Posts tagged ‘dessert’

January 18, 2012

Hershey Kiss Peanut Butter Blossoms

These are one of those classic cookies that everyone knows and loves – they look impressive with that hunk of chocolate in the middle and have that great chocolate-peanut butter combination going for them!

After the Holidays stock up on Clearance Kisses to make these (the wrappers get taken off, no one has to know if they were from one holiday ago!) You can even take the Peanut Butter to the next level by using the individual Reese’s Cups in these (both Rich & Mom preferred the Reese’s version) but make sure you roll your balls on the larger size to be able to fit that cup. I bet that you could make these ‘gourmet’ by using the Dark Chocolate Kisses too!

Hershey Kisses Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies

from Hershey’s – makes about 3 – 4 dozen

  • 1 bag Hershey Kisses (can also use Reese’s cups)
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 3/4 cup  Creamy Peanut Butter
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Granulated sugar

Heat oven to 375°F. Remove wrappers from chocolates.

Beat shortening and peanut butter in large bowl until well blended. Add both sugars; beat until fluffy. Add egg, milk and vanilla; beat well. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt; gradually beat into peanut butter mixture.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in granulated sugar; place on ungreased (can use parchment if you would like) cookie sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Immediately press a chocolate into center of each cookie. They will crack around edges. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely.

"wait - let me fix them before you take the picture!"

One  Year Ago – Pasta Fagioli

And I leave you with this, Today’s Question of the Day… what is your favorite “classic cookie” to make or eat?

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August 24, 2011

“Classic” Chocolate Whoopie Pie

Rich LOVES Whoopie Pies. His mom picks them up for him every time we have a trip to the lake & she gets them from a small Amish Bakery stand. The stakes were high so I have avoided making him Whoopie Pies for quite a while now…

Thanks to Sweet Pea for coming through though, on a recipe I knew would work….

Rich’s analysis is as follows the cake “kicks the Amish Cake’s butt” but the filling was “awesome, but a little lighter in texture”. I think that next time I might try to make a variation of my S’mores Cupcake Frosting with the addition of some meringue powder to fluff it more?

There are so many different variations of Whoopie Pies, and they are quickly becoming more and more popular! They are super easy to make & travel well (especially since I wrap them each individually and they can even be frozen to last longer). These travel much more easily than cupcakes (but not as easily as bar cookies). They may not be quite as fancy as this awesome cake or this cake or even this cake – but I think most everyone (besides dad) will love them just as much. I’m willing to continue experimenting, any ideas?

Chocolate Whoopie Pie

makes 24 2″ pies – or about 15 3″ ones (like I did)

  • 1 ⅔ cups all-purpose flour
  • ⅔ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1½ teaspoons baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable shortening
  • 1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup milk

Preheat to 375°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter, shortening and brown sugar on low speed until just combined. Increase the speed to medium and beat until fluffy and smooth, about 3 minutes.

Add the egg and vanilla and beat for another 2 minutes. Add half of the flour mixture and half of the milk to the batter and beat on low until incorporated. Add the remaining flour mixture and milk and beat until combined. Drop by tablespoons of batter onto the prepared baking sheets at least 2 inches apart

Bake one sheet at a time for about 10 minutes each, or until the rounds spring back when pressed gently. Remove from the oven and let the cakes cool in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool completely.
  • 1 1/2 cups Marshmallow Fluff
  • 1 1/4 cups vegetable shortening
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

To make the filling: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the marshmallow fluff and the vegetable shortening, on medium speed until the mixture is smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the confectioners’ sugar and the vanilla and beat on low until incorporated. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes more.

Using a knife or spoon, spread the filling onto the flat side of a cooled cake. Top with another cake, flat side down. Repeat with the remaining cakes and serve.

And I leave you with Today’s Questions… what is your favorite dessert to bring with you to feed your loved ones?

August 3, 2011

Chocolate Mocha Cake

My dad’s FAVORITE cake is Chocolate Mocha Cake (from Susan’s Catering) but I knew that I could at least attempt to make a cake to equal it, and that dad would appreciate a home-made cake over a store-bought cake any day, even if it did not turn out perfectly. For my dad’s retirement party (yay, so proud of you dad – the guy that taught me it’s ok to experiment in the kitchen and who loves to cook but does not enjoy reading & doesn’t even read my blog. But its ok – mom does, hi mom!) I knew that making this cake for him was the only option!

A few years ago my Aunt Pat gave me Death by Chocolate Cakes – and wow is there good stuff in there (great cookbook for all you chocolate addicts – get it, seriously), so I knew thats where I had to go to find this cake (which I had sticky-noted immediately after receiving the book). The recipes in the book are not quick or easy, but they are totally worth the time that they take!

This cake took me two days to make (although I could have made it one really long day) – so be prepared for a minor time investment, but trust me that the results are worth it. Dad actually retired a few months ago, but after devoting so much time to creating the cake, it took me a little bit to take the time to get ready to type this recipe in. My Aunt Sandy has not stopped talking about this cake since I made it and has been bragging about it & begging me to finally post it – so here we go, get ready for a lot of reading and once you read it: you might not be able to resist the urge to make it!

“Excessively Expressive Espresso Ecstasy”

recipe taken directly from Death by Chocolate Cake by Marcel Desaulniers!

Cake

  • 5 oz unsalted butter (cut into 1/2 ounce pieces plus 1 T melted)
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 6 oz semisweet baking chocolate (coarsely chopped)
  • 3 oz unsweetened baking chocolate (coarsely chopped)
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup instant expresso powder (or instant coffee)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 T pure vanilla extract

Pre-heat oven to 350 and lightly coat four 9 inch nonstick cake pan with the melted butter & the place a round of parchment (or wax) paper & then lightly coat that with more melted butter

Combine (& sift) flour, baking powder, & salt. In another container melt the chocolates and the rest of the butter either in the microwave OR in a double boiler. (to melt in the microwave: use 1/2 power and microwave for just 30 seconds at a time).

Place the sugar, eggs & expresso powder in your electric mixer. Beat on medium heat for 2 minutes until thick. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides. Add the melted chocolate mixture and mix on medium to combine (about 30 seconds). Keep mixer on low while adding your (sifted) dry ingredients, about 30 seconds. Add the sour cream & vanilla for about 20 seconds. Remove from the mixer and finish combining with a spatula.

Immediately divide the batter into the prepared pans (about 1 1/2 cup into each) and spread evenly. Bake in the top/center of the oven until a toothpick inserted in the center comes clean, about 22 minutes (warning: mine was done at this point & was slightly dry – so check at 20 minutes). For more even baking: rotate 1/2-way through baking time. Let cakes cool for 15 minutes in the pan and then invert the cakes to finish cooling. Peel paper from the bottom of the cakes. Place layers in the fridge to cool until ready to use.

Chocolate Ganache

  • 12 oz semisweet baking chocolate (chopped coarsely)
  • 4 oz unsweetened baking chocolate (chopped coarsely)
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 T granulated sugar

Place your chocolates into a large bowl. Heat the heavy cream & sugar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Once hot stir to dissolve the sugar and bring to a boil (continue stirring lightly to avoid burning). Pour boiling cream over chocolate and set aside for 5 minutes then stir with a whisk until smooth.

Transfer 1 1/2 cups of the ganache to a baking sheet with sides and spread evenly. Set aside the baking sheet and the bowl at room temperature to use when needed

Expresso Mousse

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup instant expresso powder (or instant coffee)
  • 4 oz unsweetened baking chocolate (chopped & melted: bowl at half power in the microwave, stopping to stir at 30 second intervals)

Put heavy cream, sugar, and expresso powder in the bowl of your electric mixer with a balloon whisk. Run on medium-high heat for 2 minutes until firm (but not still) peaks for. Take 1 1/2 cups of the whipped cream and add it to the melted chocolate. Use rubber spatula to fold together until combined. Add the combined cream/chocolate with the remaining whipped cream and fold together until combined.

Assembling the cake

Remove the cake layers from the fridge. Use a cake spatula to spread about 1 1/2 cups of the mousse evenly/smoothly over the top  of 2 of the layers. Transfer the ganache from the baking sheet to the top of a 3rd cake layer and use cake spatula to spread evenly over top (refrigerate the rest of the mousse until the end of cake assembly process).

Place one of your Mousse Layers on your cake plate. Place the ganache layer on top of the first mousse layer. Top with the second mousse-coated layer. Place the final (plain) cake layer on top of the stack. Press down on the layers gently so you have an even, beautiful, cake! Refrigerate for an hour until the layers have firmed

Once cake has set take out the cake and spread the ganache over the top and sides of the cake. Refrigerate for another 30 minutes. If you didn’t transfer the cake to a serving platter, you can do so at this point.

Now it is time to decorate! Use a mixture of expresso beans (food processed to make chunky beans) and sliced (crumbled by hand) almonds around the outside of the cake (just lightly pressing around the outside). Then fill a pastry bag with a large star tip  with mousse and pipe evenly spaced stars around the cake. Top the cake with a few chocolate-covered espresso beans. Place in the fridge for at least an hour before serving. To get the best slices: heat the blade of your serrated slicer and heat/wipe clean between slices.

And I leave you with the question of the day… What have you spent hours doing for a loved one just because you knew they would love it?

June 29, 2011

Strawberry Cake

I went strawberry picking (twice) last week. I knew it was late in the season so I wanted to get as much out of it as possible.

basket of berriesOn Saturday we picked about 8 pounds: about 3 pounds went into refrigerator jam, I froze about a pound for smoothies (gone already) and I’m not really sure where the rest went – I guess we ate a lot! So just four days later on Wednesday I dragged Mom out to the fields and brought home about 5 more pounds. I had found this Buttermilk Strawberry Cake and knew that I wanted to make it so made sure to put some berries aside. Besides this cake, we ate (and drank in smoothies) a lot more berries again the rest of the week.

basket full of red berry goodnessI’m telling you – you just can’t beat the taste of fresh-picked berries. Strawberries from the store have a super strong yummy taste but the fresh berries are super sweet and have a more subtle and natural flavor! This year the strawberries in our area were very tiny because of the super wet spring. The smallness of the berries made it a little harder to pick and prepare: but did nothing, in my opinion, to the tastiness of the berries!

I decided to make this cake for my parents who were babysitting the pups while we were away with friends/family for the weekend. While I had all the ingredients out and the oven heated up, I decided to whip up another cake to bring to the beach with us to go along with the other breakfast goodies.

My dad said this cake was awesome warmed back up with some of the strawberry jam I had given them over top (and just for good measure – he put some vanilla ice cream between the layer of strawberry cake and strawberry jam).

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dog damage

Dad was not the only one who enjoyed this cake.

I had the cake (and Snickerdoodle Muffins AND Banana Carrot Whole Wheat Muffins) all cooling on the table. Upon walking toward the kitchen I heard some “slurping” and walked in to see Donner (our Flat Coat Retriever) with his head tilted in a perfect angle to get his tongue to the side of the cake….

He immediately stopped when I screamed at him (and I guess we should be happy that at least all 4 legs were on the ground and he wasn’t hopping up on the table)! The cake which we brought south with us ended up arriving with a slab cut off the side in order to protect everyone from dog slobber (except for Rich who decided it is his dog and the cake was too good to let some slobber ruin it).

SO, this cake is: dog, father, boyfriend, & friend approved – enjoy!

Strawberry Buttermilk Cake

  • 1 cup cake flour (AP flour is fine, too)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup well-shaken buttermilk
  • 1 cup fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced

Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in middle. Butter and flour a 9-inch round cake pan.

Beat butter and 2/3 cup sugar with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes, then beat in vanilla. Add egg and beat well.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. At low speed, mix in flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour, and mixing until just combined.

Spoon batter into cake pan, smoothing top. Scatter berries evenly over top (I think next time it would work even better to just cut them in half if you have smaller berried like these and just push them in farther) and sprinkle with remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar.

Bake until cake is golden and a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack and cool to warm, 10 to 15 minutes more. Invert onto a plate.

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And I leave you with this classic Beatles Quote: “Let me take you down, ‘cos I’m going to Strawberry Fields. Nothing is real and nothing to get hung-about. Strawberry Fields forever.”

June 27, 2011

Snickerdoodle Muffins

This past weekend we were away with friends to celebrate Rich’s sister’s & future brother-in-law’s bachelorette/bachelor weekend. I volunteered (was volunteered?) to make some breakfast goodies for everyone who were staying at the condos (yay for friends with beach houses). I already had found these Snickerdoodle Muffins and had them bookmarked from Melissa Bakes – so I knew exactly what to make!

It turned out that the bachelor’s favorite cookie ARE snickerdoodle so I could not have chosen a more perfect breakfast muffin for him. Now I warn you – these are not the “get you going & healthy” type of muffin (I made those too, more on that another day). These are more of a “I love to have something sweet and naughty for breakfast” kind of muffin!

I almost had to beat Rich & his future brother-in-law in order to keep them away from the muffins to allow everyone to get them. (Which I later found out not everyone did even get one. Thats ok – I have had requests to make them next month for pre-wedding breakfast at that beach condo with the same awesome group of people). Actually: come to think of it, there may have been some smacking of hands as the boys tried to sneak these the night before and I yelled at them that they had to play fair & that they were for breakfast. I guess that just goes to show how yummy these are!

I know that these are a sweet muffin based on a cookie, but I wish that there was a way to make them healthier… what do you think about subbing out one stick of butter for applesauce!?

Snickerdoodle Muffins

Yields: approx. 18 – 24 muffins (can also be made as mini-muffins)

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 ¼ cups flour
  • ¾ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoons baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoons cream of tartar
  • ½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • ¼ cups buttermilk
  • ⅔ cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line 18 muffin cups with paper liners & set pan aside.

In the bowl of a mixer, combine the butter and sugar and cream until fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and combine.

In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Add half of the dry ingredients to the mixing bowl and stir to combine. Add the sour cream and buttermilk and mix to combine. Add the rest of the dry ingredients and mix until you have a smooth batter.

In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon for the topping.

Use an ice cream scooper and plop a scoop of batter into the bowl with the sugar and cinnamon. Gently roll the batter in the sugar and cinnamon. Place the ball into the paper liner. When you have completed all of the muffins, sprinkle the leftover cinnamon sugar onto the tops of all of the muffins.

Bake the muffins at 350ºF for about 16-18 minutes (I had to err on the longer side) or until they are golden on top and just baked through.

And I leave you with this question to ponder: If you could pick a classic treat & maybe alter it slightly so you could eat it as a part of one of your meals every day – what would that food be?

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