Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Chocolate frosting and kitchen gadgets...and a giveaway!!

I am not a fan of crisco laden, stiff and hideously sweet frostings, so when I saw this recipe for a cream based chocolate frosting I knew that I had to try it.  Honestly, the cupcakes weren't anything to write home about and I don't think I'd use that cake base again, but I did like the frosting.  It pipes nicely and holds it's shape without being too stiff.  I made these the day before leaving town and hurriedly threw the rest in the fridge and was pleased to find that 5 days later they still taste good and the frosting is still in great shape.  It's not a super gooey chocolate lover type frosting, but a good, serviceable milk chocolate flavor every day frosting.

Chocolate Cream Frosting

2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup granulated sugar
pinch of salt

In a heavy medium saucepan, heat all of the ingredients together over medium low heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves and the cocoa blends in to the mixture.  (If your cocoa powder is particularly lumpy, you may want to sift it first.)  Remove from heat and allow it to cool to room temperature, then pour it through a fine mesh strainer into a medium bowl.  Chill in the fridge for 2 hours, then beat with an electric mixer until it forms medium peaks and reaches a good spreading consistency.  This must be stored in the refrigerator.
Now, let's talk about some of my favorite kitchen gadgets.  My kitchen is currently quite small.  A "two cheek kitchen", so to speak.  More than two people in there at once makes for a cozy experience.  Three months from now, when this construction mess is all out of the way, I'll have myself a much more serviceable space with a lovely 7 foot island, double convection oven, 36" gas range...all sorts of goodies.  In the mean time, though, I've had to be quite choosy about what gadgets make their way into my limited cabinet space.  As I've said before, I don't have a stand mixer of any sort, in part because of the space issues.  So the things I do have are tried and true.  The first things on display are disposable decorating bags.  So useful!  I've had several reuseable sets that have split within the first couple of batches, causing me great frustration.  Ever since I found these lovely little Wilton bags (available at most craft stores in the wedding cake section), I've not looked back.  Go for the larger size - you won't regret it.  Along with it, grab yourself a nice oversized star tip and you can easily pipe fancy pancy looking cupcakes like the ones above.  No more crookedly slathered frosting.
This mango slicer is a newcomer, but one that my mom insisted that I need.  The way I have always sliced a mango is to slice two big slabs off, as close to the pit as possible, then score the flesh down to the peel, pop it inside out and slice those lovely poking out chunks off.  That always leaves behind two nice swaths of fruit on the sides of the pit.  Enter this handy dandy gadget, which, with one push, neatly leaves the pit behind and maximizes the amount of fruit.  This was about 12 dollars, and is OXO brand.  I wouldn't rate this as a completely necessary thing in my kitchen, but it's definitely nice to have.  I make lots of mango salsa.
This citrus squeezer is a real gem.  Absolutely worth it's space in my drawer.  My mom gave me this for Christmas, and I'm amazed at how well it juices limes and lemons.  I have a couple of other juice gadgets that don't even compare.
I had all sorts of clever things in mind to add to these little tongs since they appear to be having a nice conversation, but got distracted and didn't get that far, so you'll have to use your imagination.  The all metal ones on the right are my BBQ grill work horses.  I have an 18" long set of true BBQ tongs that came with a grill tool set that languishes in my drawer because they're so unwieldy.  These ones are perfect for pretty much everything.  I also use them for salad, and I prefer them over a salad fork and spoon.  The blue ones are newcomers, and I found them at Tai Pan Trading company for less than 5 bucks.  They earn their keep serving salad as well as flipping meat over in my non-stick skillets.
Last but not least, my favorite basting brush.  The bristles are made of silicone, AND you can see the middle layer of bristles is specially designed to slurp up extra sauce.  I love love love this brush.  It's OXO brand, and less than 10 bucks.  I use this for grilling, brushing butter on pastries, egg washes and all sorts of stuff.

I have some other kitchen favorites, like my Roul Pat pastry mat, Calphalon pans and nice knives, but I am unfortunately not made of money so I can't be giving any of those away :).

 Here's the good news, though.  Leave me a comment about which of these gadgets you'd like the most.  I will close this on May 2nd at midnight and randomly draw one name.  The lucky winner will get the gadget they asked for AND a dozen delicious cookies.  The type will depend on how far away you are from me - some varieties ship better than others.  If your profile is set to private, leave me some way to contact you if you win.

50 comments:

Tammy Scofield said...

I love those ideas for smaller kitchens that you give. I will have to try it out the frosting on our next batch of cake cookies.

Tammy

Melissa said...

the tongs. you can always use another pair of tongs. :)

Wehaf said...

I would love some tongs; I only have a cheap plastic pair.

urchiken at gmail dot com

Nan said...

Hi Heidi,

I would like to try the disposable decorating bags, the most I suppose. One of these days I want to take a cake decorating class. I'll have to try your frosting though, for sure. Thanks, Heidi!

Patti said...

The citrus squeezer looks handy! I was disappointed when you said the cupcake recipe wasn't killer good. Mel made it sound like it was a keeper.

Andrea J said...

I've just discovered champagne mangoes and would happily put that sliver to work!

andreaj3000@gmail.com

Rhonda said...

I would love the citrus squeezer!
ljsmommybug at gmail dot com

Nurse Heidi said...

Patti, they weren't bad...just not amazing. Not chocolatey enough for me :). It's like biting into a chocolate bar and wanting it to be semisweet and it being a pale listless milky imitation. My kids thought they were just fine, so I guess it all depends on how much of a chocoholic you are!

Crystal said...

I love frosting! Can't wait to try your recipe out. The citrus squeezer would be my gadget of choice.

Amy said...

Oooh I love giveaways! I would love the basting brush. Mine is dead. :(

Ok, is it sad that I really might just be doing this for the dozen cookies? mmmmm.... cookies...

Amy said...

I have to try that frosting recipe! I would love the citrus juicer. That looks like a must have!

Megan said...

Love those blue tongs! :)

Bethany said...

the basting brush! i don't have one. but then i remembered I just ordered one at a pampered chef party. so maybe the juicer instead. yay for giveaways!

Stacey said...

Ooh, how fun!! I'd love the basting brush. I currently don't have one and always forget to get one when I'm at the store.

Leigh Anne @YourHomebased Mom said...

I'm in desperate need of some new tongs! Thanks!

Chad and Amy said...

Oh decisions decisions!
I think I want the citrus juicer.

Jeanne said...

Basting brush. I don't have one, but I would LOVE LOVE LOVE one!

Meagan said...

Probably the tongs. I would love the mango slicer, too, but I am also very limited on space. I need some good old plain tongs. My BBQ tongs are HUGE and a pain to use!

Lisle said...

The basting brush! I already have the tongs, and a juicer that's pretty similar. But the basting brush would come in awfully handy at my house.

the-mommy-person said...

I'd love the basting brush!

The Grant Family said...

Mango slicer! I didn't even know they existed! That's great!

Jamie Lloyd said...

OOOOOOOOOOOO holy moly would I lovvvve the pastry brush! I am so tired of picking pastry brush bristles off my food! Taryn always tell "at least it isn't cat hair" she is sooo funny!

The tongs would be lovely as well, I bet their are awesome for BBQs!

Hannah S said...

Oh, yum! Your kitchen sounds enviable. I like the basting brush. But Tyler would use it more on the grill so I am not sure he would agree. But I love our silicone scrapers. so Perhaps this would work as nicely.

Jessi said...

Oooo, those blue tongs are awesome. I've recently come into finding a million and one uses for tongs after only having a really horrible set for 10 years. Now I have some good metal ones, but I'm always afraid to use them in my nonstick pans like I really, really want to. The blue ones would be perfect for so many things.

Keli said...

As a wife of a former kitchen wares exec, I enjoy ownership of all these tools. And I couldn't live without the tongs, for sure, and the juicer. Oh, and the silicone brush also makes a great sewing machine duster-outer. The mango slicer and frosting stuff never sees beyond the back of my drawer of death because I have no use for them. Yet. I'm sure one day I will!

So I don't want an entry into your giveaway, but I just thought I'd leave my two cents worth. ;)

Carroll Conversations said...

The idea of a mango slicer has got me excited over here. I'm in mango-love these days and that would be a handy dandy tool. =)

Amy said...

I love the citrus juicer. Where can one purchase it?

Amy B (MOT)

Teresa said...

Heidi, you never cease to amaze me. I want to be a great cupcake maker, I tend to avoid them because I have yet to purchase that great big tip to frost them fancy. So I'll take the frosting bags and tip. I love my tongs and my basting brush like that (Joel also loves to chew on the basting brush and it is no worse for the wear).
Teresa

Nurse Heidi said...

Amy B. - I've seen those juicers a variety of places. I'd start with Target and work your way over to kitchen gadget places like Bed Bath and Beyond. Guess I'll have to figure out where to buy one if the lucky winner chooses it!

Emily said...

We love our mango slicer! We use it about once a week, especially since my current craving is Marquis's mango salsa, yumm! He is going to make me more tonight. :)

I would love more tongs, but must admit that like Amy, I'm entering just for the cookies, yum!

Sharon said...

I would have to pick the tongues (after all, they make a nice excuse to get the cookies!). Thanks for the chance to win!

Kikigirl said...

Tongs! Hey I'm a college student and have none of those things - but the tongs would probably give me a reason to make some yummy salad instead of PB&J. :) Lof ya Heidi :)

stephaniestempinski said...

I think I would like the mango slicer. Or maybe the basting brush. The lemon squeezer would be fun, too!

No, I think I want the mango slicer the most.

Thanks!

Amy said...

Oooh! Pick me! Pick me! Pastry set. =)

Susan S. said...

Love the citrus squeezer :)

Tiffany said...

I love my silicone brush, but I've wanted to try a new one because the one I currently have doesn't distribute oil like I want it to. Yours looks like the bristles are thinner, so I'd love to give it a try!

Megan said...

Fun giveaway! I think I'd have to choose the tongs.

Rachel said...

I want some cookies! This is a hard decision but I think the decorating tips are what I want!

You're super! Thanks for the fun!!

RNSANE said...

I would love to have that mango slicer. I rarely buy the Costco case of mangoes because it is such a hassle to prepare them. I already have that neat lemon juicer ( a gift from a friend ) and my kitchen is full of every gadget. I seldom cook anymore...in spite of my 500 cookbook and notebook full of "special" recipes!!

Sabrina said...

Ooh, I've been wishing for a good basting brush for a looong time, that doesn't leave hairs all over the food...

Kate said...

Citrus juicer!! I have a silicone basting brush and it is genius. I use it way more often than I ever thought I would.

Dorothy said...

I love all those gadgets! You make the choice difficult, but I would love the basting brush if I get chosen. I would also like your peanut, but I noticed that wasn't included in the giveaway.

ikkinlala said...

I'd most like the basting brush - ours leaves bristles on things and is hard to clean properly, so I've been thinking about getting a silicone one.

Tiff said...

I would love to try a mango slicer - I would buy more mangoes if I could handle them better! Thanks for the giveaway.

Renee said...

Oh How I LOVE give Aways!!! (although I have yet to win one! sniff sniff) So here I go, fingers crossed!! Citrus squeezer OR basting brush!! Both look WAY cool!!!! But the real thing I would love is a dozen of YOUR COOKIES!!!!! Yum-O!!
Thanks Heidi!
Renee

Tycksen Family said...

With all you have going on...you do more :). You are so fun. I would love the the frosting bag and tip. I want to make pretty cupcakes :).

THanks Heidi!

Natalie

WrayLynn said...

I can't choose! I think I would put all of them to good use. Probably the citrus juicer, though since I put lemon juice in my water a lot. I hope your kitchen is done soon! We added a huge island with cabinets to our kitchen and I don't know how I lived without it!

Melissa said...

The pastry brush! Normal ones gross me out a little with how hard they are to clean.

Julie said...

definitely the bags. i have the others already . and i can always use more bags. good luck with your construction!

J and A said...

Yum, More recipes! I love your site, and I am excited for the gadget review!

I would love to add the juicer to my kitchen drawer!


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