Category Archives: Cakes

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!

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!!

Best. Cake. Ever.

Ok, well it is the best cake I’ve made at least, maybe not the best I’ve ever had! In honor of Julia Child’s would-be 100th birthday, I finally buckled down and made her Reine de Saba chocolate cake I have been dying to make forever now! Reine de Saba simply means chocolate almond cake….and what better combination than nuts and chocolate!? (Hence my peanut butter obsession)! I saw this recipe ages ago and have been wanting to make it ever since, the pictures look so delicious…a creamy, chocolatey piece of heaven! I followed her recipe exactly, only difference is that I used dark chocolate instead of semi-sweet and used coffee instead of rum since I do not have any dark rum (I’m a Bacardi silver light rum girl)! Also, since the chocolate is the main flavor of the cake, I recommend using a good quality chocolate, not just any old brand!

Reine de Saba Cake:

Original Julia Child recipe

  • 4 oz. or squares semi-sweet chocolate melted with 2 Tbsp. rum or coffee (I used dark chocolate…good quality Godiva to be exact)!
  • 1 stick softened butter, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 3 egg whites
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup pulverized almonds
  • ½ tsp. almond extract
  • ½ cup cake flour

Glacage au Chocolat (Chocolate Butter Glaze):

  • 2 oz  semi-sweet baking chocolate (I also used the same Godiva dark chocolate here as well)!
  • 2 Tbsp. rum or coffee
  • 5 to 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour an 8X8 cake pan.

Set the chocolate and rum or coffee in a small pan, cover, and place (off heat) in a larger pan of almost simmering water; let melt while you proceed with the recipe. Measure out the rest of the ingredients.

Cream the butter and sugar together for several minutes until they form a pale yellow, fluffy mixture. Beat in the egg yolks until well blended.

Beat the egg whites and salt in a separate bowl until soft peaks are formed; sprinkle on the sugar and beat until stiff peaks are formed.

With a rubber spatula, blend the melted chocolate into the butter and sugar mixture, then stir in the almonds, and almond extract. Immediately stir in one-fourth of the beaten egg whites to lighten the batter. Delicately fold in a third of the remaining whites and when partially blended, sift on one-third of the flour and continue folding. Alternate rapidly with more egg whites and more flour until all egg whites and flour are incorporated.

Turn the batter into the cake pan, pushing the batter up to its rim with a rubber spatula. Bake in middle level of preheated oven for 25 minutes. Cake is done when it has puffed, and 2 1/2 to 3 inches around the circumference are set so that a needle plunged into that area comes out clean; the centre should move slightly if the pan is shaken, and a needle comes out oily.

Allow cake to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pan, and reverse cake on the rack. Allow it to cool for an hour or two; it must be thoroughly cold if it is to be iced.

For the glaze:

Combine chocolate and rum in small metal bowl. Set bowl over small saucepan of barely simmering water and stir until melted and smooth. Remove bowl from over water. Using wooden spoon, beat in butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, until icing is smooth. Place bowl over medium bowl filled with ice water. Continue to beat until icing is cool and thickened to spreading consistency.

Place cake on platter. Scrape icing onto top center. Using small offset spatula, spread icing evenly and thinly over top and sides of cake. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome and store at room temperature.

                               

 

As mentioned, this is one of the best cakes I have ever made…even though it has a little bit of flour in it, it has the consistency of a fudgy, dense flourless chocolate cake! It is almost a combination of a gooey brownie and moist, dense cake! It is delightful! And the glaze is ever so delicious, adding that much more flavor! Such a rich cake and the almond taste really comes through…absolutely divine! I cannot believe I waited this long to make it!

Elvis Cupcakes!

Well they are not exactly Elvis cupcakes but they do contain peanut butter and banana! But, knowing me, I had to throw in a little bit of chocolate! I saw a pin on pinterest the other day for chocolate chip banana cupcakes and thought what a great way to use leftover bananas instead of making yet another banana bread! I also figured that bananas pair so darn well with peanut butter that why not top the cupcakes with that ever so delicious peanut butter frosting I have raved about more than a few times now! And as usual, I was licking that bowl clean as clean can be….most addicting frosting ever! Since we are on the topic of Elvis, I think I mentioned in the very first blog I wrote about my all time favorite sandwich…the Elvis…aka, fried peanut butter and banana! So for old times sake, I will re-post that recipe so I can reminisce since it’s been a while since I’ve made one…until this weekend when I change that!

Chocolate Chip Banana Cupcakes:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • Dash of salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, room temp
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 t vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs, room temp
  • 2 bananas
  • Bag of chocolate chips (I used milk chocolate because it’s all I had but dark would be amazing as well)…dust with a tablespoon of flour

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Sift or whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl or stand mixer bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Add in eggs one at a time, beating until incorporated. Add in milk and vanilla, then mashed banana. Slowly beat in dry ingredients until just incorporated. Fold in chocolate chips and fill muffin pan 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 15-17 minutes.

These turned out to taste absolutely amazing however, I can’t believe I am about to even say this, but I added in too much chocolate! Even dusted with flour, all the chocolate clumped together and sank to the bottom of the cupcake (as evidenced in the photo)! The delicious chocolatiness was great with the banana and peanut butter but it made for a very dense, heavy cupcake with a glob of chocolate at the bottom!

And as promised, my famous, delicious, most-amazing sandwich recipe ever: (sidenote, measurements are difficult to predict here since I just make this willy-nilly whenever I have a craving so change them up as you feel fit, these are just approximations anyways)!

The Elvis:

  • 1 Banana, sliced
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 T butter
  • Peanut butter
  • 2 slices sturdy bread
  • 2 T butter

Melt butter in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add in bananas and sugar, cooking until bananas are caramelized from the sugar. Meanwhile, while those are cooking up, spread peanut butter on two slices of bread and butter on the other…I realized this is difficult but I usually do the butter first then set that side down on the plate and add the peanut butter to the other sides. It doesn’t matter if some of the butter smears off onto the plate since you will be adding more to the pan anyways! Remove from pan, leaving any liquid in pan and lower heat to medium low. Add a few more tablespoons of butter into the pan and let melt. Add one of the slices, butter side down into the pan and top with the caramelized bananas. Finish the sandwich with the other slice of bread, peanut butter side down and cook until both sides are browned, flipping once! Another option is to sprinkle some sugar onto the buttered sides of the bread to add a nice brown caramelization to it as well. Absolute heaven in your mouth, trust me!!

 

Tempura Cake?!

I wanted to try something a little bit different the other day and was craving a rich piece chocolatey cake! I wanted to make that divine peanut butter frosting I have already posted about a few times now, but ate the apartment out of peanut butter that morning, however, I did have a giant, family sized Nutella in the cupboard so decided to improvise a little and use the same recipe but with Nutella in place of peanut butter! Also, I wanted to change up the filling and have a nice crunchy surprise, getting inspiration from the crunchy chocolate filling typically found in ice cream cakes. All in all, the cake turned out wonderful, just like what I was going for; very rich, very chocolatey, very crunchy and very satisfying! My husband and good friend Joe referred to the cake as ‘tempura cake!’ 

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Chocolate Cake (adapted from Ina Garten):

  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cups dark chocolate cocoa powder
  • 2 t baking soda
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs, room temp
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1 cup strong coffee or espresso

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour two cake pans or line with parchment paper.

Add 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 a small amount of the coffee to temper the mixture then add the rest slowly, just until combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 minutes. Cool in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes, then turn out onto racks to finish cooling. Let cool completely.

Crunchy Filling:

  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 T  sugar
  • 1 cup Nutella
  • 2 T butter, room temp
  • 3 ounces chocolate chips (1/3 – 1/2 a bag)
  • 1 cup Rice Krispies

Lower oven temperature to 325 degrees. Trace the shape and size cake pan you used onto a sheet of parchment paper or aluminum foil and lay it on a large baking sheet. (For example, I used two 8-inch round cake pans so I traced an 8-inch round circle on foil and placed it onto a baking sheet).

In a food processor, pulse the almonds with the powdered sugar until they’re finely ground and combined well. In a bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites at medium speed until soft peaks form. Add the granulated sugar and beat until the whites are stiff and glossy, takes a few minutes. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the almond mixture. Spread the meringue on the parchment or foil to fill the shape you traced out. Bake for about 15 minutes, until lightly browned and firm. Let cool.

In a double boiler (or however you want to really), heat the peanut butter with the butter and milk chocolate, stirring constantly, until smooth and melted. Remove from the heat and stir in the Rice Krispies. Spread the mixture all over the meringue rectangle. Transfer to the freezer and let cool completely.

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Nutella Frosting:

  • 1 cup Nutella
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 5 T butter, softened/room temp
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream

Beat Nutella and butter until smooth. Gradually add in powdered sugar, beating until smooth and combined. Add vanilla and cream, beating until combined. 

Once cake is cool and filling is chilled, place one cake layer, top down (cutting top off if necessary so that it is smooth and flat, placing cut side down if cut), onto a serving plate. Flip chilled meringue onto cake, peel off parchment or foil. Put other cake, top side (or cut side) down so top is smooth and flat on top of meringue. Cover with Nutella frosting, and ENJOY!!

 

Weddings, Speeches and Cakes, Oh My!

My best friend is married…welcome to the club Em!! I had the honor of being Emily’s maid (matron sounds so old) of honor for her wedding last Friday evening. What a beautiful wedding it was too, she looked absolutely stunning and everything was just perfect…75 degree weather, gorgeous venue, amazing band and of course, delicious cake! Em had an idea a while back that her and I bake the cakes for the wedding and that her and Joe (the groom) would only have a small cake to cut into for pictures. Everyone thought we were crazy taking on such a huge and important task however, it turned out to be an amazing idea and not only made a great looking dessert table but we got a ton of compliments to boot! I ended up making four different cakes and frosting combinations, including red velvet with cream cheese frosting, german chocolate with coconut pecan frosting, marble cake with chocolate frosting and a cinnamon crumb cake. Em ended up making a pistachio cake with cream cheese frosting and a banana cake with Nutella frosting. Here is a pic of the dessert table:

I have already posted the Red Velvet recipe from Em’s wedding shower but here it is again!

Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting:

Cake:

  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 T cocoa powder (heaping)
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 1/2 t baking soda
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 t vanilla
  • 1-2 ounces red food coloring
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 t vinegar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9X13  baking pan. Beat butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time.  Add in vanilla and red food coloring. Sift together flour, cocoa, and salt. Mix together baking soda and vinegar. Alternately add buttermilk and flour, ending with flour. Beat in vinegar mixture. Pour into prepared pan and bake 35-40 minutes.

Frosting:

  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 8 oz butter, softened
  • 3 1/2 – 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 t vanilla

Cream butter and cream cheese together. Add in vanilla and powdered sugar, mix until smooth. Frost entire cake, eat and enjoy!!

German Chocolate with Coconut Pecan Frosting:

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

Heat oven to 350°F. Cover bottom of 9X13 pan with waxed paper; spray sides with cooking spray. 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 racks. Cool completely.

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

Beat egg yolks, milk and vanilla in large saucepan with whisk until well blended. Add sugar and butter; cook on medium heat 12 min. or until thickened and golden brown, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add coconut and nuts; mix well. Cool to desired spreading consistency. Frost entire cake!

Cinnamon Crumb Cake:

  • ½ cup brown sugar divided
  • 1 ½ cups plus 5 T granulated sugar, divided
  • 3 t ground cinnamon, divided
  • 1 ½ cups chopped walnuts, divided
  • 2 cups plus 7 T cake flour, divided
  • ½ lb. (2 sticks), plus 5 T butter, divided
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 ¾ t vanilla, divided
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • ½ T milk

Directions: heat oven to 350, 9X13 inch pan. Combine ¼ cup brown sugar, 2 T granulated sugar, 1 tsp. cinnamon and ½ cup chopped walnuts for filling, set aside. In bowl, combine 7 Tbs. flour, 3 Tbs. granulated sugar and remaining brown sugar, cinnamon and nuts. Using 2 knives, cut in 5 T butter until crumbs form. In bowl of electric mixer, cream remaining butter, gradually adding eggs, 1 ½ t vanilla and remaining granulated sugar. Beat 2 mins. In separate bowl, combine baking soda, baking powder, and remaining flour. Add flour mixture to butter mixture. Beat in sour cream. Mix 1 min. Pour ½ batter into pan, sprinkle reserved filling over batter. Top with remaining batter and crumb mixture. Bake 45 mins, let cool. In bowl, combine powdered sugar, milk, and remaining vanilla. Drizzle icing over cake.

The marble cake was a little more difficult since I had to make two cake batters, chocolate and vanilla.

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.

Yellow Cake:

  • 4 cups plus 2 t cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1 t salt
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 t vanilla
  • 4 eggs,  room temp
  • 2 cups buttermilk, well-shaken

Preheat oven to 350°F. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, then beat in vanilla. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well and scraping down the bowl after each addition. At low-speed, beat in buttermilk until just combined (mixture will look curdled). Add flour mixture in three batches, mixing until each addition is just incorporated.

Add a 1/4 cup of chocolate to center of 9X13 pan. Follow with 1/4 cup yellow cake. Repeat until pan is 3/4 full (there will be extra chocolate and yellow batter left over…I just made some cupcakes to have around for the weekend)! The important thing here is to make sure that both batters are the same consistency. If not, the runnier one will spread more and the cake will be dominantly that color, instead of marbled throughout. Either way it will still taste good though!!

Thick, Rich, Chocolate Frosting:

  • 6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 4 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 sticks butter, room temperature
  • 6 T milk
  • 1 T vanilla

Add butter to mixer with whisk attachment, beat until light and fluffy. Add in powdered sugar, whisk again until fluffy and incorporated. Add in cooled, melted chocolate, milk and vanilla extract.  Frost entire cake!

Em and I use the same pistachio cake/bread recipe…it was her mom’s recipe and comes out perfectly every time…so here is that one as well! But I’ll have to get the banana one from Em to share with you guys since it was soooo good!! Josh and I were lucky enough to taste test that one out before the wedding!

Pistachio Cake:

  • 1 pkg instant pistachio pudding
  • 1 pkg yellow cake mix
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup water or milk (I always use milk)!
  • 1/4 cup oil

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9X13 inch pan or line with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray.  Beat all ingredients together, pour into prepared pan and bake 40 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean. Let cool in pan 30 minutes, turn out onto wire rack, cool completely. Frost with cream cheese frosting (recipe above)!

My beautiful friend Colleen modeling the red velvet, banana and pistachio cakes!