Monday, January 31, 2011

Molten Chocolate Cakes

The centers of these cakes are still gooey, providing built-in chocolate sauce for your ice cream.

The Good Housekeeping Cookbook has been my Kitchen Bible since Brianne first introduced me to this recipe eons ago.  I haven't tried anything from this book that I haven't liked, but these little chocolate cakes are my absolute favorite.

Molten Chocolate Cakes
 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup butter or margarine (1 stick), cut into pieces
1/4 cup heavy or whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Grease eight 6 ounce custard cups.  Dust with sugar.

2.  In heavy 3-quart sauce pan, combine chocolate, butter and cream; heat over low heat, stirring occasionally, until butter and chocolate melt and mixture is smooth.  Remove from heat.  Add vanilla; with wire whisk, stir in flour just until mixture is smooth.

3.  In medium bowl, with mixer at high speed, beat sugar, eggs, and yolks until thich and lemon-colored, about 10 minutes.  Fold egg mixure, one third at a time, into chocolate mixture until blended.

4.  Divide batter evenly among prepared custard cups.  Place cups in jelly-roll pan.  Bake until the edges of the cakes are set, but the centers still jiggle.  (8-9 minutes)  Cool in pan 3 minutes.  Run thin knife around cakes to loosen from sides of cups; invert onto desert plates.  Serve immediately with ice cream/whipped cream. 

This recipe makes 8 individual cakes.  Each serving is about 280 calories.
Who needs to buy pre-made dessert when you can whip these up at home in less than a half hour?  Seriously.  They only LOOK like they take a lot of effort. 

Dusting the custard cups with sugar is always messy.  At least when I'm the one doing it.  So to spare myself some cleaning, I sift a little powdered sugar over the tops of the cakes before serving.  It's just as pretty with none of the mess.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Ruine Wachtenburg; Wachenheim, Germany

*Typed Wedesnday, January 26th.  Posted today due to really shabby internet.*
Today we explored our third German castle.  I'm starting to think you can't throw a rock without hitting one.  This one, Ruine Wachtenburg, is the most stereotypically "castle-ish" out of the three we have seen so far.  It sits high above a hill top in Wachenheim (about forty minutes from Mannheim), and is quite a torturous steep climb.  There is a wonderful view on the way up, which somewhat makes up for the long walk.  The castle is surrounded by vineyards, and the path to the top zig-zags through the stairstep shelves of vines.  The higher you climb, the better the view of the town and countryside becomes.  About half way up we met some very friendly ponies who appeared to be camera-trained.


Fact:  While I was busy trying to keep from falling over from exhaustion
my super-in-shape husband was RUNNING up the last stretch of the path.
Note that he's still wearing shorts in the freezing weather.  Sigh.
It was freezing today!  By the time we got to the top, a light snow was falling.  On a clear day, the view from Wachtenburg stretches all the way to the Black Forest, but what with the snow and overcast sky we couldn't see much past the village of Wachenheim.  We're planning to revisit in the summer when the weather is a bit more friendly. 

The stairs on the other side weren't enough fun.

He stopped there only because I was screeching about how he would fall to his doom.
It's a long drop on the other side.

The plaque on the wall reads:  "Die Liebe ist die stärkste Kraft im die Kosmos."
Roughly translated, it means:  "Love is the strongest force in the cosmos."

This cool little map showed where popular landmarks could be found in the view
 from the castle.  The bottom hand points to where we are, the top to home. 

Scaffolding makes it possible to climb to the top of the hightest tower.  Kyle went up, but I preferred to keep my feet planted firmly on the ground.  I'm not so much a lover of heights...

Part of the castle grounds now hosts a restaurant: Burgshenke.  As best we could tell, the seating is all outdoors.  It must be lovely in the summer, and it certainly has a great view!

At night, lights illuminate the castle.  It can be seen from long distances, which is actually how we found it.  We spotted it while driving aimlessly Monday, and came back today for a better (daylit) look.

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Today is a special day.  Today is my momma's birthday.  And it's the first one I will have missed in twenty years.  (One of the many downsides to living in castle-land.)  In honor of the occasion, have some photos:

The couple on the left are my parents.  This was taken at my aunt and uncles wedding, way back in the day before I existed.  My grandparents are on the right.

That's little baby me with Mom, Grandma, Great-Grandma, and Great-Great-Grandma.  Because we were cool enough to have a five generation photo.  Can you tell where I get my bad vision?

Mom and I could totally rock the 90s poofy hair.  You know it's true.  And secretly, way down deep inside, you're lovin' the sparkly jackets too.

I really think my mom was happier about my graduation day than I was.  I was mourning the fact that I was leaving behind a place I'd come to love.   Mom, on the other hand, was pleased as punch and twice as proud.

Thanksgiving 2009
Happy birthday, Momma! 
All my love, even from 4000 miles away. 

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Neuleiningen Castle Ruins

One day Kyle and I were on our way to Ramstein to do a little shopping when I looked out the left window and spotted something out of the ordinary.  I said: "Hey, are those castle ruins?"  And lo and behold, it really was.  That's the sort of thing that happens to you when you're living in Europe.  One second you're just driving along, minding your own business, and the next WHAM!  History, Culture and their good friend Fairy Tale smack you right in the face, three on one. 

We went back to explore yesterday.  Have some photos.  The first six are of the countryside on the drive to the ruins.  All the others are of the view from the tower (which is high up on a hill, I might add) and the castle itself.

It should be noted that it was only a few degrees above freezing, and that those shorts were
ridiculous.  But there was no reasoning with him, I'm afraid.  Apparently he doesn't get cold.

As it turns out, the random ruins are actually called the Neuleiningen Castle Ruins.  My totally awesome Googling skills figured out that one.  Apparently, the castle was built in the 13th century by the noble family for which the surrounding town in named -- the House of Leiningen.  Doesn't that sound all fancy and regal?  And those facts were brought to you by this nice little site.  Which I also Googled.

Happy Weekend!