SMS: Chocolate Strawberry Truffle Torte

I am very excited to be hosting this week’s Sweet Melissa Sundays recipe for the Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Torte!  I joined this great group a few months ago, when they were already almost halfway through the book.  I missed out on some great recipes, but was so excited to see this one hadn’t been made yet.  As soon as it was my turn to choose a recipe, I knew this is the one I would pick.  I love chocolate.  I love raspberries.  I love chocolate and raspberries together.  This just HAD to be good! 

However, my attempt for chocolate raspberry goodness was thwarted this morning.  I bought my raspberries yesterday evening to ready myself to get started this morning.  I opened my raspberries and found mold on almost every single one.  At least I bought two containers, certainly BOTH couldn’t be moldy.  But the second one was too.  I admit I cried (damn pregnancy hormones).  Then, I remembered my other favorite chocolate/fruit combination…chocolate covered strawberries!!  And we had strawberries in the house (we always have them…the toddler could eat an entire container in one sitting!).  I did cut this recipe in half as I wasn’t sure the husband would enjoy this, and I’m not feeling all that great lately (damn pregnancy hormones!) and made it in my adorable 4″ springform pan.  Overall, this is a simple recipe to throw together.  Melt chocolate and butter together, whip the heck out of some eggs, mix it all up, add strawberries in the middle, bake, and refrigerate!  The only other substitution I made was to use 1/2 tsp of orange extract for the rum…I thought we had rum in the house, but sadly, we did not.

The final result?  YUM!  This is very, very chocolatey, but very, very delicious.  As I expected, the husband wasn’t a huge fan (he’s more of a milk or white chocolate kind of guy), but that’s okay, more for me!  It really did taste like a chocolate covered strawberry.  Yummy.  I kind of laughed at my pictures though…doesn’t it look like a hamburger cooked to medium-ish?  You must try this!  I posted the recipe below, but you can also find it on pages 206-207 of Melissa Murphy’s fabulous The Sweet Melissa Baking Book.  Melissa does suggest serving this with her Raspberry Sauce (on page 176) for some extra indulgence.  I did not make the sauce, but will post the recipe for that one as well.  Don’t forget to check out how the other bakers did this week!  Thanks for baking with me this week!

Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Torte 

8 ounces best-quality bittersweet (64-68%) chocolate
8 Tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter
3 Tbsp rum (I used 1 tsp orange extract)
3 large eggs
1/2 dry pint fresh raspberries (I used strawberries)
1 Tbsp best-quality unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder, for sprinkling

BEFORE YOU START

Position a rack in the center of your oven.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Turn an 8-inch springform pan upside down and cover the bottom and sides with aluminum foil.  The foil should come up at least 2 inches on all sides, so the water from the water bath will not leak through.  Lightly butter the inside bottom and sides of the springform pan.  Line the bottom with an 8-inch round of parchment paper.

  1. In the top of a double boiler set over simmering, not boiling, water, gently melt the chocolate with the butter, stirring until smooth.  Heat until it is just melted; don’t let it get too hot.  When the chocolate is fully melted, stir in the rum.
  2. In an electric mixer bowl set over a pot of simmering, not boiling, water, heat the eggs while stirring unti just warm to the touch.  Remove from the heat. 
  3. In the electric mixer fitted with the whip attachment, beat the eggs until tripled in volume, or when they reach soft peaks.
  4. Fold half of the eggs into the chocolate mixture until almost incorporated.  Fold in the remaining eggs until just blended but with no streaks remaining.
  5. Pour half of the batter into the prepared springform pan.  Scatter the fresh raspberries evenly over the batter, and then pour the remaining batter over the berries.  Smooth with a spatula.
  6. Place the springform pan in a roasting pan large enough to hold it.  Fill the roasting pan with hot water until it reaches halfway up the sides of the springform pan.  Bake uncovered for 5 minutes.  Cover the pan with aluminum foil or an upside-down cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes more.  Remove to a wire rack, uncover the pan, and cool in the water bath for 1 hour.
  7. Remove the pan from the water bath.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until very firm, about 3 1/2 hours.
  8. Using a sharp knife, carefully loosen the cake from the edges of the pan.  Release the springform ring to unmold the cake.  To release the bottom, invert the cake onto a flat plate lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil and remove the bottom and the parchment round.  Turn the cake right side up onto a serving plate and dust with sifted cocoa powder.  Keep refrigerated until serving.

Slice with a hot knife and serve.  The torte keeps tightly wrapped in plastic wrap in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Raspberry Sauce

2 (12-ounce) packages frozen unsweetened raspberries, thawed, or 2 1/2 dry pints fresh
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

  1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir together the raspberries, sugar, and lemon juice until it comes to a simmer.  Simmer for 2 minutes.  Remove from the heat and let cool briefly.
  2. In a food processor fitted with the metal blade or a blender, pulse the raspberry mixture until smooth.   Strain the mixture into a resealable conatiner and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Raspberry sauce will keep refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days, or frozen for up to 1 month.  Shake well before serving.

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SMS: Toasted Almond Lemon Bars

This week’s Sweet Melissa Sundays recipe for Toasted Almond Lemon Bars was chosen by Rebecca of the Indecisive Baker.  Check out her blog for the recipe, as well as some other great photos and recipes!  You can also find the recipe on pages 78-79 of The Sweet Melissa Baking Book.

If I had to choose my favorite flavor, I would definitely choose lemon.  It works great in savory and sweet dishes, and I try to use it as often as I can.  Lemon bars are a big favorite here in The Rookie Baker house, so I was so excited about this week’s recipe!  I actually made lemon bars once before, and they turned out awful!  It was the very first recipe I ever made from scratch, not long after I graduated from college.  I remember being so excited to make these out of the very first cookbook I ever bought.  Not sure what I did wrong, but they were inedible!  I am glad to say that this recipe turned out much, much better!  These are probably the best lemon bars I’ve ever tasted.  The crust is really unbelievable…the toasted almonds really take it over the edge.  I will most definitely make these again, and again, and again, whenever I have a lemon bar craving!  Thanks for choosing such a great recipe that allowed me to redeem myself in the lemon bar department, Rebecca!!

You can check out how the other bakers did this week here.  Up next week…Chocolate Peppermint Meringues…one of my favorite flavor combinations!

SMS: Chocolate Walnut Brownies

This week’s Sweet Melissa Sundays recipe for Chocolate Walnut Brownies was chosen by Tiffany of A Spoonful and a Heap.  You can get this recipe from her blog, along with excellent step by step photos on how to make these brownies.  You can also find the recipe on pages 82-83 of The Sweet Melissa Baking Book.

The husband and I both have a huge sweet tooth, and accordingly, love dessert; however, we tend to gravitate toward different things.  Brownies (especially ones with nuts) are the one dessert that we can both demolish in no time flat, so I was very excited to make these.  We’ve been known to eat an entire 9×9 pan of brownies in one day (which is why I don’t make them very often).  I have never made homemade brownies before, and, afte making these, I probably never will again.  These brownies were the perfect balance of fudgy and cakey, which is exactly how we like them here.  They were so simple to make too!  I made these last night since the husband left for Phoenix this morning, and as of late last night, we had already eaten half of the pan!  If you’re a brownie lover like I am, give these a try!

I promise these taste better than the picture looks…the husband is not patient when it comes to brownies, so we cut these before they were compeltely cool.

To see how the other SMS bakers did this week, check out their posts here.  Next week’s recipe is for Toasted Almond Lemon Bars, another dessert that goes quickly in The Rookie Baker household.  Can’t wait for that one!!

SMS: Sour Cherry and Almond Biscotti

This week’s Sweet Melissa Sundays recipe for Sour Cherry and Almond Biscotti was chosen by Tracey from Made by Tray-Tray.  You can check out her site for the recipe, along with an excellent tutorial on how to make this biscotti, which was immensley helpful to me as I made this last night!  You can also find the recipe on pages 72-73 of The Sweet Melissa Baking Book.

Biscotti is yet another baked good that I’ve never made, and only eaten a handful of times.  I wasn’t sure if I was going to like this.  My only experience with biscotti was the stuff at Starbucks (yuck) or the big container you can get from Sam’s Club or Costco (which is usually the only uneaten snack at my office!).  But, I figured I would give this a try, and you really can’t beat the combination of cherries and almonds.  I am happy to report that I’m now a biscotti lover thanks to this recipe!  I really enjoyed the flavor, and the crunch despite my love of chewy cookies.  The husband really loved them too.  The recipe came together very easily, and the longest part was letting the dough chill in the refrigerator and the baking time.  My only issue was working with the dough after it sat in the refrigerator.  It was still very sticky and I had to add quite a bit of flour in order to shape it.  I managed to get it to work with a little bit of love.  These will definitely make another appearance in our house!

To see how the other bakers did this week, check out the other posts here.  Up next week…Chocolate Walnut Brownies.  YUM!!

SMS: Pistachio Linzer Thumbprints

This week’s recipe for Sweet Melissa Sundays was for Pistachio Linzer Thumbprints and was hosted by Tracey of Tracey’s Culinary Adventures.  Check out her blog for this recipe, as well as some other great recipes and pictures!

In almost 30 years, the only pistachio I’ve had was in a muffin I bought in the cafeteria of my first job out of college.  I thought I had picked up a blueberry muffin.  No breakfast for me that morning…I took one bite and promptly spit it in the garbage.  So, when I saw this week’s recipe, I wasn’t overly excited about trying it.  However, Melissa suggests using hazelnuts in place of the pistachios.  I thought, GREAT, I’ll just buy hazelnuts!  I searched four different stores and could not find hazelnuts anywhere.  Refusing to be defeated, I opted to suck it up and make this with pistachios, and man, am I glad I did! 

Due to time constraints (and a peacefully sleeping toddler…not something that has happened much this week!), I did not roll the cookies in the egg whites and chopped pistachios (I wasn’t risking waking up the toddler by running the mini chopper), and I’m glad that I didn’t as I think it would have been too much pistachio for me.  We really enjoyed these cookies and I think they would be great as a Christmas cookie or other special occasion cookie. 

To see how the other SMS bakers did this week, check out the blogroll here.

SMS: Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Caramel Rum-Raisin Sauce

This week’s Sweet Melissa Sundays recipe was for Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Caramel Rum-Raisin Sauce and was chosen by Carmen of Baking is my Zen.  Check out her blog for a fantastic tutorial on how to make this great dessert!  She had a great idea of test running this recipe as a possible dessert for Thanksgiving. 

I have never eaten bread pudding of any kind before, and to be honest, it never really sounded appealing to me.  One of the reasons I started this blog and joined this group was to expand my horizons, and am I ever glad I did!  This was great!  I didn’t have a chance to make the caramel rum-raisin sauce, and I can only imagine how much better this would have been with the sauce.  The only other change I made was to use challah bread instead of brioche…it was a miracle I found the challah bread in this town, and no one had even heard of brioche before.  If you’re looking for a recipe to impress the in-laws for Thanksgiving this year, this would be a good one!

To see how the other SMS bakers did this week, check out their blogs here.

SMS: Orange Blueberry Muffins with Pecan Crumble

First, I want to say Happy Mother’s Day to all of the moms out there!  I hope everyone had as fabulous a day as I did. The husband and toddler spoiled me rotten.  It was wonderful 🙂

This is my first week participating in the Sweet Melissa Sundays baking group.  The idea of the group is to bake every recipe in The Sweet Melissa Baking Book and share our thoughts and mouth-watering pictures.  I only wish I had joined at the beginning…I missed some great recipes, although I do plan to go back and try quite a few.  I’m hoping this challenge will inspire me to bake more often, and bake things outside of my comfort zone of basic cookies and boxed cake mixes. 

On to the recipe…this week’s recipe was for Orange Blueberry Muffins with Pecan Crumble and was chosen by Chaya of My Sweet and Savory.  All I can say is wow.  The muffins themselves are delicious with plenty of blueberries and a nice orange flavor as well.  They are taken to a whole new level of delicious with the addition of the pecan crumble.  Serioulsy yummy.  I almost cut back on the orange zest as the husband seemed skeptical about the flavor combination, but decided to follow the recipe as written.  Good thing I did, because the first thing he said after taking a bite was, “Damn, these are good!”  Muisc to my ears.  To get the recipe, check out Chaya’s fantastic blog, or better yet, buy the book!  To see how the other SMS bakers did this week, check out their blogs here