Category Archives: Bakery/Dessert Recipes

Cheesecake Cake is Way Better than Cake Cake!

So it turns out that making the German Chocolate Cheesecake Cake for my best friend becoming a Doctor has inspired me to make more cheesecake cakes! I had a serious chocolate craving Sunday so decided that layering dark chocolate cheesecake with a brownie cake all inside of a chocolate pretzel crust would certainly satisfy it! I didn’t want to eat an entire cake to myself (sadly this has been known to happen on more than one occasion), so wanted to incorporate another element besides chocolate so Josh would help me out! I don’t think he’d be as big of a fan as me if I topped the entire cake with a rich chocolate frosting…so I went with the always pleasing, never-failing peanut butter frosting I use frequently! In retrospect, I should have done half and half, next time!

Chocolate Pretzel Crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups salted pretzels, processed to crumbs
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 stick butter, melted
  • 2 ounces dark chocolate, melted

Dark Chocolate Cheesecake:

  • 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, room temp
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 t vanilla
  • 2 eggs, room temp
  • 3 ounces dark chocolate, melted and cooled (I went with Ghiradelli on this one)!

Brownie Cake:

  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 3 ounces chocolate
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • dash of salt

First, mix pretzel crumbs with sugar, then add in melted butter. Mix until well combined. Add in melted chocolate and mix again until thoroughly combined. Press into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Try to get the crust as high up the sides of the pan as possible (at least 3 inches is ideal). Put in fridge while making the cheesecake. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. In medium bowl, beat together cream cheese until fluffy. Add in sugar and beat until combined. Add in vanilla and eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add in melted, cooled chocolate, mixing to combine then pour over crust. Bake for 45 minutes or until center is still wobbly but edges are cooked. Let cool in pan on wire rack. For brownie cake, melt butter and chocolate together either in a double boiler over simmering water or in the microwave. When melted, let cool slightly, then whisk in sugar until completely dissolved. Add in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add in vanilla then salt and flour. Beat until flour is just combined (over-mixing will yield a tough brownie/cake). Pour into a greased 9-inch round pan and bake for 30 minutes. Let cool on wire rack 10-15 minutes before removing from pan. Turn cake onto rack and let cool completely.

Make frosting while cakes cool. When cool enough to frost, add 1/3 of the frosting to the top of the cheesecake, then top with the brownie cake. Then frost the entire top and sides of the brownie cake. Let chill in fridge at least a few hours, overnight is ideal but I was way to impatient and the craving was way to strong for me to wait that long!

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Becoming a Doctor Warrants One Amazing Cake!

My best friend Em became a Doctor last Thursday! She graduated with her Doctorate in Pharmacology after nearly 12 years of school!! As you can imagine, a celebration was in full effect…and of course, if I am involved, any celebration requires a dessert of some kind! Em’s favorite cake is German Chocolate, which I have made in the past for her so wanted to do something a little different…German Chocolate Cake with a twist! I layered a cake on top of a cheesecake, filled it with some frosting and baked it in a crust…sounds fancy I know, but well worth it!

German Chocolate Cheesecake Cake:

German Chocolate Cake:

1 pkg. (4 oz.) German Chocolate
½ cup water
4 eggs, separated
2 cups flour
1 t baking soda
¼ t salt
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
1 t vanilla
1 cup buttermilk

Coconut Pecan Frosting:

4 egg yolks
1 can (12 oz.) evaporated milk
1-1/2 t vanilla
1-1/2 cups sugar
¾ cup butter or margarine
1 pkg. (7 oz.)  coconut (2-2/3 cups)
1-1/2 cups chopped pecans

German Chocolate Cheesecake:

2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 t vanilla
2 eggs
3 ounces German Chocolate, melted and cooled

Crust:

1 package oreos, crumbed in food processor
1 stick butter

Ganache:

1/3 cup heavy cream
5 ounces German Chocolate

Directions: Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  For the crust, combine melted butter with oreo crumbs, mix until combined enough to press and hold together. Press into a 9-inch springform pan, and at least 3 inches up the sides (this is important, to hold the cake together some what…I used a flat sided round glass to keep pushing the mixture up the sides, it was a little tedious but worked. Once ready, put in fridge to cool while you make the ganache and cheesecake.

For the ganache, which isn’t necessary, but certainly adds a little more decadence to this already heavenly creation! Place chopped chocolate in a bowl and heat the heavy cream in a small saucepan until hot but not boiling.  Once warm enough, pour over chocolate and let sit 1-2 minutes. Whisk until chocolate melts. Pour over the crust and put back in the fridge to continue cooling while you make the cheesecake.

For the cheesecake, melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave and set aside to cool. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add in sugar, beat until combined. Add in vanilla then eggs one at a time. Finally, beat in melted, cooled chocolate and mix until combined. Pour into prepared crust, atop the ganache. Bake 45 minutes.

Next, make the German Chocolate Cake.  Grease another 9-inch round pan with cooking spray very well. Microwave chocolate and water in large microwaveable bowl on high 1-1/2 to 2 min. or until chocolate is almost melted, stirring after 1 min. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Beat egg whites in small bowl with mixer on high-speed until stiff peaks form; set aside. Mix flour, baking soda and salt. Beat butter and sugar in large bowl with mixer until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating well after each. Blend in melted chocolate and vanilla. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating until well blended after each addition. Add egg whites; stir gently until well blended. Pour into prepared pan. Bake 40 min. or until toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean.  Cool cake in pan 15 min.; remove to wire rack and cool completely. This cake baked up pretty thick so I ended up cutting off about 1/3 of the top (I had to flatten the top for layering purposes anyways so just took off a bit more cake so that it was the same size as the cheesecake).

For the coconut pecan frosting, in a large saucepan, beat egg yolks, milk and vanilla with whisk until well blended. Add sugar and butter; cook on medium heat about 12 minutes or until thickened and golden brown, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add coconut and nuts; mix well. Cool to desired spreading consistency, mine took about 15 minutes in the fridge.

Now to assemble the masterpiece…Spread about 1/2 of the coconut frosting on top of the cheesecake. Gently place the cake layer on top of the filling and then finish by frosting the entire top and sides of the cake part only. You do not need to frost the crumb layer on the side, just the cake portion! Let sit in fridge at least 3 hours but overnight is ideal!

Layers of goodness!

My Sincere Apologies

Ok, first I want to apologize for the extreme lack of posts in the past few weeks! It is certainly not because I haven’t been busy in the kitchen, just not sure what happened…did not seem to have any free time for myself any time recently! So this post is going to be a compilation of some of the better things I’ve made over the past few weeks! I apologize for the lack of pictures as well and will get back on track and start posting again, I promise!

Pumpkin Granola:

  • 3 cups oats
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour (or regular flour is fine)
  • 1/4 cup coconut
  • 1/2 T cinnamon
  • Dash of cloves, ginger and nutmeg (I used less cloves and ginger because that is what I prefer, but completely up to you)…could also sub pumpkin pie spice and get everything in one shot!
  • 1/2 can of pumpkin (don’t worry, plenty of uses for the rest of that can)!
  • 1/4 cup apple sauce or vanilla yogurt
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 T honey

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl combine the pumpkin, applesauce and honey. Add to dry ingredients, mixing well to coat everything. Pour into an 8X8 baking pan and bake for 55-60 minutes, turning every 15 minutes or so.

Pumpkin Cheesecake:

adapted from Paula Deen

Crust:

  • 1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 stick melted butter

Filling:

  • 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 8 ounces whole milk ricotta (Paula uses 3 packages of cream cheese, I have made it that way as well and it is fabulous)!
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pureed pumpkin
  • 3 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt (Paula uses sour cream)!
  • 1  cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (Paula uses all white sugar)!
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • dash of cloves and dash of nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoon flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch springform pan very well.

For crust: In medium bowl, combine crumbs, sugar and cinnamon. Add melted butter. Press down flat into prepared pan.

For filling: Beat cream cheese until smooth. Add pumpkin puree, eggs, egg yolk, sour cream, sugar and the spices. Add flour and vanilla. Beat together until well combined.

Pour into crust. Spread out evenly and place in oven for 50-55 minutes. Center will still be wobbly (2-3 inches out from center is ok, it will set up as it cools and refrigerates)! Remove from the oven and let sit for 15 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving. You may have heard/read other recipes where a water bath is necessary to bake a cheesecake but since this one has flour added in, it isn’t necessary. However, I have made this recipe in the past and used a water bath and it turned out just as good, just not necessary!

Pumpkin Spice ‘Donut Holes’:

For the Holes:

  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 2 t baking powder
  • dash of salt
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1/2 t nutmeg
  • 1/2 t allspice
  • dash of  ground cloves
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used vanilla silk)

For the coating:

  • 1/2 stick butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 T cinnamon

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a mini-muffin tin with cooking spray. In medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and spices, whisking to combine. In large bowl, beat oil with sugar until dissolved. Add in pumpkin, egg, milk and vanilla. Add dry ingredients to wet, mixing until just combined. Fill mini-muffin tins until almost full, bake 8-9 minutes. While baking, melt butter in small bowl. In another bowl, mix cinnamon and sugar together. When donuts are done, let cool until able to touch and remove from pan. Coat hole with butter (can either paint them with butter or just roll them around in the butter) then roll in cinnamon/sugar mixture. Set on cooling rack to finish cooling and eat as many as you can warm because these babies are delicious!

Pumpkin Beer Bread:

  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • dash of salt
  • 2 t cinnamon
  • 1/2 t ginger
  • dash of nutmeg and allspice
  • 3 T butter
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 10 ounces pumpkin ale
  • cinnamon sugar mix

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9X5 loaf pan. Combine flours, powder, soda, salt and spices in medium bowl. In small saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Remove pan from heat, mix in pumpkin and brown sugar until sugar dissolves. Add in the eggs, one at a time, whisking the entire time. Finally, stir in the pumpkin ale. Add wet mixture to dry mixture, mix until just combined. Transfer to prepared pan and top with cinnamon sugar. Bake 45 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean.

Caramel Apple Upside Down Cake:

Syrup:

  • 4 T butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 T apple cider or juice
  • 1/4 t cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup

Cake:

  • 2 apples, sliced (reserve top of 1 apple with stem intact)
  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 T cider or apple juice
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 t cinnamon
  • 1/4 t ginger
  • dash of cloves and salt
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 apple, diced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9-inch round cake pan thoroughly. Place top of apple with stem in center of pan, stem-side down, then line bottom of pan  with apple slices overlapping in a circle around  apple top. 

 Next, make the syrup. In a saucepan over low heat, combine all of the syrup ingredients and heat until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and pour a little over half the syrup over the apple slices and set aside rest of syrup. In a large bowl, combine oil, sugar, cider, and eggs. Mix until combined and sugar is dissolved. In separate bowl, whisk flour, spices and soda. Add dry into wet, mixing to combine. Fold in chopped apples. Pour batter over apple slices and bake for 45-50 minutes. Remove from oven and scrape around edges of cake with a spatula, let cool on wire rack 5 minutes then turn out onto a serving plate, bottom side up. Scrape any remaining sauce out of the pan onto the cake. Pour remaining syrup over cake when serving.

Strawberry Bread:

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 t cinnamon
  • 1 t baking soda
  • dash of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups strawberries, halved
  • 3 T milk (I used vanilla silk)
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup applesauce

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9×5 loaf pan with spray. Combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a bowl, whisk to combine. Put strawberries and milk into a food processor or blender and pulse until smooth. Add oil and applesauce, blend until combined well. Add strawberry mixture to dry ingredients. Stir until justl incorporated. (Overmixing will produce a tough bread). Pour into greased loaf pan. Bake for 45 minutes.

Your Trip Begins at Michigan.org!

We finally made it back to Michigan for some much over-due family time! It has been forever since we’d been back there to spend some quality time with everyone so once we heard Josh had the weekend off from coaching hockey, we grabbed the opportunity to rush out there! I knew that all four nieces and nephews were going to be around Friday when we arrived so I wanted to bring something fun and kid-friendly yet also delicious and adult-friendly with as a treat! I figured cake balls would be the perfect thing…what kid or adult doesn’t like a gooey, chocolatey ball of goodness?! One cake makes quite a lot of cake balls (even more, if you count the 13 I ate while making them)…so I decided to do three different frosting options instead of having 50 of the same kind. After much deliberation, and for those of you that know me and my ridiculous indecisiveness, I meant MUCH deliberation, I eventually settled on peanut butter, rich chocolate and homemade marshmallow fluff. Side note…homemade fluff was incredibly easy, I will never buy a jar of Fluff again and wish I would have made more since peanut butter and fluff sandwiches are one of my favorites! First things first, you have to bake a cake as a starting point. I went with my tried and true Ina Garten chocolate cake recipe I use for almost everything.

Crumbled cake!

Recipe adapted from Ina Garten, Beatty’s Chocolate Cake

  • Butter, for greasing the pans
  • 1 3/4 cups flour, plus more for pans
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cups good cocoa powder
  • 2 t baking soda
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1 t kosher salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk, shaken
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2  eggs, at room temp
  • 1 t pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9X13 inch cake pan or line with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray.

Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low-speed until combined. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low-speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour batter into pan and bake 30-35 minutes.  Let cake cool completely on wire rack.  Once cooled, crumble cake into a bowl (or in my case, 3 separate bowls)!

Peanut Butter Frosting:

  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 T butter
  • 1/2 t vanilla
  • 2 T heavy cream

Beat peanut butter and butter until smooth. Add in powdered sugar until completely dissolved and smooth. Add in vanilla, then heavy cream (more or less than the 2 T depending on what you need to reach desired thickness/consistency). You want it a little thick so that it holds the cake together and forms a nice moist ball.

Chocolate Frosting:

  • 4 T butter
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup boiling water
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup chocolate chips, melted and cooled

Combine cocoa and boiling water, stir until cocoa has dissolved, set aside. Beat on medium-high, butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low, add in melted and cooled chocolate. Beat until well combined, add in cocoa mixture.

Doesn’t that just look amazing!?

Homemade Marshmallow Fluff:

  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 t vanilla
  • dash of salt

In a double boiler placed over simmering water, beat egg whites, sugar and salt until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is hot to the touch, about 5 minutes. (Whisk this mixture the entire time). Once dissolved, pour the mixture into a cool bowl, add vanilla and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Sooooo good, really wish I would have made more!

Ok once the cake is cooled and crumbled into bowls, it’s time for the cake ball assembly! This is kind of tedious and takes a little while, but is worth it if you have the time! I like to use the food processor for this part, it just makes a much smoother and well combined ball, but you can just mix it by hand if you prefer. Pour the cake crumbs into the food processor and add in the frosting, process until combined. Dump back into bowl and start forming balls, any size will do, just depends on how big you want them! Roll balls until mixture is gone and place in fridge until cooled (at least a half hour). Repeat with remaining cake and frostings, and let cool in fridge. I am sure you can speed this process along by putting them in the freezer for a little while instead of the fridge, but I haven’t tried it!

See how smooth and moist? Easy for ball rolling!

Once the balls are all cooled, melt a bunch of chocolate with a few teaspoons of shortening in a double boiler or the microwave. (I used an entire bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips and 3 teaspoons of shortening). The shortening helps keep the chocolate smooth and prevents clumping and also leaves a nice shine! Place some parchment or wax paper on a sheet pan and dip or roll each ball in the melted chocolate until well coated, then place on wax paper to harden. In order to tell the three balls apart, I crushed up some Reese’s peanut butter cups and Graham Crackers in different bowls and rolled the peanut butter balls in the peanut butter cups and the fluff balls in the graham cracker crumbs (kind of a s’more type thing). Once all of the balls are covered, set the pan back in the fridge to finish setting up.

Finished products! From left to right: peanut butter cup, triple chocolate and s’more!

 

Any Reason to Celebrate is a Reason to Bake!!

So this past weekend we celebrated my ‘grandma’ Katie’s 89th birthday. I use the quotes around grandma because she is not actually my grandma but may as well be! She has been around since long before I was born and is my mom’s Godmother. Katie does not have any grandchildren of her own, but we are as close as can be to her actual grandkids! Katie has done more for us than most ‘real’ grandmas do for their grandkids! We do not get to see Kayster (as I like to call her) very often anymore so I had to jump at the chance for a little celebration in her honor…couldn’t miss it! And of course, since there was something to be celebrated, I got to try out a few recipes I’ve been wanting to try!

I had made some pumpkin spice syrup for lattes earlier in the week and had the majority of a can of pumpkin left over in the fridge so definitely wanted to use that up; gooey pumpkin butter cake, done! Next I have been wanting to try out this brownie batter dip recipe I saw a while and figured that if I combined it with chocolate chip cookies, I could use it as a ‘cream filling’ for a cookie sandwich rather than a dip! So I also baked up a batch of chocolate chip cookies using a new recipe I saw on Pinterest! The cake turned out really good…tasted like pumpkin pie on top of buttery cake…not a bad combination! I did overcook it a tad though so the center was mostly where any ‘gooeyness’ was but it was still tasty! The cookie recipe I used yielded some very moist and chewy cookies, definitely using that recipe again in the future! And the brownie batter dip is simply sinful, I was just eating it with a spoon, no dippers needed…and sandwiched between two soft, chocolatey cookies was so good…my mouth was doing a little happy dance!

Gooey Pumpkin Cake 

Adapted from Paula Deen

  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 1 stick of butter, melted
  • 1 egg
  • 8-ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1 stick of butter, melted
  • 10-12 ounces powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 t cinnamon
  • 1/2 t nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9-inch square pan. For the bottom layer, combine the cake mix, egg and melted butter until smooth and all mixed. Pat the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Beat together the cream cheese and pumpkin until smooth and combined. Add in eggs, one at a time, then vanilla and melted butter. Next add the powdered sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Beat until combined and pour over cake mix in bottom of pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes. Do not over-bake this, it is supposed to be ‘gooey!’ The center should still be a tad ‘wobbly’ when it is finished cooking but the edges will be brown and starting to pull away from the pan.

Not exactly the same size, but how pretty do those look?!

Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 3/4 cup butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 T vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray or lay down a silpat on a cookie sheet. Sift together the flour and baking soda, set aside. In separate bowl, beat together butter and sugars until smooth and dissolved. Add in vanilla, egg and egg yolk, beating after each addition. Add in dry ingredients, then fold in chocolate chips. Making larger cookies, this will not yield all too many, I think I got about a dozen or 15 tops! But I used a 1/4 cup or so of batter per cookie! You can make them any size you’d like, but I wanted big, chewy bake-shop style cookies! If you go with larger cookies, make sure they are spaced apart more than the usual amount and bake for 13-15 minutes. Center will appear slightly undercooked but bottoms should be brown and the center will set up when cool.

Don’t you just want to eat those up!?

Brownie Batter Dip:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 stick butter, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 T flour
  • 5 T cocoa powder
  • 2 T brown sugar
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 2 T milk

Combine cream cheese and butter, mixing until incorporated and smooth. Add in powdered sugar, flour, cocoa and brown sugar. Add in vanilla, then milk, 1 tablespoon at a time. Adding more if thinner consistency is desired. Try not to eat the whole thing, honestly!

New Take on an Old Goodie!

I have made countless banana breads and posted a few of them already so I wanted to do something different with the ripening bananas sitting on my counter top! I saw a recipe recently for ‘banana bread brownies’ on, of course, Pinterest which got me thinking of my best friend Emily’s banana bread cake she made! I settled on a combination of the two (calling them bars) and topped it with a healthier peanut butter frosting recipe to keep it as more of a breakfast pastry rather than a dessert! Although, with some chocolate chips and my go-to peanut butter frosting recipe, this would make one hell of a dessert as well…very similar to the chocolate chip banana cupcakes (referred to as Elvis Cupcakes) I posted about a while back!

Banana Bread Bars:

Moist, chewy and everything a brownie should be!

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup oats or oat flour (grind oats in food processor)
  • 1 t baking soda
  • Dash of salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup vanilla yogurt (Greek or regular) or sour cream
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 bananas, mashed
  • 2 t vanilla

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9X13 pan. Mix/sift together flours, soda and salt. In a separate bowl, cream sugar and butter together until sugar dissolves and mixture is smooth. Add in yogurt or sour cream, mix until combined. Add eggs one at a time, then vanilla, beating after each addition. Add in bananas. Beat in dry ingredients, mixing until well combined. You do not have to fold in the dry ingredients or mix until just combined because this is not a ‘bread’ where over-mixing the batter can leave it tough and chewy, but supposed to be more of a bar that is chewy and gooey! Pour batter into pan and bake 25-30 minutes.

Peanut Butter Yogurt Frosting:

  • 2 cups peanut butter
  • 8 ounces vanilla yogurt (the vanilla is kind of important here if you do not want a ‘sour cream’ type of flavor coming through)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2-4 T milk (I used vanilla soy which worked well)

I couldn’t resist taking a few bites!

Beat peanut butter until smooth and creamy, add in yogurt, beating until combined well. Add in powdered sugar, beating until smooth with no visible clumps. Add milk one tablespoon at a time, until reach desired consistency. (I ended up using 3).

Another option would be to use plain yogurt and add in 1/3 – 1/2 cup cocoa powder to make a peanut butter chocolate version (would probably need a little more milk to reach desired consistency, and using chocolate milk would really enhance the chocolatiness)! This would go extremely well with chocolate chips in the brownie batter…next time for sure!

These turned out to be better than I thought while coming up with the recipe! I even ate an end piece (which says a whole lot)! I cut from the middle outwards, and once I reach the edges, I am done! I am not a dessert crust fan, pizza, different story, but not dessert!

Busy Busy!

I have a slight obsession with soup, any time of year, any time of day, all day, every day I can and would eat soup! Just ask my husband, whenever he asks what I want or where I want to go to eat, he always has to say ‘besides soup!’ I frequently make my own so I have them for dinner a few nights a week while Josh is away at hockey…with a big hunk of crusty bread, it’s the perfect meal! So the other night I decided to make some cheesy broccoli cheddar soup with my cheesy beer bread to accompany it! And since I had quite a few bananas that were going bad, I decided to follow that up with some coconut rum banana bread! (Side note, I have noticed that the past few things I have baked recently have all contained booze in some form or another…not quite sure why, but they’ve all turned out deliciously)?!

Broccoli Cheddar Soup:

  • 5 T butter
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 cups whole milk or cream
  • 2 cups chicken broth, room temperature (just not cold)!
  • 2 heads broccoli, chopped
  • 1 cup carrots, shredded
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 bag sharp cheddar cheese

Melt butter in large saucepan over medium-high heat. In separate saucepan, heat milk over medium-low heat, keep warm. Add onion, saute until soft. Whisk in flour, cook for one minute. Slowly add in warm milk. Slowly add in chicken broth, whisking constantly. Bring to a boil, then simmer, whisking occasionally until thickened (about 20 minutes). Once thickened a little, add broccoli, carrots, salt and pepper to taste. Cook until vegetables are soft, about 20-25 more minutes. If desired, transfer 3/4 of the mixture to blender or food processor (or do as I did and use an immersion blender) to puree mixture. Pour back into saucepan and add cheese.

Cheesy Beer Bread:

  • 2 cups flour

    Moist, buttery, cheesy!!

  • 2 T sugar
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 1 t salt, divided
  • 10 ounces or 1 1/4 cups beer (guess you’ll just have to drink those last two ounces)!
  • 1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 t garlic powder, plus more for top
  • 1 t onion powder, plus more for top
  • 1 t mustard powder, plus more for top
  • 2 T butter, melted

Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, garlic powder, onion powder and mustard powder. Slowly mix in beer with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until just combined. Do not over-mix. Add in cheese, until just combined. Pour (I use this word lightly as the batter is very thick and will not ‘pour’) into a 9X5 loaf pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm area for 30 minutes. The dough will puff lightly and grow a little in the pan. Brush the top with the melted butter and sprinkle more seasonings over top. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes.

View from the top of the buttery, salty, crust!

Coconut Rum Banana Bread:

  • 2 cups flour

    Look at all that coconutty goodness!

  • 1 t baking soda
  • dash of salt
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup butter, room temp
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 t vanilla
  • 4 T Captain Morgan (or other rum you like/have on hand)!
  • 3 mashed bananas
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, grease 9X5 loaf pan. Combine flour, soda, salt and cinnamon in bowl, whisk together and set aside. Cream butter and sugar until smooth. Add in eggs one at a time, blending after each addition. Add in vanilla, then rum. Fold in bananas and coconut then gently fold in flour mixture until just incorporated. Pour batter into loaf pan, top with cinnamon sugar mixture (or crumb topping, etc). Bake about 45 minutes. Cool on wire rack.

Layers and Layers of Flavor!

As is usual, I was seriously craving chocolate and peanut butter pretty much all last week! So I waited until I knew we were having guests over for dinner on Friday to make a brownie cake with peanut butter frosting layers then smothered in a creamy, thick chocolate frosting and topped with dark chocolate Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups! Ah-mazing and totally satisfied my craving…this is one rich cake!

Photo: Cake I made today for dessert! Brownie cake with peanut butter frosting layers and topped with chocolate butter cream!

Brownie Layers:

  • 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons dark unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 11 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • 1½ cups granulated sugar
  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 5 eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the sides and bottom of three 8″ round baking pans.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, salt, and cocoa powder together.

3. Put the chocolate, butter and instant espresso powder in a large bowl and set it over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and smooth. Turn off the heat, but keep the bowl over the water and add the sugars. Whisk until completely combined, then remove the bowl from the pan. The mixture should be room temperature.

4. Add 3 eggs to the chocolate mixture and whisk until combined. Add the remaining eggs and whisk until combined. Add the vanilla and stir until combined. Do not overbeat the batter at this stage or your brownies will be cakey.

5. Sprinkle the flour mixture over the chocolate mixture. Using a rubber spatula (not a whisk), fold the flour mixture into the chocolate until just a bit of the flour mixture is visible.

6. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and smooth the top. Bake in the center of the oven for 25-30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out with a few moist crumbs sticking to it. Set on wire rack to cool 10 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool completely.

Peanut Butter Frosting:

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream

Place the confectioners’ sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium-low speed until creamy, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as you work. Add the cream and beat on high-speed until the mixture is light and smooth.

Chocolate Frosting:

  • 6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled (I let it cool about 1 hour, stirring occasionally)
  • 4 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar (no need to sift)
  • 3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 6 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 4 T Frangelico

Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse to incorporate. Process until the frosting is smooth.

To assemble cake, cut brownie layers so they have nice flat tops. Place one layer on your cake pan and top with half of the peanut butter frosting. Place another brownie layer on top of that and frost with remaining half of peanut butter frosting. Top with last brownie layer then frost entire cake with chocolate frosting! Top with crumbled Reese’s and eat away!!

Nutella, ella, ella

After this past weekend, even though it was filled with delicious food and all the pastries in the world, I was craving something super chocolatey and rich! I was settled on basic brownies with my favorite peanut butter frosting when I realized how much peanut butter and overall nuts I had eaten recently so decided to switch to something with Nutella. It seemed perfect; still satisfy that nut butter craving while also accomplishing the chocolatey goodness I desperately wanted! Also, I knew last night was going to be a super late one at work so I wanted to utilize the crock pot so we’d have dinner ready as soon as we got home! I saw a recipe on (my new fav) Pinterest for a Balsamic Pot Roast type thing….and since I loooove balsamic so much, I figured I’d give it a try! Not gonna lie, the brownies turned out to be amazingly delicious however the roast, not so much! It was just so greasy and lacking something. I did use a beef brisket which I know is a fattier cut of meat, but the grease was almost inedible (although sadly didn’t stop either of us, but definitely gave us stomach aches all night)!

Nutella Cream Cheese Brownies:

Brownies:

  • 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
    1 t salt
    2 T cocoa powder (I used dark to enhance the chocolate flavor)
    11 oz dark chocolate, chopped
    1 cup butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
    1 t instant espresso powder (optional but really brings out the chocolate flavor)
    1½ cups sugar
    ½ cup brown sugar
    5 eggs, room temp
    2 t vanilla extract

Nutella Cream Cheese Layer:

  • 1 cup Nutella
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 4 T butter, softened

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter the sides and bottom of a 9×13 pan. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, salt, and cocoa powder together. Put the chocolate, butter and instant espresso powder in a large bowl and set it over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and smooth. Turn off the heat, but keep the bowl over the water and add the sugars. Whisk until completely combined, then remove the bowl from the pan. The mixture should be room temperature. Add 3 eggs to the chocolate mixture and whisk until combined. Add the remaining eggs and whisk until combined. Add the vanilla and stir until combined. Do not overbeat the batter at this stage or your brownies will be cakey. Sprinkle the flour mixture over the chocolate mixture. Using a rubber spatula (not a whisk), fold the flour mixture into the chocolate until just a bit of the flour mixture is visible. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

For the Nutella Cream Cheese layer: Beat cream cheese and butter together until smooth. Beat in Nutella, until smooth and incorporated. Slowly beat in powdered sugar until no lumps and all is smooth. Pour over brownie batter. Bake in the center of the oven for 20-25 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out with a few moist crumbs sticking to it.

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Balsamic Roast with Onions:

  • 2-3 pound beef brisket or eye of the round roast
  • seasoning salt
  • garlic powder
  • onion powder
  • pepper
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 2 large onions, sliced thickly

Season beef with salt, garlic, onion and pepper. Heat cast iron skillet with olive oil until hot. Sear meat on both sides. You want a really nice brown crust, so give it time to brown, at least a few minutes each side. Meanwhile, cut onions into thick slices and place in the bottom of the crock pot. Also, heat beef broth in saucepan, boiling until reduced from 1 cup to 1/2 cup liquid. Once reduced, remove from heat and add in balsamic vinegar and tomato sauce. When meat is done, transfer to crock pot, on top of sliced onions. Deglaze pan the meat was seared in with 1/4 cup water, scraping all the flavor crystals from the bottom of the pan. Add pan drippings to balsamic mixture. Pour over beef and onions in the crock pot. Cook on low 7-8 hours. Serve over mashed potatoes if you like!

As I mentioned, this was not my favorite recipe. If I ever make it again, I would definitely use a leaner meat and add in more veggies to soak up some of the juices.  The mashed potatoes helped, but not all that much! I plan on using the leftovers for a sandwich, melting some cheese on the top and using some of the caramelized onions….I am hoping that this might be the way to eat this, rather than over potatoes! We shall see!

Times of Sorrow…

Being from an Italian family, everything somehow involves or relates to food in some way. Food is a to celebrate, to mourn, to bring people together. This means that during times of wakes and funerals, food is in abundance…and maybe it’s just the way I was raised, but it always does make me feel at least a little better! Unfortunately, my best friend lost her grandfather last week and services were held over the weekend. I was unable to attend the funeral Saturday morning so decided to bake up a few things to bring them Sunday morning, just to say I love you and was thinking about you. Her dad is not a big sweets guy, so I baked up another loaf of the same beer bread I made a few weeks ago. Also, her sister Amy lives in Oregon and last time she was in, I had baked a banana bread but was already in bed when they called me to see if they can come and have some so for her, I made a banana bread with crumb topping and lastly, just for the extra sweet tooth in all of us, my own version of a homemade Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. I hope they enjoyed the goodies, but most importantly, I hope they know I was thinking about them and am very sorry for their loss.

Banana Bread with Crumb Topping:

  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • dash of salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 large bananas, mashed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 t vanilla
  • For crumb topping:
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 – 3/4 t cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened

Preheat oven to 350, grease a 9X13 loaf pan. Sift or whisk together flour, soda, cinnamon and salt. In a separate bowl, beat oil and sugar together until sugar dissolves. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla, then mashed bananas. Alternate adding dry ingredients and buttermilk to wet ingredients, ending with dry. For crumb topping: mix flour, oats, cinnamon and brown sugar together until incorporated well. Using a pastry blender, fork or two knives, cut in butter until moist crumbs form. Pour into greased loaf pan and top with crumb topping. Bake 45-50 minutes.

Homemade Reese’s

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter, room temp/softened
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 3 T peanut butter

Grease an 8X8 baking pan or line with foil and spray foil. Combine butter, peanut butter, graham cracker crumbs and powdered sugar. Mix well. Press into bottom of pan. Melt chocolate and peanut butter together in a double boiler or in microwave. Once melted and smooth, pour over graham cracker crust. Let cool to room temperature, then put in fridge for at least an hour before cutting to allow bars to set.

Beer Bread with Cheddar and Garlic:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 T sugar
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 1 t salt, divided
  • 10 ounces or 1 1/4 cups beer (guess you’ll just have to drink those last two ounces)!
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese
  • 1 t garlic powder, plus more for top
  • 1 t onion powder, plus more for top
  • 1 t mustard powder, plus more for top
  • 1 T butter, melted

Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, garlic powder, onion powder and mustard powder. Slowly mix in beer with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until just combined. Do not over-mix. Add in cheese, until just combined. Pour (I use this word lightly as the batter is very thick and will not ‘pour’) into a 9X5 loaf pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm area for 30 minutes. The dough will puff lightly and grow a little in the pan. Brush the top with the melted butter and sprinkle seasonings over top. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes.