Friday, December 31, 2010

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

These cookies are in all of my baking cookbooks and appear to be somewhat of a classic, but for some unknown reason I have never made them before.  The dough is more like a brownie batter, but it firms up enough to make cookie dough balls once it is refrigerated.  Do not skip the refrigeration step or you may end up with a big mess.  The finished cookie has a nice chewy, brownie-like texture and looks great as well.
Adapted slightly from King Arthur Flour

1 1/3 cups (8 ounces) chopped bittersweet chocolate
1/2 cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter
2/3 cup (4 3/4 ounces) sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon espresso powder (optional)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 2/3 cups (7 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 cup (or more) confectioners' sugar (for coating)

1. Place the chocolate and butter in a small saucepan or microwave-safe bowl, and heat or microwave until the butter melts.  Remove from heat and stir until the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth.

2. In a separate bowl, beat together the sugar, eggs, vanilla and espresso powder. Stir in the chocolate mixture, baking powder and salt, then the flour just until incorporated.

3. Chill the dough for 2-3 hours or overnight.  The dough will firm up considerably.

4. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

5. Put about a cup of confectioners' sugar into a shallow bowl.  Scoop out heaping teaspoon-sized portions of dough and roll into balls (about 1 1/4 inch in diameter). Drop the dough balls in the confectioners' sugar as you go, coating about 5 or 6 balls at a time.

6. Place the coated dough balls on a parchment lined cookie sheet, leaving about 1 1/2 inches between the balls. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the edges are set.  Cool on a wire rack.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Seven Layer Bars

There are seven layers of deliciousness in these bars, which makes for a super rich and decadent treat.  I generally cut them into fairly small squares because they are so sinful!  These were a lovely (and popular) addition to my holiday cookie tins this year.
 Let's review the seven layers.  Layer 1: graham cracker crumb crust.
Layer 2:  semi-sweet chocolate chips.
Layer 3:  butterscotch chips
Layer 4:  white chips.
Layer 5:  walnuts.
Layer 6:  sweetened condensed milk.
Layer 7: shredded coconut.
Simple and delicious!

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup butterscotch chips
1/2 cup white chips
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 1/3 cups shredded coconut

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Coat a 13 x 9 inch pan with cooking spray or line pan with foil.

2. In a small bowl, mix graham cracker crumbs and melted butter until crumbs are moistened.  Press crumb mixture into bottom of prepared pan.

3. Layer chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, white chips, and walnuts over crumbs. Pour condensed milk over the chips and nuts.  Sprinkle coconut over the condensed milk.

4. Bake until edges are golden brown, about 25 minutes.  Cool completely before cutting.

Friday, December 24, 2010


These bars remind me of high school cross country (which was looong ago, I might add).  Every week before our meet, the team would have a spaghetti dinner and there were always scotcheroos for dessert.  I ate lots and lots of these bars in high school, and they continue to remain a favorite of mine.  These are not fancy, but the combination of crunchy cereal, smooth peanut butter, and the creamy chocolate topping is addicting!
From Nestle Classic Recipes

1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
6 cups toasted rice cereal
1 2/3 cups (11 ounces) butterscotch chips
1 cup (6 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Coat a 13 x 9 inch baking pan with cooking spray.

2. Combine sugar and corn syrup in large saucepan.  Cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until melted.  Add peanut butter and stir until peanut butter is melted and combined with the sugar mixture. Remove from heat.  Add cereal; stir until thoroughly coated. Press into bottom of prepared baking pan.

3. Microwave butterscotch chips and chocolate chips in large microwave-safe bowl for 1 minute; stir. Microwave at additional 10- to 20-second intervals, stirring until smooth. Spread over cereal mixture.

4. Refrigerate for 15 to 20 minutes or until topping is firm. Cut into bars.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Chocolate Chip Pecan Pie

I am not sure if I have ever actually made a pecan pie before.  However, since I now live in the South, I feel like I should have a go-to pecan pie recipe (or chocolate chip pecan pie recipe).  I made this pie for a co-worker's last day at the office.  He is a native Texan, and of course he loves pecan pie.  This recipe turned out great, and my co-workers gave it a big thumbs up.  If you are feeling daring, you can add a tablespoon or two of bourbon to the filling mixture.

From Hannah's Kitchen

1 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs
1 cup (6 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups pecan halves
1 prepared pie shell

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a bowl, beat together the corn syrup, sugar, butter, vanilla, and eggs.

3. In the bottom of the pie crust, neatly arrange pecans and sprinkle chocolate chips over the pecans. Slowly pour syrup mixture into the pie shell, on top of the pecans and chocolate chips.

4. Place pie on cookie sheet and bake for about 1 hour, checking after 45 minutes.

5. Pie is done when top is a deep golden brown and filling is set.  Cool completely before serving.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Tunnel of Fudge Cake

This cake rose to popularity after the recipe was entered into the Pillsbury Bake-off sometime in the 1960s.  Pillsbury discontinued the packaged frosting mix that was used in the original recipe, so bakers everywhere (or maybe not everywhere - I have nothing to back this claim up) set out to re-create this classic.  The first time I attempted to make this cake I was using a terrible quality bundt pan, the cake didn't come out of the pan, disaster ensued, and I ended up with tunnel of fudge cake balls.  Now I have a nice, high quality Nordicware anniversary bundt pan, and all is right with the world.  The cake turned out to be deliciously dense and rich.  The fudge center tasted almost like brownie batter.  Do not omit the nuts from this recipe, as they are important to achieving the proper consistency.
 This picture isn't great, but it does a nice job of showing off the fudgy center.
Adapted from The America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book

1/2 cup boiling water
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups walnuts, chopped fine
2 cups confectioners' sugar
3/4 cup Hershey's Special Dark cocoa powder or Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
5 large eggs, room temperature

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
1/3 cup heavy cream, hot
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch salt

1. Adjust oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a 12-cup bundt pan or spray pan liberally with bake release spray.

2. Whisk the boiling water and chopped chocolate together in a small bowl until melted and smooth.  Let the mixture cool slightly.  In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, nuts, confectioners' sugar, cocoa, and salt together.

3. In a large bowl, beat the butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla together with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy - about 3-6 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until combined, about 1 minute. Beat i the chocolate mixture until combined, about 30 seconds. Reduce mixer speed to low and slowly beat in the flour mixture until just incorporated, about 30 seconds.

4. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Wipe any drops of batter off the sides and gently tap the pan on the counter to settle the batter. Bake the cake until the edges begin to pull away from the sides of the pan and the top feels springy when pressed with a finger, about 45 minutes.  Do not overbake.

5. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then flip it out onto a wire rack to cool. Let the cake cool completely, about 2 hours.

6. For the glaze, whisk all of the glaze ingredients together in a medium bowl until smooth. Let sit until thickened, about 25 minutes.

7. After the cake has cooled completely, drizzle the glaze over the top and sides of the cake.  Let the glaze set, about 25 minutes, before serving.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Toll House Chocolate Chip Pie

If you are looking for a super easy and super tasty pie recipe, look no further.  I have been meaning to try this recipe for a while, and finally got my rear in gear and baked it this past week.  The pie tastes like a big gooey cookie, and would be wonderful served warm with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Adapted slightly from Nestle Toll House

1 unbaked 9-inch (4 cup volume) deep dish pie shell
2 large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup (6 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

2. Beat eggs in large mixer bowl on high speed until foamy. Beat in flour, granulated sugar, and brown sugar. Beat in butter. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts. Spoon into pie shell.

3. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until knife inserted halfway between the outside edge and center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack. Serve warm.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Lemon Pistachio Biscotti

I love biscotti!  This recipe makes a nice crunchy cookie with lots of big flavors.  If your pistachio nuts are salted, omit the salt called for in the recipe.  Enjoy!

From Better Homes and Gardens Biggest Book of Cookies


1/3 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons lemon zest
1 1/4 cups pistachio nuts

1 cup sifted powdered sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1-2 tablespoons lemon juice

1. Grease a large cookie sheet and set aside.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

2. In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar, baking powder, and salt. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in eggs and vanilla until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in any remaining flour and lemon zest with a wooden spoon. Stir in pistachio nuts.

3. Divide dough into three equal portions. Shape each portion into an 8-inch-long roll. Place rolls at least 3 inches apart on prepared cookie sheet and flatten to about 2 1/2 inches wide. Bake at 375 degrees F for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown and tops are cracked (loaves will spread slightly). Cool on cookie sheet for 1 hour.

4. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees F. Transfer rolls to a cutting board. Use a serrated knife to cut each roll diagonally into 1/2-inch slices. Place slices, cut side down, on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 8 minutes. Turn slices over and bake for 8 to 10 minutes more or until dry and crisp (do not overbake). Transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool.

5. For the lemon icing combine powdered sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice to make an icing with a drizzling consistency.  Once cookies are cool, drizzle with icing.  Allow icing to dry before storing.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween Pumpkin Cakes

Happy Halloween!  These fun and festive little cakes are super cute and fairly easy to make.  I made mine using large chocolate cupcakes, but you could really use any flavor you like. 

1. Depending on how big you want your pumpkins, make a batch of large cupcakes, regular cupcakes, or mini bundt cakes.
2. Make a batch of your favorite white icing while the cupcakes cool.  Tint the icing orange.  Make sure to serve a small portion of the icing to tint green for the tops, or just buy some green icing in a tube from the grocery store.
3. Take one large cupcake and cut the top off so it is flat.  Cover the flat top with orange icing.  Take another large cupcake and cut the top off.  Place the cut side down on top the icing.  Trim around the edge with a knife to make the cake more round.  Finally, cover the cakes with orange icing and make a stem with green icing.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Key Lime Pie

Last weekend we had a dinner party to attend and I offered to make dessert.  We were having a big Southern meal so I wanted to make something that wouldn't be too heavy.  I love key lime pie, but have never actually made it, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity.  This recipe really is fabulous and everyone seemed to enjoy it.  If you don't want to take all the time necessary to juice the key limes, Nellie & Joe's Key Lime Juice is a surprisingly delicious substitution and really speeds up the process.

Adapted from Joe's Stone Crab

1 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
5 tablespoons melted butter
1/3 cup sugar

3 large egg yolks
1 1/2 teaspoons key lime zest (zest of 2 key limes)
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
2/3 cup freshly squeezed key lime juice

1 cup cold heavy cream
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch round pie plate.

2. Combine the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, and sugar.  Press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of the pie pan.  Bake the crust until set and golden, about 8 minutes.  Set aside on a wire rack.  Leave the oven on.

3. Using the high speed of an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks and lime zest at high speed for 5 minutes. Gradually add the condensed milk and continue to beat until thick, 3 or 4 minutes longer. Add the lime juice and stir until combined, then pour the mixture into the crust.

4. Bake pie for 10 minutes or until the filling has just set.  Cool on a wire rack, then refrigerate.

5. Once the pie has cooled, whip the cream and confectioners' sugar, and vanilla until stiff peaks form.  Spread whipped cream over the pie or pipe around the edges.

6. Before serving, freeze the pie for about 20 minutes, then cut and serve.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Texas Sheet Cake

Since I have lived in Texas for more than two years now, I figured it was about time that I make a Texas sheet cake.  This recipe definitely makes a lot of cake and would be good for a picnic or cookout.  I knew it was dangerous for me to keep this much cake in the house, so my husband and I each ate a piece and then I took the rest of the cake to work.  It was well received at the office, and I will not hesitate to use this recipe again.
Adapted from Cookie Madness

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups minus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter
1/3 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
1 cup water
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda

1 pound (about 3 3/4 cups) confectioners' sugar
1 stick unsalted butter
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsweetened natural cocoa powder
7 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 15x10 inch jelly roll pan.

2. Mix the flour, sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl and set aside.

3. Melt butter in a small to medium size saucepan. Stir in the cocoa powder and water and bring to a boil. Pour the boiling cocoa mixture into the bowl with the flour mixture and mix with a spoon until blended.

4. In a second bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla, buttermilk, and baking soda. Add the egg mixture to the cocoa mixture and stir until blended - do not overmix.

5. Pour batter into the pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. As soon as you pull the cake from the oven, start making the frosting.  To get a head start, you may want to sift the confectioners' sugar while the cake bakes.

6. For the icing, sift confectioners' sugar into a mixing bowl and set aside. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. When butter is almost melted, add the 4 tablespoons cocoa powder and 7 tablespoons milk and bring just to a boil. As soon as the mixture reaches a boil, remove from heat. Stir in vanilla extract. Pour the cocoa mixture into the bowl of sifted confectioners' sugar and whisk together until smooth.  Work quickly so that the frosting does not start to set up in the bowl.  Once the frosting is smooth, pour the frosting over the warm cake.  Allow cake to cool and frosting to set up before serving.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Marble Cupcakes

I recently baked some banana cupcakes for a baby shower, but I felt like I should also bake some cupcakes that were a more traditional flavor to take along as well.  That's where Martha Stewart comes in.  I baked her marble cupcakes.  They were fine, but nothing memorable or spectacular.  These are versatile and can be covered in a variety of icings.  I chose to use a chocolate icing and added some matching decor.

From Martha Stewart's Cupcakes


1 3/4 cups cake flour, sifted
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup milk, room temperature
1/3 cup heavy cream, room temperature
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/4 cup boiling water

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line standard muffin tins with paper lines. Sift together cake flour, baking powder, and salt. Combine milk and cream.

2. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and granulated sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of milk mixture, and beating until combined.

3. To make chocolate batter, measure out 1 cup batter, and transfer to another bowl. Combine cocoa and the boiling water in a bowl. Stir into reserved 1 cup batter.

4. Fill prepared cups with alternating spoonfuls of vanilla and chocolate batter, filling each three-quarters full. Run the tip of a paring knife or wooden skewer through batter in a figure-eight motion to make swirls. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until tops are golden and a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Unfrosted cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months in airtight containers.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Banana Cupcakes

For some reason, my husband and I have been doing a terrible job of eating bananas before they become overripe.  I have developed a habit of tossing the overripe bananas into the freezer, intending to use them at a later date for some unknown purpose.  The bananas are taking over, so I have drawn the line.  No more bananas can be added to the freezer supply!  Luckily, there was a baby shower at work just as my bananas were approaching that deliciously overripe stage.  I decided to make banana cupcakes for the shower and they turned out to be quite tasty.  I used a cream cheese icing, but you could also use vanilla or chocolate.  These cupcakes would also be good with a handful of mini chocolate chips thrown into the batter as well.

Adapted from


1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup mashed ripe bananas
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. For the cake: In a large mixing bowl, cream shortening and sugar. Add eggs, vanilla, bananas, and buttermilk. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Add flour mixture to banana mixture until just combined. Pour batter into 18 paper-lined muffin cups until cups are two-thirds full. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean.  Remove from oven, let stand for 10 minutes, then remove cupcakes from pan and cool on a wire rack.

3. For the icing: Beat softened cream cheese and butter until well blended. Add powdered sugar and vanilla and beat until smooth and creamy.  Ice cupcakes only after they have cooled completely.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Peanut Butter Chocolate Layer Cake

I had a birthday in July and this is the cake I chose to make to celebrate.  I absolutely love the combination of peanut butter and chocolate and this cake fits the bill.  The peanut butter icing is rich without being too sweet, and would also taste delicious spread over a pan of chocolate brownies.


For the Cake - I used this classic Hershey's recipe that never fails: I made one and a half times the recipe and baked as directed in three 9-inch round pans.

1 cup butter softened

2 cups creamy peanut butter (not natural)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons milk, or more as needed
5 cups powdered sugar

8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
8 ounces heavy cream
1 teaspoon corn syrup

1. Bake cake and set aside to cool completely.

2. For the icing: Beat butter and peanut butter until creamy.  Add vanilla and beat until incorporated. Gradually beat in powdered sugar, adding milk as icing becomes stiff. Use more milk if necessary to achieve desired consistency. Beat for 2-3 minutes until fluffy.

3. For the ganache glaze: Place chopped chocolate in a bowl. Heat heavy cream until almost boiling, then pour cream over the chocolate. Let stand for one minute, then whisk until smooth and silky.  Whisk in corn syrup. Set aside to come to room temperature.

4. To assemble: Frost the three layer cake with the peanut butter icing. Place the frosted cake in the refrigerator while the ganache cools. Once ganache comes to room temperature, remove cake from refrigerator.  Pour some of the ganache onto the center of the top of the cake. Gently spread the ganache until it runs down over the sides. Work quickly because the ganache will begin to harden on the cold cake. You may not need to use all of the ganache to get a nice glaze.

5. Store cake in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Strawberry Cream Cake

My husband and I went to a potluck a few weeks ago, so as usual, I volunteered to make dessert.  This recipe turned out to be a nice summer treat, and it makes for a lovely presentation.

FOR THE CAKE:  I used this recipe:  The only changes I made were to bake the cake in a tube pan, and then cut the cake into three layers after it had cooled completely.

1 Yellow Bundt Pound Cake, cut into three layers

2 Quarts strawberries, hulled and cut in half length-wise
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups heavy cream

1. Set the layers of cake and the hulled and cut strawberries aside.

2. For the cream filling:  In a large bowl, whip the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and salt together with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes.  Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually add the heave cream until combined. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and whip until the mixture forms stiff peaks, about 2 to 3 minutes.

3. To assemble:  Place one of the cake layers on a platter. Arrange a ring of strawberry halves around the outside edge of the cake.  Fill in the rest of the layer with strawberry halves. Gently spread one-third of the cream filling (about 1 1/2 cups) over the top of the strawberries.  Repeat with the middle layer, layering cake, strawberries, and cream.  Place the final cake layer on top and spread with the remaining cream filling.  Arrange strawberries on top in a decorative pattern.

4. This is best served right away, but can be refrigerated for up to four hours.  Bring cake to room temperature before serving.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Cranberry Orange Scones

This was my first attempt at making any type of scone and they turned out surprisingly well.  I've never really been a big scones eater, but I felt like I should give scones a try since people seem to like them and they are a coffee house staple.  I would say I can now officially add scones to my repertoire.
From Hannah's Kitchen

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons orange zest
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, frozen
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup sour cream
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
coarse sugar for sprinkling

1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat to 400 degrees F.

2. In a large food processor bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and zest.  Pulse a few times to combine.  Cut frozen butter into chunks and add to the food processor.  Process until butter is incorporated and the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Stir in dried cranberries.

3. In a small bowl, whisk the sour cream, egg, and vanilla until smooth.

4. Pour the sour cream mixture into the flour mixture and pulse until just incorporated and the dough begins to clump together.  Do not overmix!

5. Place dough on a lightly floured work surface and form into a 7 to 8-inch circle about 3/4 inch thick. Sprinkle with the coarse sugar.  Use a sharp knife to cut dough into 8 triangles.  If the dough is too sticky to cut, spray the knife with cooking spray and then cut the dough.

6. Place the dough triangles about 1 inch apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Bake until golden brown, about 15-17 minutes.  Cool for 5 minutes and serve warm, or cool completely and serve at room temperature.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Red Velvet Cake

This should have been posted long ago, but somehow got lost in the shuffle.  Several of my co-workers were starting a major diet plan on January 1, 2010, so everyone wanted one last piece of cake before the fasting began.  I made this red velvet cake and brought it to work on December 31, and it quickly disappeared.  I particularly enjoyed the icing, as it complements the cake well without being as sickeningly sweet as some other cream cheese icings I have tried.
Another photo for good measure...
From America's Best Lost Recipes

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
Pinch salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons natural cocoa powder
2 tablespoons (one 1-ounce bottle) red food coloring
2 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
4 cups confectioners' sugar
16 ounces cream cheese, cut into 8 pieces, softened
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Pinch salt

1. FOR THE CAKE: Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans. Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk the buttermilk, vinegar, vanilla, and eggs in a large measuring cup. Mix the cocoa with the food coloring in a small bowl until a smooth paste forms.

2. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the butter and granulated sugar together until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the flour mixture and the buttermilk mixture alternately in two batches, beating after each addition until combined. Add the cocoa mixture and beat on medium speed until completely incorporated. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes.  Cool the cakes in the pans 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely, at least 30 minutes.

3. FOR THE ICING: With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the butter and confectioners' sugar until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the cream cheese, one piece at a time, and beat until incorporated. Beat in the vanilla and salt.

4. Spread about 2 cups frosting on one cake layer. Top with the second cake layer and spread the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting. Serve. (The cake can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.)

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Lower Fat Granola

I have recently become interested in making homemade granola.  It is so incredibly expensive to buy, yet so easy (and much cheaper) to make at home.  Plus, it fills your house with a divine aroma as it bakes!  I like to use the oat mixture as a base, and then add different nuts and dried fruit to make new flavor combinations.  You can make lots of substitutions here - just make sure to keep the ratio of oat mixture to liquid mixture about the same.  This recipe is lower in fat than most because it uses only one tablespoon of oil.  If you don't have agave nectar you can substitute additional honey.
From Hannah's Kitchen

2 1/2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup almonds, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon sea salt (omit if your nuts are salted)
6 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
3 tablespoons agave nectar
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 cup dried apricots, diced
1/4 cup dried cranberries

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

2. In a large bowl, mix together the oats, almonds, wheat germ, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt.

3. In a small saucepan, warm the applesauce with the agave nectar, honey, and oil.

4. Mix the liquid into the dry ingredients until thoroughly combined, then spread the mixture evenly onto a rimmed baking sheet.

5. Bake granola for about 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes until the granola is deep golden brown.

6. Remove from oven and cool completely.  Add dried fruit and store in an airtight container for up to one month.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Cinco Leches Cake

My husband celebrated his birthday this past week and he always wants something unique for his birthday cake.  This year he decided tres leches was not enough, and that the magic number of leches was cinco.  So instead of the traditional three milks in a tres leches cake, I kicked it up a notch with two additional milks.  I also made the cake into a layer cake instead of the traditional pan size since I was trying to create a more impressive presentation.  The results were delicious and my husband has declared this to be one of his favorite cakes ever.
One happy hubby.
The inside of the cake.

Adapted from The America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book

3 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups whole milk
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 large eggs, room temperature
3 cups sugar

1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1/2 can (7 ounces) dulce de leche
1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup half and half

2 cups heavy cream
6 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1.  Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 325 degrees.  Grease and flour three 9-inch round cake pans.  Line pans with parchment.

2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon together in a medium bowl. Heat the milk, butter, and vanilla together in a small saucepan over low heat until the butter is melted.  In a large bowl, whip the eggs with an electric mixer on medium-high speed and gradually add the sugar, about 1 minute. Continue to whip the mixture until very thick and voluminous, 4 to 8 minutes.

3.  Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the melted butter mixture until combined, about 30 seconds. Add the flour mixture, in two additions, until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Increase the mixer speed to medium and whip the batter until fully combined and smooth, about 30 seconds.

4. Scrape the batter evenly into the prepared pans, smooth the tops, and gently tap the pans on the counter to settle the batter.  Bake the cakes until a toothpick inserted in the center coems out with a few crumbs attached, 25 to 30 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes.

5.  While the cake is cooling, whisk all ingredients for the milk mixture in a large bowl.  Set aside.

6. Using a toothpick, poke about 50 holes in each warm cake - you do not need to poke all the way through. Slowly pour the milk mixture evenly over the three cakes. Let the cakes cool slightly at room temperature for about 15 minutes, then refrigerate them until the milk mixture is completely absorbed and the cakes have cooled, about 3 hours.

7. Let the cake sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Beat the heavy cream, corn syrup, and vanilla together in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed to stiff peaks.

8. To assemble, soak each cake pan in a hot water bath for 30 seconds to help in the unmolding process.  Turn the first cake out onto a serving platter and top with a thin layer of the whipped cream frosting.  Repeat with the next two cake layers.  Then frost the sides and smooth out the top.  Decorate with maraschino cherries, if desired.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Chocolate Blackout Cake

My nephew, Brady, recently celebrated his 3rd birthday so I of course volunteered to bake the cake.  Since he loves chocolate pudding and chocolate cake, the chocolate blackout cake seemed like it would be right up his alley.  This cake uses a rich homemade choclate pudding as both a filling and icing between layers of dark chocolate cake.  One of the layers of cake is broken up into small pieces and sprinkled over the pudding to create the cake's signature look.  It was definitely very rich and very chocolatey!

Here is the birthday boy getting ready to blow out his candle!

A cake slice on a Cars plate.

From America's Best Lost Recipes

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups half-and-half
1 cup milk
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cups Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 cup brewed coffee, room temperature
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1.  For the pudding - Whisk the granulated sugar, cornstarch, salt, half-and-haf, and milk in a large saucepan. Set the pan over medium heat. Add the chocolate and whisk constantly until the chocolate melts and the mixture begins to bubble, 2 to 4 minutes. Stir in the vanilla and transfer the pudding to a large bowl. Place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding and refrigerate until cold, at least 4 hours or up to 1 day.

2. For the cake - Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour two 8-inch cake pans. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.

3.  Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the cocoa powder and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Off the heat, whisk in the coffee, buttermilk, and sugars until dissolved. Whisk in the eggs and vanilla, then slowly whisk in the flour mixture.

4. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool the cakes in the pans 15 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely, at least 1 hour.

5.  To assemble the cake - Cut each cake in half horizontally. Crumble one cake layer into medium crumbs and set aside. Crumble one cake layer into medium crumbs and set aside. Place one cake layer on a serving platter or cardboard round. Spread 1 cup pudding over the cake layer and top with another layer. Repeat with 1 cup pudding and the last cake layer. Following the photos, spread the remaining pudding evenly over the top and sides of the cake. Sprinkle the cake crumbs evenly over the top and sides of the cake, pressing lightly to adhere the crumbs. Serve. The cake can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Nanaimo Bars - January Daring Bakers' Challenge

The January 2010 Daring Bakers' Challenge was hosted by Lauren of Celiac Teen. Lauren chose Gluten-Free Graham Wafers and Nanaimo Bars as the challenge for the month. The sources she based her recipe on are 101 Cookbooks and  Nanaimo bars are a classic Canadian dessert, and so very appropriate with the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver just around the corner. I opted to use gluten in my bars, but otherwise followed the recipe. These are very rich!

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup granulated sugar
5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 large egg, beaten
1 1/4 cups graham wafer crumbs
1/2 cup almonds, finely chopped
1 cup shredded sweetened coconut

1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons vanilla pudding mix
2 cups powdered sugar

4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1. For Bottom Layer: Melt butter, sugar, and cocoa in the top of a double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, nuts, and coconut. Press firmly into an ungreased 8 x 8 inch pan.
2. For Middle Layer: Cream butter, heavy cream, pudding mix, and powdered sugar in a mixer bowl. Beat until light in color. Spread over bottom layer.
3. For Top Layer: Melt chocolate and butter over low heat. Cool. Once cool, pour over middle layer and chill.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Snickerdoodle Cookies

Snickerdoodles are a classic cinnamon sugar cookie, and happen to be one of my husband's favorites.  I have tried several recipes and this is the one that he likes best.  These cookies bake up nice and crispy around the edges and chewy in the center.


1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, shortening, 1 1/2 cups sugar, eggs, and vanilla.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt. Add flour mixture to butter mixture and mix until just combined.

4. Mix the 2 tablespoons sugar and 2 teaspoons cinnamon in a small bowl.

5. Shape rounded tablespoonfuls of dough into balls. Roll balls in cinnamon mixture and place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are set.  Remove cookies to wire racks to cool.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Lemon Bundt Cake

Happy New Year! The holidays were busy so I fell a little behind in my postings. I made this cake back in December. It has a lovely, fresh lemon flavor and would be great for brunch, tea, or dessert.LEMON BUNDT CAKE

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup buttermilk, room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons fresh grated lemon zest
2 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, cut into chunks and softened
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 large egg yolk, room temperature

1 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon fresh grated lemon zest
pinch salt

1. Adjust an oven rack to the lower middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan.

2. Whisk flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda together in a medium bowl. In a small bowl, whisk the buttermilk, vanilla, lemon juice, and lemon zest together.

3. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 6 minutes. Beat in the eggs and egg yolk, one at a time, until combined, about 1 minute.

4. Reduce mixer speed to low and beat in one-third of the flour mixture followed by half of the buttermilk mixture. Repeat with half of the remaining flour mixture and the remaining buttermilk mixture. Beat in the remaining flour just until incorporated.

5. Scrapte the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Gently tap the pan on the counter to settle the batter. Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, about 50-60 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking.

6. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then flip it out onto a wire rack to cool completely, about 2 hours, before serving.

7. While cake cools, whisk together all glaze ingredients in a small bowl until smooth. Let sit until thickened, about 25 minutes. Pour glaze over the top of the cake after it has cooled completely, letting the glaze drip down the sides. Let glaze set before serving, about 25 minutes.