Sunday, February 28, 2010

My Favorite Cake (for right now)

Pumpkin Streusel Cake
I've made this cake three times, and every time it never fails me. I always have the same two results:
1.) It falls apart when I take it out of the pan, and
2.) It tastes delicious!

To some of you it might seem as if I'm making it out of season since it's the end of February, but my thought is why can you only eat pumpkin foods at Halloween and Thanksgiving? I think pumpkin can be enjoyed any time of the year!

This is a yellow cake, mixed with pumpkin, eggs and butter, layered with a flour, cinnamon and brown sugar streusel. I found the recipe in a holiday cook book that my local grocery store gave away back in 2005. My mom made it then and I thought it tasted good. However, I waited until 2008 to attempt it on my own. I've now made it three times. For some reason the cake falls apart every time I take it out of the pan. I don't think it's because its not done because I wait until the toothpick comes out clean. I wonder if I should leave it in the pan for awhile longer than 15 minutes after taking it out of the oven. I'll try that next time. But now I'm going to go and have a piece of this pumpkin cake!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Taco Thursday

I love, love, love Mexican food. Especially tacos. Yum, yum, yum! (I also like writing words three times in a row I guess for this post!) I started making my own taco seasoning about a year ago, and I think have finally perfected it for my tastes. I never have been a fan of the packet seasoning; mostly because I loathe (loathe, loathe!) onions. I like to say I'm allergic, but I wouldn't die if I had one. Just would have to run to the bathroom throwing up because that's how much I hate them. Well, all taco seasoning packets that I've come across have onions in them - powder or dehydrated - so I decided to make my own. Plus, I now am able to make the tacos as spicy or non-spicy as I want! I like adding cayenne pepper spice to amp up the spiciness! Here's a picture of my tacos from last night. Every Thursday (that we're home) is Taco Thursday in our house. Yesterday I decided to make them even better by frying up some corn tortillas until slightly crisp. I love tacos like this, but sometimes feel bad about all the oil I'm consuming when eating them! However, these tacos were delicious!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Chocolate Pudding Cookies

Who would have thought that adding a chocolate pudding mix to a cookie recipe would end up in the most delicious cookies ever? Not me! I was searching through some recipes on the Tasty Kitchen blog, just reading up and trying to find something interesting, when I came upon the recipe for Chocolate Pudding Cookies. The cookies looked so delicious I had to try them! I ran out to the grocery store and bought some instant pudding mix. The cookies turned out so, so, so yummy! This picture is from the second batch I made over the weekend. I had some white chocolate and semi-sweet chocolate swirl chips leftover from a previously failed experiment, so I thought I'd try these instead of the usual milk chocolate chips I gravitate toward. I think these chips were made for this cookie! This recipe is definitely becoming a staple in my house!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Valentine's Cake Bites

For Valentine's Day I really wanted to make heart shaped cake bites. I thought they would be oh so cute dipped in red and pink candy melts. I had to search and search though for a small heart shaped cookie cutter. I should have started my search about a month earlier so I could have ordered one online! I finally had to settle on a two-piece cookie cutter that had a smaller heart inside of a bigger heart. It worked just fine!

I started off with making a yellow cake and then added pink gel food coloring until it became a nice hot pink color. Then, I mixed the cake with vanilla frosting dyed pink to make sure that the cake bites would stay pink. Next, I formed them into hearts. Pretty, pink hearts!

The next step was to dip the bottoms of the hearts into chocolate flavored almond bark. Then, after those hardened, I dipped the tops of the hearts into either red or pink candy melts and topped each one with a heart shaped sprinkle.

As you will see in the pictures the hearts aren't quite as smooth as they should be (or, probably more accurate, as I want them to be). If I do these again like this I'm going to start with the colored candy melts so this side stays more smooth since the chocolate bottoms were nice and smooth. Or, I could find a cookie cutter and a candy mold that are the same size and make them that way with only having to dip once. That would be the easiest solution I think!

I love how
cute they look on the outside. All pretty in pink and red dressed up for Valentine's Day, and then you bite into them and you get more pink! You can't go wrong with all this pink!!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

S'more Cupcakes

Reading through a recent Bakerella post, I saw a recipe for s'more cupcakes. They sounded oh so good and I knew I had to try them out. I love s'mores, and since it's hovering around 20 degrees (or colder) here in Minnesota I knew I wouldn't be outside sitting around a fire pit any time soon so I thought these would be the next best thing!

I used the recipe she laid out step-by-step to make the c
upcakes. As I was mixing the chocolate batter, I thought it seemed super duper thick, too thick. I decided to read through the comments to see if others had this issue, and I found out that the thickness was normal. However, I also saw that many people had issues with the cupcakes collapsing after removing from the oven. I started to get worried that this would happen to me since I have bad luck with baked goods more often than not! But, I thought of a plan ....

I started off with four cupcakes as a test. I layered the graham cracker batter first like Bakerella did.

Then, I skipped the graham cracker crum
b topping and marshmallow, and just spooned the chocolate next. I popped them in the oven at this point.

After five minutes, I took the cupcakes out a
nd topped them with three mini marshmallows and the graham cracker topping.

I stuck them back in the oven for about 12 minutes. They looked so awes
ome at this point! None of them fell, and they didn't stick to the pan so they were easy to remove. They were so pretty!

I went ahead and continued making the rest of the cupcakes. I got 12 more from the recipe. I did the steps exactly the same expecting the same results. Expect, I forgot to spray Pam on the top of the pan! I don't blame this for all that happened, but I do blame forgetting this step on the difficulty of removing the cupcakes!

After I took these cupcakes out of the oven, I started to notice that some of them were collapsing in the middle. Oh no! These weren't nearly as pretty as the first four! I don't know why these collapsed and the others didn't, but it was kinda disappointing.

finally got them all out of the pan after lots of tugging a
nd prying, and I thought overall they looked pretty good. I would guess about six or so collapsed right away. So less than half so those are okay odds! I wish I knew why this batch collapsed unlike the first four so I knew what to correct for next time. Hmmmm ....

The taste of these cupcakes is delicious!!! I decided against any kind of frosting since the tops looked so cool with the graham cracker crumbs. The top is nice and crunchy, and the bottom part of the cupcake is soft and mois
t. Yum, yum!! Check out Bakerella for the recipe if you're in the mood for some S'more Cupcakes!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Disaster Birthday Cake

Let me start this post by stating that I had many great ideas for my husband's birthday cake. I debated between quite a few recipes I had found and finally decided on a cake I thought would be perfect. Little did I know the headache, frustration and some tears that this cake would bring me. My hands, my walls, my counters and even my sweater sleeve (I chose to wear white unwisely!) were covered in chocolate and marshmallow as I made this Disaster Cake (appropriately named I believe).

The cake started off nicely on Sunday afternoon. Out came three perfect layers of chocolately goodness. I used the Pioneer Woman's Chocolate Sheet Cake recipe that I used previously for cupcakes. The only thing I had to do wa
s slice off the edges that got a little crispy and the layers domed very little so I didn't worry about leveling them at all. I put the cakes in the fridge overnight so I could start the filling and frosting process the next day.

Monday around 11 a.m. I started working on the filling. My husband loves Hostess cupcakes and H
o Hos so I chose a marshmallow filling. After lots of beating with my electric mixer, I finally got a filling that resembled and tasted like marshmallow. It was yummy!

And then disaster struck. As I started layering the cake, the marshmallow seeped out of the layers, running down th
e sides. First the top layer slid off, then the next layer. I kept pushing them back together and marshmallow was everywhere! At this point, I thought it was very funny!

I had already mixed up the chocolate ganache fr
osting, but I didn't really know what to do. How could I frost this crazy marshmallow mess?! I started off by pouring the cooled ganache on the top of the cake thinking I could just frost the top of the cake and leave it with the marshmallow oozing out. It wouldn't look great, but it would be okay. However, the ganache wasn't cooled enough and it started dripping, in globs, on top of the marshmallow. It didn't look very tasty; not what I wanted to portray for this cake! This is where the frustration began. What could I do to save this cake? How could I save it from being a huge disaster no one wanted to eat? (Every picture I had at this point has been deleted so no one can see what the cake at it's biggest disaster stage looked like!)

I started carving the edges of the cake off (and taste testing the marshmallow chocolate yumminess!). Cutting the pieces where the globs of chocolate adhered to the marshmallow. I made more chocolate ganache frosting, and covered the cake in a thick layer of frosting. You can still see the marshmallow through some of the frosting, but at least the seeping had stopped!

By t
he time everyone arrived, the cake looked okay. The ganache had hardened and it was ready to be served. As I cut into the first slice I was happy to see that some of the marshmallow had stayed in between the layers so you could still at least somewhat taste the filling! And man, this disaster of cake was delicious!