October 24, 2010

Chocolate Lasagna

A Delicious Mess...
So a few years ago I mentored two women whom I dearly love.  One of our favorite things to do in meeting together was to meet over good food... especially dessert.  Olive Garden used to have this Chocolate Lasagna that the three of us would devour.  It was amazing!  They no longer serve it and I have been craving it.  SO... I found the recipe and made it last night.

If I do it again I would use the following recipe instead; using less cake which I really didn't need.  AND... if you are into calorie counting, this is not the recipe for you.  Just looking at the ingredients made me gasp... not that it stopped me from indulging in it.  Let me just say that this cake is a Delicious Mess and tastes EXACTLY like the one they used to serve at the Olive Garden... Heaven.  Now all I need to figure out is what to do with this enormous cake!

So this one is for you Kinsey and Laurel!  Love you both!

Chocolate Lasagna
Serves 8 (yeah right!  try 16-20)

4 c. flour
3 1/2 c. sugar
1 1/2 c. cocoa powder
1 T. + 1 t. baking soda
3 c. milk
1 c. butter, melted
8 eggs
2 t. vanilla extract

Butter Cream
2/3 c. water
4 T. meringue powder (if you can't find this, use 2 egg whites)
12 c. sifted powdered sugar
1 1/4 c. shortening
3/4 t. salt
1 t. clear almond extract
1 t. clear vanilla extract
1 t. clear butter flavor (if you can't find clear, that's ok)

Approximately 1 1/2 c. Semi-sweet chocolate chips for sprinkling

Cake:  Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease two 9 inch round cake pans.  In mixing bowl, stir together sifted flour, sugar, cocoa, and baking soda.  Add butter and mix well.  Add milk, eggs, and vanilla.  Mix thoroughly (it will still be a little lumpy).  Pour about 5 cups of the cake batter into each prepared pan.  Bake for 40-50 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  Cool for 10 minutes before you remove the cake from the pan.  Cool completely on a wire rack.

Butter Cream:  Combine water and meringue powder (or egg whites); whip at high speed until stiff peaks form.  Add 4 cups of sugar, one cup at a time, beating after each addition at low speed.  Alternately add shortening and remainder of sugar.  Add salt and flavorings; beat at low speed until smooth.  Thin out 1/2 of of the frosting with a little extra water.  The thinned frosting is used as the filling between layers.

To Assemble:  Carefully slice each cake in half (horizontally). Spread 1/3 of the thinned frosting between each layer.  Sprinkle semi-sweet chocolate chips on the top of each layer of frosting before placing the next layer of cake on top.  Once all of the cake is layered, frost the entire cake with remaining (non-thinned) frosting.  Sprinkle top of cake with chocolate chips.

Slice into wedges and enjoy the sweet goodness of this decadent cake!  It is very rich!

October 7, 2010

Chicken and Couscous Salad

So I decided to cook my way through some of my cookbooks to try some new recipes and it has been a blast!  This recipe is from the Cooking Light Essential Dinner cookbook.  I tweaked it a bit.

1 1/4 c. chicken broth
1 (5.7 ounce) box uncooked couscous
1 1/2 c. cooked chicken, cubed
1/2 c. thinly sliced green onions
1/2 c. diced radishes
1/2 c. chopped seeded peeled cucumbers
1/4 c. chopped parsley
2 T. pine nuts, toasted

1/4 c. red wine vinegar
1 1/2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1 t. ground cumin
1/2 t. salt
1/8 t. freshly ground pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
Pinch sugar

Bring broth to a boil; gradually stir in couscous. Remove from heat; cover and let stand 5 minutes.  Fluff with a fork.  Spoon couscous into a large bowl; cool slightly.  Add chicken and next 5 ingredients; toss gently.

To prepare dressing, combine vinegar and remaining 6 ingredients; stir with a whisk.  Drizzle dressing over salad; toss to combine.

Serves 4.