Sunday, August 26, 2012

Baked Beans (from Scratch)

I love baked beans. I know not everyone does, but I do. Although I am convinced that if everyone could have them from scratch, they would love them too. Sorry, Bush family and your cute, talking dog, and the Heinz people and anyone else who makes canned baked beans, but they just do not cut it for me. Too soft, too sweet.
Then there are the people who say the best "homemade baked beans" start out from a can of baked beans Huh??

 I made these beans for the Fourth of July. We had a big crowd, but I still thought I would be bringing home a big bowl for lunch the next day. Nope, didn't happen. I had maybe a scoop left -- just enough to put on on corn tortilla and call it breakfast.

So, here you go, breakfast, lunch or dinner -- an American Classic.....(from scratch)

Real (Good) Baked Beans

(Before they were cooked)

1 1/2 C dried Pinto Beans
1 1/2 C dried Kidney Beans
1 1/2 C dried Great Northern Beans
14 C Water

1 large Onion, chopped
1/2 pound Bacon, chopped

1 1/2 C Catsup
1 C brown Sugar, packed
3 C Water
3 t dry mustard
1 T liquid smoke (or to taste)
1 1/2 t salt
3 coves garlic, minced

Pick over and wash beans. Rinse, drain. Combine beans and 14 C water in large Dutch oven. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand one hour. Drain and return beans to Dutch Oven. 
OR, soak Beans overnight in water, drain and rinse. Return to Dutch oven.

Place bacon pieces and onion in heated saute pan. Cook over medium-high heat until onion is lightly browned and bacon is cooked. Add to beans

Stir in remaining ingredients. Cover and bake at 300 for three hours. Remove lid and cook for 30 minutes or until beans are tender.

Alternate cooking method:
Place rinsed beans, sauteed bacon and onion, and remaining ingredients in crock pot. Cook for 10-12 hours on low or 6-7 hours on high. Times are approximates. Cook until beans are tender to your liking.

Eliminate the bacon for a Vegetarian Side or Main Dish.

or Add ground beef for a hearty meal served with greens and/or corn bread

Happy Birthday to Me!

It happens every year about this time -- my birthday rolls around. As Trace Adkins sang "I'm just proud to be here on the right side of the dirt." With that in mind,  birthdays are for celebrating, and to me that means cake. Tiring of the family favorites, Angel Food Cake with Chocolate Whipped Cream frosting and the All American Chocolate Cake from Costco, last year I decided to bake my own. It was a Chocolate Cake with Mexican Hot Chocolate Frosting. Spicy, smooth, and a big hit with the family.

So, the hunt was on for the perfect 2012 cake.  About a month ago, The Italian Dish blogged about her new favorite way to make cake:  a triple layered rectangle. Then last week, I happened over to Bird on Cake and  my eyes fell on her Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Cake (say that 5 times!!). An idea was hatched -- why not make a Chocolate Cake Loaf with a Cheesecake Center, topped with chocolate buttercream and ganache? (Yes, I like chocolate)

With a tip of the spatula to the Italian Dish and Bird on Cake for inspiration and my adaptation, I present:

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Cake  (serves 8)

Chocolate Cake:

1/2 C Boiling water
1 C Sugar
1 C All Purpose Flour
1/4 C plus 2 T Cocoa Pwdr (Dutch Process is best)
1/2 t Baking Pwdr
1 t Baking Soda
1/2 t Salt
1 Egg
1/2 C Buttermilk (or 1/2 T vinegar mixed into 1/2 C milk & let stand for 5 minu)
1/4 cup vegetable or coconut Oil
1/2 t Vanilla


8 oz. Cream Cheese, softened, at room temperature
1/4 C Sugar
1 Egg, at room temperature
1/2 t vanilla
1/2 C mini semi-sweet Chocolate Chips

Chocolate Buttercream

1 1/3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 C Confectioners Sugar, sifted
1 oz Unsweetened baking chocolate, melted
1/2 t vanilla
1/3 cup milk


1/2 C semi-sweet chips
1/2 C Heavy Cream
1/2  t vanilla or coffee-flavored extract

How To:

Chocolate Cake:

Heat oven to 350. Grease an 8x4 loaf pan (line with parchment if desired).

Bring water to a boil, keep warm.
In a large bowl, sift flour, cocoa, baking pwdr., baking soda and salt.
Beat oil and sugar, then add egg and buttermilk until thoroughly mixed - using a hand or stand mixer.
At medium speed, add flour mixture gradually until fully incorporated
Add boiling water, carefully combining until fully mixed. Beat for 1 1/2 minutes.
Pour batter into pan. bake for 35-40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Set aside to cool, removing from baking pan after about 10 minutes.


Heat oven to 450. Line an 8/4 loaf pan with greased parchment paper.

Beat cream cheese and sugar until fluffy. By hand, add egg, then vanilla. Fold in chocolate chips. Pur into prepared pan

Bake for 8 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 250 and bake for another 20 minutes, or until it is just past the jiggly stage -- firm but not overly cracked!
Cool in the pan, on the counter then in the fridge.

While the cakes are cooling, make the Buttercream:


With a hand or stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar. 
Add melted chocolate and vanilla, mixing well.
Slowly add the milk until you reach the desired consistency. You might not need all the milk -- or you might need more!
Set aside (or refrigerate if you will not be frosting the cake soon)

Ganache: (truly the icing on the cake

Place chips in a metal or glass bowl. Heat cream until it just begins to boil. Pour cream over the chips and let it sit. After 1-2 minutes, whisk together the cream, chocolate and vanilla/coffee extract until the chips are melted and the ganache is smooth and shiny.

Putting it Together:

Slice the Chocolate cake lengthwise, and level the top.
Place the bottom layer over the cheesecake in the pan (bottom up) Press down gently.
Carefully turn the cake/cheesecake onto a serving platter.  Peel the parchment off the cheesecake and place the top layer of cake over the cheesecake.
As my daughter said, it now looks like a big ice cream sandwich:

Okay, I might have overcooked the cheesecake, but it was actually quite smooth and tasty. I also did not level my the top which caused a bit of a problem when it came time to spread the ganache. Do as I suggest, not as I did : level the top.

Frost with the Buttercream and press about 1 cup of mini chocolate chips up the sides of the cake. Place in fridge for at least 30 minutes.  Then spread ganache over the top of the cake, allowing some to drizzle on the sides and pool on platter.