Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Fitness Friday Valentine's Day!!!

I'm taking advantage of Valentine's Day and not even tracking food intake today....we'll see how the scale appreciate that tomorrow!  But I do intend to get a fair amount of exercise at our church's Valentine's dance tonight :)

A couple of tips to keep on my Friday Fitness theme with Valentine's---look for substitutions!  We celebrated last night by eating at Red Robin.  They have endless fries with their burgers but you can also choose endless steamed broccoli!  Don't want to miss out on the fabulous steak fries they have?  Ask the waiter if they can alternate your choice or if you are in a party of 2 or more, have 1 of you get the broccoli, and the other steak fries, and share :) 

Another substitution is in baking.  I mentioned back in my Tasty Tuesday post that I had some recipes I wanted to try and I had only posted 1 of the 3 I had planned on.  I finally got around to recipe #2 today (they just got out of the oven and are still hot!)  In this recipe, I decided to do the ol' switcheroo on butter with applesauce.  The recipe called for 2/3 cup butter so I did 1/3 cup butter, 1/3 cup unsweetened apple sauce.

This recipe is something I came up with for the Valentine's special when I worked at a hotel restaurant a few years back (I interned there for my culinary degree and stayed on for a few months until I left for my church mission in Poland).  I absolutely LOVED garde manger in culinary school-which is basically the preservation of food.  When we were in that class's rotation, we had to find ingredients that weren't on the menu of our little cafe that would go bad, and turn them into something else that we could add to the menu.  I remember making kimchi with some greens, and trying to make sushi wrappers (like nori) out of spinach...that one bombed!  Anywho, when I worked at the hotel, the executive chef liked to have me fill that role when we had over-ordered on something.  Around Valentine's he asked for ideas and mentioned he had a huge can of cherries...which was never on the menu, so might as well use it up :)  This is what I came up with-

~Chocolate Cherry Cakes~

Start with a basic chocolate cake recipe or mix.  I honestly wish I had made this with a mix because this took way too much time and mess.  Not to mention the recipe I picked was harder that it needed to be...but it's up to you :) 

Grease cupcake tins well.  In the restaurant we used really big cupcake tins, I a smaller tin today, again it's your preference and what you have on hand.  Grease them well because *ideally* you will want to present the cake upside down, so you want them to slip out easily.  Don't flour it, because again-you want it to look nice on the bottom, you don't want a layer of flour.

Scoop in your batter and then put in a cherry or 2.  I rarely like marachino, I made sure to get a different kind at the store like we had at the restaurant.  It's ok if the cherry sticks out a bit because your cakes will rise :)

As for the juice/syrup in the can, make sure to use that too!  I forgot to add it in as part of the liquid in the recipe, I think I did that originally when I came up with this.  I have a jar of peach syrup from some home-canned peaches that I add to smoothies and I thought about adding this to it but I decided it would be best with the recipe.  I'm pretty sure that when I originally made this, I had a chocolate frosting of some sort.  I played with the idea of ganache (but didn't want to run to the store for heavy cream).  I thought instead of chocolate frosting, adding powdered sugar to the cherry juice and it would be a pink glaze.  I started to add a little of the powdered sugar and then realized it's not just cherry juice, it's heavy syrup so it already has a lot of sugar.  (Can you tell I just make stuff up as I go a lot?  And that I'm indecisive?)

In the end, I decided to make a syrup reduction with the remaining juice from the can.  You could do this with any canned fruit that has heavy syrup and use it on pancakes!  I boiled it down for a few minutes and decided to use it as a light garnish on top of the mini cakes.  To know a syrup is ready, you dip a spoon in and then let the spoon cool down before swiping your finger on it and seeing if it's the thickness you want.  You don't want a soggy cake from the syrup but you don't want to burn it by boiling too long.  All sugar syrups look very liquid until they cool down, that's why the spoon test is important to know its real consistency. 

Once these mini cakes come out of the oven, let them cool down a bit.  I was impatient and tried to take one out for the picture and tasting...and it didn't come out smoothly, probably didn't grease enough.  I just plated it up cupcake style, drizzled on a bit of the syrup, and devoured!  Sooooo good! 

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