Pancake Muffins

Recipe from Homemade Decadence by Joy the Baker


For the muffins:
1/3 cup whole milk
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)

For the maple glaze:
3/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice


1. Put a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a 12-cup standard muffin pan with paper or foil liners.

2. For the muffins, in a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, egg yolk, maple syrup, and vanilla. Add the butter and stir well.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the milk mixture and stir gently. Fold in the blueberries. Divide the batter among the prepared muffin cups.

4. Bake until golden and a wooden pick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, 18-20 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, for the maple glaze, in a small saucepan set over low heat, combine the maple syrup and lemon juice. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced to a thick (thicker than maple syrup) syrup, about 12 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.

6. When the muffins are out of the oven and cool enough to handle, poke a few holes in each muffin top with a toothpick and drizzle a few spoonfuls of the glaze over each muffin. The muffins will keep for up to 2 days on the counter.

Baking with my Daughter: Chocolate Raspberry Cake

IMG_1116.JPGHer requests for baking have been pretty similar. It’s clear she likes chocolate, chocolate and berries. So I thought I would make a little heart themed cake for my heart baby.IMG_1117.JPGFebruary 7th is the start of Congenital Heart Defect awareness week and I was reminded how much a part of my life that is. Two people in a support group I am in for Ebsteins anomaly are fighting for their lives right now, one only 7 weeks old, the other an adult, who just had a baby of her own who also has Ebsteins. Logging in and seeing prayer requests for two people within minutes is a bit unnerving. In 2009 there were approximately 27,000 CHD related hospital stays totaling 1.5 billion dollars. I can only imagine what that number is today. Before insurance our daughters post birth stay cost roughly 1 million dollars. And she didn’t even have surgery. In the United States, twice as many children die from congenital heart defects each year than from all forms of childhood cancer combined, yet funding for pediatric cancer research is five times higher than funding for CHD. There is simply not enough money to do the research needed. People I’ve encountered seem to mistakenly believe heart defects are the result of negligence during pregnancy. The truth is in most cases there’s no know cause for CHD. We talk to her about her heart a lot, not necessarily about her defect (although she knows she has “epseen omoly” as she calls it). She listens to her heart with a stethoscope, takes her own pulse ox and knows that she takes Aspirin and Enalopril. She’s a health savvy two year old. CHD is an every day part of our lives, so much so that it seems normal, and we even forget about it.

She also knows that she likes cake. And cupcakes. And pie. She’s already picked a recipe for this weekend. And as long as she’s interested, we’ll keep baking together.

*I swear I feed this child a lot of healthy food too, it’s just that the baked goods are so pretty*IMG_1118.JPG
Chocolate Raspberry Cake

Adapted from Ina Garten


For the cake:
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee

For the frosting:
1 cup or 2 sticks unsalted butter
2 cups confectioners sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
2 tablespoons milk

For the filling:
1/2 cup raspberry jam
8 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup or 1 stick of unsalted butter, softened
2 cups confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. For the cake: Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter two 8-by-2-inch round cake pans and line them with parchment; butter the paper. Dust the pans with flour, tapping out any excess.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle, mix the flour with the sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt at low speed. In a bowl, whisk the buttermilk with the oil, eggs and vanilla. Slowly beat the buttermilk mixture into the dry ingredients until just incorporated, then slowly beat in the hot coffee until fully incorporated.

3. Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Bake for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then invert the cakes onto a rack to cool. Peel off the parchment. Cut each cake horizontally so that you have four layers total.

4. Make the frosting: In a microwave-safe bowl, heat the chocolate at high power in 30-second intervals, stirring, until most of the chocolate is melted. Stir until completely melted, then set aside to cool.

5. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter at medium speed until pale and fluffy. At low speed, slowly beat in the confectioners’ sugar, about 1 minute. Slowly beat in the milk.

6. Make the filling: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter and cream cheese at medium speed until pale and fluffy. At low speed, slowly beat in the confectioners’ sugar, about 1 minute. Add vanilla extract.

7. Set a cake layer on a plate with the flat side facing up. Evenly spread one-half of the cream cheese frosting over the cake to the edge. Top with the second cake layer, rounded side up. Pipe chocolate frosting around the edge to make a rim. Fill center with raspberry jam. Top with next cake layer. Spread the remaining cream cheese frosting over the layer. Top with the last cake layer. Spread the chocolate frosting over the top and side of the cake. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before slicing.

So big, so fast

IMG_1112.JPGI am so enamored with this child lately. She seems to be growing by leaps and bounds in a 24 hours span, learning new things, becoming more capable, more intelligent with every second, every hour. Spending time with her has become even more enjoyable than I thought possible. It makes me wonder, is it like this for all parents? Are they all this in love with being a parent? With this amazing child in their life? Somehow I think not, and that makes me sad. I feel like everyone should get to experience this magic that I feel, this love. Maybe it’s the hard road we traveled at the beginning (you can read more about that here, here and here). Maybe it’s knowing that she’s so special, and just a bit more fragile than others. Then again, she also happens to be, quite possibly the strongest woman I’ve ever met, and she’s only two.

Today she peeled her own orange. We were at playgroup (school as we call it), and I gave her an orange while I scooped out rice into her bowl. The next thing I knew, she had the entire thing peeled, no coaching, no hinting, and no directing. All on her own. And then all of the other kids were peeling their oranges too, with the help of their mothers.

She worked on a craft project, first at school, then at home for almost two hours. I couldn’t believe how she tried to color within the lines of the shapes I drew for her, and sat patiently using a glue stick gluing hearts and stars to paper over and over again.

Her vocabulary is exploding by the minute. She sings the lyrics to every song she likes (which could be questionable considering her favorite musician, without question, is Lady Gaga), she expresses her emotions “Mama, happy” or “Mama, cranky”. She tells me “Still love Rocky” every single time I grumble while cleaning up dog pee off of the floor. She can correctly name numerous different dog breeds. She reads her books to herself out loud, having memorized the stories or just making them up as she goes along. She demands to type daily. She sits down at the computer and correctly types mama, papa and her name. It’s insane people.

She amazes me. Every day. Even when she’s “cranky”.