Decadent Chocolate Cake

Decadent Chocolate Cake anyone? How about with some ridiculously rich and creamy Chocolate Fudge Frosting?!

Yeah… THAT is what I thought!

First of all, I am constantly trying to master the moist chocolate cake. It seems so simple, and we all know it is delicious. But how do we do it? How do we create this Great White Buffalo of cakes? I am here to save you all from dry, yet sometimes tasty, chocolate cakes. I have found a combination of ingredients that finally, after years, has given me what I want…. and need! 😉

Topped with my Chocolate Fudge Frosting, this cake is to die for. I honestly meant to share it with my friend Jessica, and with the people I clean for…. but honestly…. I felt like that guy in the Hobbit who finds that ring…. (clearly not my realm). I was Bilbo and the cake was the Ring. Let it be known, I do like to share…. but every so often a gem is born in this old kitchen of mine, and I get all Queen of the Castle-ish. I can’t help it, blame my mother.

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So, here is what you will need…

Chocolate Cake

  • 2 C. All Purpose Flour
  • 2 C. Granulated Sugar
  • 3/4 C. + 2 Tbsp. Dark Cocoa, it is so important to use good quality cocoa for this recipe
  • 2 tsp. baking Powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 1 C. Milk, I like using Whole Milk for this one
  • 1/2 C. Vegetable Oil
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Tbsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 1 C. Boiling Water

Chocolate Fudge Frosting

  • 1 1/3 C. Heavy Cream
  • 1 1/2 C. Sugar
  • 1 stick butter (4 oz) + 2 Tbsp
  • 6 oz. German Bakers chocolate, again good quality
  • 2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • a pinch or two of Salt

Here was my process…

Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and prepare a 9×13″ pan, or two 9″ round pans by greasing and dusting with flour.
  2. In the bowl of your stand up mixer combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix on low for about 30 seconds just until combined.
  3. Add milk, vegetable oil, eggs and vanilla. Mix on medium speed until batter is smooth.
  4. Once batter is smooth, reduce mixing speed to low and slowly, and might I add very carefully, pour boiling water into batter.
  5. Beat on high-speed for about a minute. The batter will be very thin, but be patient and let it do its magic!
  6. Pour cake batter into prepared baking pan(s).
  7. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  8. Let cool completely before frosting.

Frosting

  1. In a medium saucepan bring the cream and sugar to a boil over medium heat.
  2. Reduce heat to low to bring the mixture to a steady simmer for 6 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  3. In a separate bowl break the chocolate into pieces and add the butter, vanilla and salt.
  4. In a large bowl prepare an ice bath to place the medium bowl into.
  5. Pour cream mixture over chocolate mixture, let stand until butter and chocolate have melted, again stirring occasionally.
  6. Place chocolate mixture bowl into ice bath. ( Still in the bowl of course!!!!) Using a hand-held electric mixture beat the frosting until it becomes thick, glossy and smooth. This should take about 4 – 5 minutes.
  7. Use immediately.

This cake is a real mind blower… and I can’t encourage you enough to make this for any occasion…. literally, any occasion. That means PMS, Monday, a Doctors appointment, a birthday, Tuesday…. you name it. Talk about versatile.

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Happy Baking!

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Peanut Butter and Honey Hearts

Yummy Yummy people! I am loving the whole candy making thing, and since it is so hot outside, I figured why not give my oven a break. This is a super easy way to make delicious, fairly guilt free Peanut Butter Cup type treats at home.

I can honestly say that i don’t get the PB&J thing… AT ALL! It is a bizarre combination of food that just doesn’t work for me. Lots of treats involving peanut butter call for salt, but I think peanut butter is salty enough. Some say it adds to the flavor, but so does the chocolate, the honey, etc. No salt needed here. These are the perfect addition to a summer ice cream sundae!

So, you will need…

  • 2 C. Peanut Butter, use the All- Natural kind, it just tastes better!
  • 2 3/4 C. Confectioners Sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. Honey, local honey of course
  • 1/4 C. Butter, at room temperature
  • 1 C. Chocolate or Chocolate Candy Coating finely chopped, tempered for dipping

Here was my process…

  1. Combine peanut butter, butter, confectioners sugar and honey in a bowl. Mix with a wooden spoon until a thick mixture forms.
  2. Take your candy mold and fill each mold, pressing down to make sure all air bubbles have escaped.
  3. Scrape excess off top of each mold, and place in freezer for up to an hour until stiff.
  4. Pop hearts out of mold onto a piece of parchment on a baking sheet.
  5. Temper chocolate or candy coating, I used a double boiler for my candy coating but you can use the microwave too.
  6. Dip hearts into candy coating and let set.
  7. Enjoy!

These are so easy to make, and so much fun to eat. It is always nice to eat homemade candies, and they are going to make a great gift as well!

Happy Baking… or Candy Making!

Framboise Dream Meringues

First of all I want to say Sorry for my absence. Sometimes a gal must roam!

Who doesn’t love a delicious Prosecco? Framboise Beer is a fantastic  Raspberry Belgian Craft Beer, and lets face it ladies, if we are going to drink beer, it might as well be fancy beer. This is the Prosecco of Beer.

So, for my comeback recipe, I made a delicious Meringue cookie with Framboise and white chocolate. It is truly divine! It is light and airy, yet chewy as all meringue should be. They are sweet and delicate, just like me.

So, you will need…

  • 1/2 C. Confectioners Sugar, sifted
  • 3 Large Egg Whites, at room Temperature
  • 1/4 tsp Cream of Tartar
  • 1/3 C. Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp Framboise Beer
  • 1/2 C. White Chocolate Chips

Here was my process…

  1. Preheat oven to 250 Degrees F and line two baking sheet with Parchment Paper
  2. Sift the confectioners sugar onto a plate and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl combine egg whites, cream of tartar and Framboise. Beat on medium until soft peaks form.
  4. Slowly add the granulated sugar and beat on medium high until stiff, glossy peaks form.
  5. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the confectioners sugar, then fold in the white chips.
  6. Drop the dough on the prepared baking sheets, you can sprinkle the baking sheets with powdered sugar to make them stick less, spacing them about 1 inch apart.
  7. Bake at 250 degrees F for 55 minutes. Remove from baking sheet and let cool.

These are so much fun to eat, and you really do feel a twinge of sexy sophistication while eating them. Plus you won’t need more than one or two of this ladylike treat, which is good for the midsection. Put on your best night wear, throw on an old classic, pour a glass of Prosecco, and have yourself a treat.

After all, Life is but a Meringue…

Happy Baking!

Vanilla Bean Cream Puffs (Choux Pastry)

Who doesn’t love a good Cream Puff?! For years I have wanted to make these but again, I thought it was going to be wicked hard. Turns out it is actually really easy. The Choux Pastry was the part that seemed daunting, but I found a few great recipes, and just made a dough using parts of the recipes I found. Trial and error! The first batch fell, but the second and third turned out beautifully. I found that the key to these beautiful puffs was milk! I prefer the texture and taste of the puffs much better than other recipes that don’t call for milk. They also didn’t brown as quickly. Success!

For the cream filling I made a Vanilla Bean whipped cream. It added the perfect amount of flavor to this light and airy delight.These are fun, and easy and you probably deserve to have them right now. I think these are the new bonbons! I would much rather sit around in my unmentionables eating these cream puffs than a box of bonbons. Bonbons are so 1994, in a bad way. Cream puffs are a lovely marriage of light and air pastry perfection and sexy whipped cream, with a dash of ladylike elegance that only the ground vanilla bean can offer. Cream puffs are the new sexy. 😉

So, you will need…

*Makes 30-35 puffs

  • 1/2 C. Whole Milk
  • 1/2 C. Water
  • 6 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1 C. All-Purpose Flour, always unbleached
  • 4 Eggs, room temperature

Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream

  • 1 C. Heavy Cream
  • 2 Tbsp Confectioners Sugar
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Vanilla Bean

Here was my process…

  1. In a medium saucepan bring the milk, water, butter and salt to a boil.
  2. Once butter is completely melted, remove from heat.
  3. Add flour all at once and stir quickly using a beautiful wooden spoon until blended.
  4. Return the pan to heat and stir rapidly until the dough pulls away from the sides of the sauce pan and forms a ball.
  5. Remove from heat and let cool to 140 degrees, about 4-5 minutes.
  6. In a smaller bowl whisk 1 egg, and add it to the cooled dough. (the dough will separate and get shiny after you add each egg, but keep stirring and it turns back into a nice smooth batter). Stir until blended.
  7. Add the remaining eggs, whisking them one at a time, and adding them one at a time. Stirring each until well incorporated.
  8. Let the dough cool for another 10 minutes or so before putting it in your piping (pastry) bag.
  9. Once cooled, fill your piping bag, and for each puff pipe out 1Tbsp of dough (some will call it paste), about 2 inches apart to allow for spreading.
  10. Bake puffs, one sheet at a time, at 425 degrees F for 15 minutes. Then reduce heat to 375 degrees F and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes until golden brown in color.
  11. Remove the puffs from the oven and immediately poke the sides with a toothpick to let the steam escape. Don’t worry, they will not collapse on you!
  12. Return the tray to the oven, turn the oven off ( leaving the door open) and allow the puffs to dry out for 10-15 minutes.
  13. Let cool completely before filling!

For the whipped cream simply combine the heavy cream, confectioners sugar, vanilla and ground vanilla bean in a bowl and beat on medium-high with hand mixer, or stand up mixer until medium peaks form.

Once the puffs are cool, fill your pastry bag with the whipped cream, and gently insert the tip of the bag into the puff and pipe it full of cream. You will feel the puffs get full, and when you see the cream start to show, you know the puff is full!

These are super fun to make and they are also great for any occasion. A wedding, baby shower, birthday, dessert party, pajama party… literally anytime is a good time for a cream puff!

Happy Baking!

Shortbread Sandwich Cookies w/ “Fancy” Chocolate Frosting

Shortbread is a very versatile cookie. You start with your basic dough and you can literally add anything edible to it. I’m not so sure how some ingredients would taste, but hey… we live in a world full of possibilities now don’t we?! My friend leaves for 42 days in 4 days so I was trying to make him something from his request list. He wanted shortbread cookies with chocolate “on top”. To me that meant sandwich cookies… haha, I heard what I wanted, leave me alone! 😉

So, I decided to just keep the lovely shortbread simple. Butter is all that I needed to get the flavor I wanted, but a nice chocolate to be sandwiched was in order. I wanted something not too sweet, but sweet enough. I tried a few different combinations of chocolate to powdered sugar to cream, and I found the best one for this cookie. I love sandwich cookies!!!!!!!

So, you will need…

*Makes 30 cookies

  • 1 C. Salted Butter, softened (Adds to the flavor)
  • 2 C. All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 C. Powdered Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 1 tsp Vanilla

Frosting

  • 1/2 C. Powdered Sugar
  • 1/2 C. Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 1/4 C. Heavy Cream
  • 1 Tbsp Vanilla
  • add milk if you need a thinner icing/frosting

 

Here was my process…

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and prepare 2 baking sheets, can line with Parchment Paper, but it isn’t necessary
  2. In a small bowl whisk together flour and salt, set aside.
  3. In a medium sized bowl, cream butter using mixer of your choice, and mix until light and fluffy. About 1 minute.
  4. Add powdered sugar and vanilla, beat until smooth. About 2 minutes.
  5. Stir in the flour mixture until everything is well combined.
  6. Take dough and flatten it into a disk on a piece of plastic wrap. Wrap it up.
  7. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
  8. Unwrap the dough and roll it out onto a slightly floured surface. Rolling the dough to be about 1/4 inch thick.
  9. Using a circular floured cookie cutter, (you can get crazy and use whatever cutter you fancy!!!!), cut out as many cookies as you can.
  10. Place cookies on the cookie sheet then put into icebox (fridge) for 10 minutes. This allows the cookies to maintain their shape during baking.
  11. Bake at 350 degrees F for 8-10 minutes.
  12. Let cool completely before frosting and making the glorious sandwiches!

While the cookies are cooling you can prepare your frosting. Take the powdered sugar, cocoa, vanilla and cream and mix it all together at the same time until you have a smooth consistency. If you need to make the frosting thinner, or it isn’t wet enough add a tsp of milk at a time until you are happy with it!

These cookies might sound boring to you, but they appeal to my 1950’s inner housewife in an undeniable way! Make a batch, wear an apron, drink a martini in the middle of the day, enjoy a shortbread cookie sandwich. 😉

Happy Baking!

 

 

 

 

Sweet and Spicy Cornbread

It is just starting to get a little bit warm around here, and so I have been cooking with fresh ingredients and loving every minute of it. I wanted to make some spicy spring chili with cornbread, but it just felt to boring! I love Cornbread and all, but geeze… it is really just a dull, dull bread. That can get very dry and tasteless if done wrong! Of course I am just not one of those people 😉

For Easter, the Easter Bunny (aka my mom!!!, yes, still…) brought me a guacamole basket filled with avocados, limes, tomatillos, Habanero peppers, chili peppers and jalapenos! We could only put so much in the guac, and then I made chicken tacos with some of them… they are damn spicy! So, I figured, why not Pump Up the Volume ( yes, I just went there) and pull a Christian Slater on this cornbread!

Sweet with honey (and love) and spicy with chilis! That would definitely be something to write about.

So, you will need…

  • 1 1/4 C. All-Purpose flour
  • 3/4 C.  Corn Meal
  • 1/4 C. sugar
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 C. Milk
  • 1/4 C. Canola Oil
  • 2 Egg Whites, beaten (NOT WHOLE EGGS)
  • 2 fresh jalapenos diced
  • honey to drizzle over uncooked cornbread before baking, hence the sweet and spicy… just saying!

Here was my process…

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and grease preferred method of baking pan, dish, skillet, etc.
  2. In a  large bowl combine flour, corn meal, sugar, baking powder and salt. Mix lightly, just until everything is combined.
  3. Add Milk, Canola Oil and beaten egg whites. Mix well.
  4. Add jalapeno, diced, chopped however you like them!
  5. Spoon batter into prepared baking pan.
  6. Drizzle honey over each piece. The honey will sink into the cornbread and create a delicious crust.
  7. Bake for 20-22 minutes!

 

These are best served fresh, and don’t be afraid to add a bit more spice!

Happy Baking!

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes

So, I was asked to make cupcakes for a birthday party, and I was very excited to have my first professional assignment.  I wanted to make something that everyone could enjoy, and vanilla seems like the one thing most people can all agree on. There are certainly some out there who don’t like vanilla, but they don’t have to eat my cupcakes now do they! 😉

This is a delicate cupcake that is perfect for any occasion. Paired with a simple icing made of confectioners sugar, milk and cream cheese… it is really just a delightfully simple cupcake.

So, you will need…

*Makes 16 cupcakes

  • 1 C. Granulated Sugar
  • 2 tbsp Vanilla Bean, ground
  • 1 3/4 C. Cake flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 C. Butter, softened
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • 1/3 C. Sour Cream
  • 1/4 C. Canola Oil
  • 2/3 C. Milk
  • 1 tbsp Vanilla, clear

Frosting

  • 2 C. powdered Sugar
  • 1/4 C.  Milk, more if needed
  • 1/4 C. Cream Cheese

Mix all together using a hand blender. Add more milk if needed.

Here was my process…

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and prepare cupcake pans.
  2. In a  small bowl combine the vanilla bean and sugar, let sit for a while to allow the flavor of the vanilla bean to infuse the sugar.
  3. In a medium bowl mix cake flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  4. Add the vanilla bean sugar to the flour mixture until well combined. You should be able to smell the delicious vanilla!
  5. Add butter and mix until crumbles form.
  6. In a small bowl whisk eggs. Then add sour cream, canola oil and vanilla, mix until smooth.
  7. Add egg mixture to flour mixture until combined.
  8. Slowly add milk until well mixed.
  9. Fill prepared cupcake pans so that each cavity is half full. Believe me they will rise!
  10. Bake at 350 degrees F for 15 -17 minutes. Tops will not turn golden brown, so don’t over bake my little bakers!
  11. Cool completely before icing.

So that is all, these are very tasty and great for any occasion.Remember, the tops should be a lovely white gold color, not any darker!

Happy Baking!

 

Chili Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I was in possession of a beautiful bar of dark chili chocolate, and I wanted to make some cookies… so…. I combined the two! Instead of using chocolate chips I simply cut the chocolate bar into chunks and tossed it in my dough when the time was right. I tasted the chocolate and fell in love with the way the chili crept up on me. It is subtle and smooth, the perfect amount of chili! Lindt really mastered this one!

I wasn’t too sure if these cookies would be any good so I made a small batch to test out. These cookies definitely go better with a nice red wine than with the traditional milk, but throw a little ice cream between a few cookies and you are in for a treat!

If you just have chocolate chips you can use a 1/4 tsp of chili powder instead!

So, you will need…

  • 1 1/4 C. All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 C. Unsalted Butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 C. Packed Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 C. Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • 1 C. Chopped Chili Chocolate

Here was my process…

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, SIFT together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl combine butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar and beat with your trusty wooden spoon until smooth.
  4. Add beaten egg and vanilla, beat until well combined.
  5. Slowly incorporate dry ingredients until everything is mixed entirely.
  6. Fold in chili chocolate chunks.
  7. Drop 1 inch balls of dough, 2 inches apart onto prepared baking sheet.
  8. Bake for 10-12 minutes.
  9. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt at when they are fresh out of the oven.

If you are up for something different I say give these a try. They aren’t the everyday cookie which makes them that much more fun!

Happy Baking!

Cinnamon Sugar Bagels

I wanted something kind of different and easy for Easter breakfast, so I thought a play on cinnamon sugar toast would be nice. Maybe classing it up a bit by making bagels…. and they were great. I used my same recipe from before, just added cinnamon and sugar instead of blueberries or herbs. They were so delicious served warm with a little bit of butter on them. They almost tasted like a cinnamon roll with cream cheese! I decided to not do the classic Cinnamon Raisin bagels because I don’t like them, and I feel like they take away from the elegance of the cinnamon sugar bagel. The Cinnamon Sugar bagel is a classy bagel, with poise. It would wear Prada if allowed!

So, you will need…

  • 2 tsp of active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp white sugar
  • 1 1/4 C.  warm water (add more water if needed)
  • 3 1/2 C.  bread flour (will need extra for kneading)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbs Cinnamon
  • 1/4 C. Granulated Sugar

Here was my process…

  1. First I took 1/2 a  cup of the warm water and poured it into a small mixing bowl. Then I added  in the sugar and yeast. Do not stir. I let it sit for 5 minutes,  then I stirred the yeast and sugar mixture until it all dissolved.
  2. In a large bowl, I  mixed the flour and salt. I made a well in the middle of the flour and poured in the yeast and sugar mixture. Then I added half of the remaining warm water into the well. I stirred the ingredients together adding the remaining water as I needed to, and more if necessary. You want the dough to be moist and firm after you have mixed it.
  3. Add Cinnamon and sugar and mix well.
  4. On a floured countertop, I kneaded the dough for exactly 10 minutes until it was smooth and elastic. (Try to work as much flour in as possible while kneading to form a firm and stiff dough).
  5. I  lightly brush a large bowl with olive oil and turned the dough into the bowl making sure to coat the dough with the oil. Then I Covered the bowl with a damp towel and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, The dough should in size. I punched down the dough, and let it rest for another10 minutes.
  6. I divided the dough into 8 pieces, relatively the same size. I rolled them into nice, neat balls of dough. Then I put flour on my very clean finger and poked the ball of dough! I made a hole in the center of each adorable ball , hence the bagels shape. I carefully stretched the hole I had made out to about 1/2 and inch or so, again,it doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to taste good.
  7. After shaping the dough rounds and placing them on the cookie sheet, I covered them with a damp kitchen towel and allowed them to rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, I preheated my oven to 425 degrees.
  8. For the next step I brought a large pot of water to a boil and immediately reduced the heat. I used a skimmer to lower the bagels into the water. I put 4 in at a time and turned after 2 minutes and boiled for another 2 minutes. This makes for a chewy delicious bagel. If you prefer a less chewy bagel, boil for 1 minute on each side. Then remove from water and place on slightly oiled baking paper on baking sheet.
  9. I baked them for 20-22 minutes, until golden brown.

These are great tasting, and it proves that you can use one recipe a hundred ways. You can have any flavor bagel your little heart desires!

Happy Baking!

 

Blackberry Brie Muffins

This was a fun little adventure in my kitchen. It is starting to get warmer and more springlike around these parts, and I just wanted to celebrate spring while still being prepared for the cold, through a muffin! I actually started out just using blackberries, but the strawberries were so juicy and beautiful, I had to show them some culinary love as well! So I did half blackberry brie, and half strawberry brie muffins. They were both great, although I was a bigger fan of the blackberry ones just because they are my favorite berry!

They came out moist and smelling incredible. even my picky eating friend who said, “What is brie? I won’t be messing with those.”, he liked them both! So that is a sign of success in my kitchen, and so these muffins get an A+!

So, you will need…

*yields 12 muffins

  • 1 3/4 C. All-Purpose flour
  • 1/2 C. Granulated Sugar
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 Egg, beaten
  • 3/4 C. Milk
  • 1/4 C. Canola Oil
  • 1/2 C. Fresh Blackberries, or Fresh Strawberries cut into pieces
  • 1/2 C. Brie cut into pieces – they can be as big or as small as you want. I cut off the rind, but that is also up to you

Here was my process…

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 Degrees F and prepare the muffin pan with liners or grease.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl whisk egg until fluffy, about 1 minute.
  4. Add milk and oil to egg, whisk for another 30 seconds or so.
  5. Make a well in the center of the dry mixture, and add the wet mixture. Mix until everything is combined.
  6. Add blackberries or strawberries and brie to mixture, mix well.
  7. Spoon into prepared muffin pans, bake at 400 degrees F for 18-20 minutes until muffin tops are a slight golden blonde.

 

I think these are best when they are warm, I even put some fat free frozen yogurt on mine! But they are great at any temperature and they can be enjoyed at anytime!

Happy Baking!