Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Delightful Dark Chocolate Cake

This chocolate cake is to die for ... delicious ... divine ... delectable ... delightful .... Okay, that's all the d words I can think of that make it sound super good! I made this dark chocolate cake for Father's Day. My dad loves chocolate and seems disappointed any time I make a dessert that doesn't include it so this time I went all out with a dark chocolate cake and chocolate frosting. I did sneak a little bit of non-chocolate in there by adding a raspberry buttercream filling. All the flavors together make one mouthwatering, appetizing cake! I topped it with candy coated chocolate sprinkles to give it that festive touch.

I used a chocolate cake recipe from Paula Deen's Best Desserts magazine. I also used the frosting recipe it called for except I cut it in half since I was only frosting the cake with it, not filling it. The cake recipe is called the Ultimate Dark Chocolate Cake, and the frosting is Rich Dark Chocolate Frosting. I can't seem to find it online, but I can send you the recipe if you want it, or break down and type it up if people want. It's one of the best cakes I've made!

The cake makes enough batter for three 9-inch rounds; I learned during this cake baking experience that my oven does NOT hold three 9-inch round cake pans! So I had to cook the cakes in two batches. Also, I tried something new with these cakes. I always have issues with cakes doming or cracking so I invested in some Magi-Cake Strips that promised an even cake. I think they worked. My two cakes that I made first with the strips turned out perfectly even, and the one I made last without the strip had a slight dome on top. They were worth the investment! (And when I say investment, I think they only cost $10 or something. Not expensive. You can probably even get them cheaper through eBay rather than where I bought them, at Williams Sonoma. It was a spur-of-the-moment purchase; I just had to have them along with sprinkles.)

The raspberry buttercream recipe came from Jamie at My Baking Addiction. She made some tempting raspberry lemon
cupcakes that I wanted, so I decided to try out the frosting first as the filling. Just to break up the chocolate a little bit. I loved this buttercream! It's out of this world good. I just wish I would have used a little bit more raspberries. When paired with three dark chocolate layers, the raspberry flavor gets lost a tad. Next time I'll add more raspberry extract. If you do decide to use it as a filling and not frost the whole cake, you only need to make half the recipe. Or even a third if you're only filling between two layers. Also, because the structure of the frosting wasn't a big deal since it was going between cake layers, I omitted the shortening and subbed butter. Mine wasn't as pink as Jamie's; maybe that's because I didn't use enough raspberries. However, it still turned out tasty!

I highly recommend trying this buttercream recipe if you're on the search for one. Here's the link for
the buttercream: http://www.mybakingaddiction.com/raspberry-lemon-cupcakes/

Such a pretty cake. I think I might have to go have a piece now!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Chocolate Malt Brownies

I haven't made brownies in ages, and I happened upon a brownie recipe in Paula Deen's Best Desserts that made me want a brownie again. I used to make brownies all the time; my husband loves them probably more than any other baked good and I think I just grew sick of them. Plus, I always made them from a mix, never venturing a made from scratch version. But this recipe from Paula Deen drew me in with a thick chocolately brownie topped with chopped Whoppers. They just looked so good I had to try out the recipe!

I started to worry when I saw the recipe calls for unsweetened chocolate. Then I saw that I had to add a cup of brown sugar and a cup of white sugar, so I knew it would e
nd up being sweet enough! After mixing everything together, I loved the batter. (I know, I say that in pretty much every post! Eating the batter/ dough is my favorite part of baking!) However, I did think it was lacking something, so I added about 1/2 a teaspoon of vanilla extract and that improved the taste for me. The batter was very thick so I spooned it into the pan and stuck it in the oven.

As you might have read, my oven and I don't always get along. It likes to burn things; I like to curse at it. We've found kind of a middle ground when it comes to most things, but it still likes to burn food every once in awhile. I kept a close eye on these brownies; checking them like a crazy person the whole 35 minutes they cooked! Luckily I was the only one home so no one could laugh at me. And, luckily for everyone else, the brownie
s didn't burn. The whole pan came out perfectly, even the edges.

Waiting until
the brownies cooled was torture. I was itching to try one! But I was a good girl and waited until they cooled completely ... okay, I might have a sneaked a taste in there! ... made the frosting, topped with the Whoppers then waited some more until they were set. The wait was worth it though - these brownies are scrumptious! If you like brownies and love chocolate, you'll love these! Now excuse me as I go and eat another one.

Chocolate Malt Brownies
Adapted from Paula Deen's Best Desserts

Ingredients for Brownies:
3/4 cup butter
6 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 cup sugar
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup malted milk powder (I used the chocolate version)
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (not in recipe, but I added)
1 cup Whoppers, chopped, plus extra for garnish

How To for Brownies:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a 13x9-inch pan with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray.
In a small saucepan, combine butter and chocolate. Cook until melted and smooth stirring frequently. Set aside to cool.
In a large bowl beat sugars, malted milk powder and eggs at medium speed until fluffy.
In a small bowl combine flour and salt. Gradually add to sugar mixture, beating until combined.
Add melted butter/chocolate mixture, beat until combined.
Stir in Whoppers.
Spoon batter into pan and bake for 23 to 27 minutes or until set. (Mine took 35 minutes!)
Let cool completely.

Ingredients for Frosting:
6 tbsp butter
3 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped (I used semi-sweet)
3 cups powdered sugar (I didn't use quite this much)
1/3 cup whole milk (I used 2%)

How To for Frosting:
In a medium saucepan, combine butter and chocolate. Cook over medium heat stirring constantly until melted and smooth.
Remove from heat.
Whisk in sugar until combined.
Gradually add in milk until frosting reaches spreadable consistency.
Spread on cooled brownies, top with Whoppers, let set and eat!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

White Chocolate Orange Macaroons

Growing up I would love when my mom would make coconut macaroon cookies. I thought they were one of the best cookies, and they were a nice break from all the chocolate chip cookies she usually would make. She was never much of a fan of making them so we wouldn't have them all that often, but I always remember just loving them. They were so light, airy and sweet. So when I saw a recipe for coconut macaroons in the Just Desserts magazine from Paula Deen I knew I had to make them.

This recipe isn't just the plain coconut macaroon that I recall from my childhood; this has white chocolate chips and orange zest. I wasn't sure about the orange zest so I went really light on it and probably only added 1/4 of a teaspoon rather than the full teaspoon the recipe calls for. The cookies ended up with just a hint of orange; perfect in my opinion!

As I was I making thes
e, I figured out why my mom never liked making them. They take forever! With just a few ingredients I thought they'd be simple, but you have to beat the egg whites and sugar a very, very, very long time to get stiff peaks to form. I'm not even sure I got stiff peaks; I gave up after about 15 minutes with just about, almost there stiff peaks! The cookies still turned out though, and I remember a few batches my mom made that didn't turn out because they weren't beat properly. Thank goodness this batch turned out!

The end result was ex
actly what I was craving. The light, airy coconut macaroon I remembered, but with the addition of yummy white chocolate chips. I'm glad I went light on the orange zest, and next time I might just leave it out all together. It didn't fit with what I like most about coconut macaroons. But the cookie itself is very tasteful, very coconut-y and a nice detour off my usual chocolate cookie path.

White Chocolate Orange Macaroons
Adapted from Paula Deen, Best Desserts
3 egg whites
1 cup sugar
1 (14 oz) package sweetened flaked coconut

1 cup white chocolate chips

1 tsp orange zest (I only used about 1/4 tsp)

How To:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. (Very important!)

In a large bowl, beat egg whites with mixer on high speed until foamy.
Gradually add sugar; beating until stiff peaks form. (Be patient; this takes awhile.)
Gently stir in coconut, white chocolate chips, and orange zest until combined.

Spoon mixture onto the prepared cookie sheets.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until edges are golden brown.
Let cool on pans for 2 minutes.

Remove from pans and cool completely on wire racks.

Eat, and enjoy!

Yields: 2 dozen cookies (my batch turned out to be about 2 1/2 dozen cookies)

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Red, White and Blue Cupcakes

I'm posting this about a week late. I meant to post it closer to Memorial Day, but I never got around it! Here is what I made for Memorial Day~ Red, White and Blue Cupcakes!

I started off with making pumpkin streusel cupcakes. I did pumpkin flavored cake, a layer of cinnamon sugar streusel, another layer of cake, then topped it off with the streusel again. They looked so pretty at this point I didn't think they needed frosting!

But I couldn't decorate them for the holiday without some frosting so I made a cream cheese frosting. Yum! I think this might become one of my favorite frostings. I would use it more often if I didn't have to keep it refrigerated, but it sure tastes good. I just don't like the taste of cold cupcakes, but the frosting might have made the cold cupcake worth it!

Luckily, I made some extra frosting so I'm storing it in the freezer for something else. Not sure what, but I'm sure I'll make something soon that will need a dollop of cream cheese frosting! It would taste good on graham crackers or as on topping on fresh berries, or maybe I can make those cinnamon rolls I've been dying to try and use the frosting on top ... so many yum
my ideas!

I covered the cupcakes with the frosting, used some red, white and blue sprinkles, then topped them off with a candy star I made earlier in the day from candy melts and star candy molds. Perfect way to commemorate the holiday!

Now I might have to go and thaw out that cream cheese frosting it sounds so good right now ...

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Oreo Truffles

Oreo cookies are one of my favorite cookies. In fact, they are one of the few very I will buy from the grocery store. You rarely will seen any other prepackaged cookies in my house. When I saw a recipe posted on Bakerella's website for Oreo Truffles I knew I had to try them. Oreo cookies, cream cheese and vanilla flavored candy melts all equal yum in my book!

Not only are these Oreo Truffles delicious, they are super easy to make as well. Messy, but easy. They require no baking. Just lots of crushing, mixing and dipping. We can all handle that right? If you have dogs like me you might want to kick them out from under your feet. I dropped many, many cookie crumbs on the floor. You
don't want your dogs to get into those chocolate crumbs!
I think I'll have to make these again sometime soon. Especially for a get-together. I could easily impress with these babies! They taste delicious, and they look awesome. Next time I'm going to try the mint Oreos and dip them in chocolate candy melts. Sounds good already!

A couple of notes:
I used a whole package of double stuffed Oreos because that's what I usually buy and what my hand normally gravitates toward in the grocery aisle. If you have a "I only can buy double stuffed Oreos" condition similar to mine, try only adding 6 ounces of cream cheese and see if that's enough to hold together. I just threw in the whole 8 ounce package, and my mixture was very soft and super sticky. I would recommend starting with 6 ounces, try to roll them into balls and see if it's enough and if not add more. If you do need the whole package, stick the rolled up balls in the freezer until firm. I think mine were in the freezer for about 30 minutes or so.

I double dipped the tops of my
truffles so they would look a little more smooth. Double dipping makes them a little bit harder to bite into, but worth it if you want to impress. You don't see as many imperfections or crumbs showing through the white coating. Also, just drizzle some chocolate candy melts on top for that extra special touch!

And don't forget that these have to stay refrigerated since they have cream cheese in them! I hope you enjoy them as much as we did.

The recipe is below for quick reference, and make sure to check out Bakerella's site for the whole recipe and step by step pictures! http://www.bakerella.com/grocery-item-goes-gourmet/

Oreo Truffles
1 package Oreo Cookies
8 oz cream cheese softened
Vanilla flavored almond bark or candy melts

How To:
Crush the Oreo cookies as finely as possibly in a large bowl.
Add in the softened cream cheese and mix well.
Start rolling the mixture together into small bite size balls.
Place the balls into the freezer until set, about 10 minutes.
Melt the almond bark per package directions.
Dip the Oreo balls into the melted vanilla bark.
Drop onto waxed paper, and let set.
Place in airtight container and store in the refrigerator.
Eat and enjoy!

Makes about 36 truffles.