Sunday, February 27, 2011

Streusel Loaded Coffee Cake

I tend to be drawn to anything with a streusel topping! Whether it be muffins, cobblers, crisps, or coffee cake! Pretty much a guarantee that I will like it if there is streusel topping. And it is likely that I will snatch the piece with the most topping! No need to skimp on such a good thing. Everything is better with a little added sugar on top, right?

As soon as I read that this recipe not only had streusel on the top, but also in the middle (kind of hard to see in the picture), I had to make it! Two layers of cinnamon and sugar goodness! The original recipe had a cup of almonds mixed in the streusel topping,but I just wasn't feeling the nuts today. So I used the streusel topping mix from my mom's recipe for coffee cake. And I just happened to have a little extra cream cheese frosting in the fridge that I drizzled over the top!

This recipe is also from the All Cakes Considered cookbook. The same cookbook where I found the recipes for Chocolate Pound Cake and Sour Cream Pound Cake. I have loved all three these recipes! And there are many more cakes in this book that I want to try!

Cinnamon Almond Coffee Cake

For the cake:
1/4 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup vanilla yogurt
1 teaspoon almond extract

For the streusel:
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
3 tablespoons butter

For the streusel, mix together sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Using a fork cut in the butter until mixed throughout.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray the sides and bottom of an 8 inch square baking pan with cooking spray.

With an electric mixer on medium speed, cream shortening and gradually add the sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

In a separate bowl, dry whisk the flour and baking powder together.

Add a third of the flour mixture to the creamed mixture. Then add 1/4 cup of the yogurt. Repeat once more. And finish by adding the final third of the flour mixture.

Stir in almond extract and beat until well combined.

Spread half of the batter in the prepared pan. Sprinkle half of the streusel topping over the batter. Layer the rest of the batter over the streusel. Sprinkle the remaining streusel over the top.

Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.


Today is my Mom's birthday. Happy Birthday Mom! Yesterday the family got together to celebrate her birthday. She requested a chocolate cherry cake; not to be confused with black forest cake. I went to a copy of my Grandma's handwritten cookbook to find the recipe. After searching and searching for it and coming up empty, I called my Mom only to find out that this
cake was called "Cherry Fudge Bars" so I completely passed it during my search. Upon closer inspection, my Grandma does have "cake" written in the margin. I also found a note that this was from a Pillsbury Bake Off. Not sure when though. I adapted this recipe so that I was able to cover it in fondant and create the zebra affect. Ever since my parents went to Africa she has been a little zebra crazy. I'll explain my adaptations after the recipe. This one is so easy. You'll love it!

1 box Pillsbury Fudge Cake mix
1 can cherry pie filling
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp almond flavoring
Mix the ingredients together. Bake in a 9x13 pan or on a cookie sheet (to make into bars) at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes for the cake and 20-30 minutes for the bars.

1 cup sugar
5 Tbsp butter
1/3 cup milk
1 cup chocolate chips
1 tsp vanilla

Boil the sugar, butter and milk for 1 minute. Stir in the chocolate chips and vanilla until dissolved. Spread immediately.

Easy peasy, right? Instead of baking it in a 9x13 pan, I split the batter between 2 8-inch round cake pans. I baked them for about 40 minutes or so. Clearly the stove top frosting for this cake wasn't going to work on a round cake but I wanted to include the recipe in its fullness. Jess made a whipped ganache filling that was spread between the layers. The cake was then frosted with a chocolate frosting, previously seen on our ladybug cupcakes. The cherry pie filling in the cake makes it so moist and delicious. It was a hit, though my 4 year old nephew did quite see how the striped cake was a zebra. I'm sure he was expecting the full sculpted body. :) It didn't stop him from eating 2 pieces though.

Jess and I covered this cake in white marshmallow fondant. Then we rolled out fondant dyed black and cut out the stripes. We had no particular plan when it came to covering this cake and attempting to make it look like a zebra. Not too shabby if I do say so myself.
Bake on!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

No-Bake Cookies

I immediately think of my Grandma H. when I have one of these cookies! Without fail, every time we went to visit my grandma she would have a container of these cookies sitting on the counter. And they were the first thing I would go for when I walked in the door!

How easy could it possibly get! No baking necessary! You literally plop them on some wax paper and let 'em do their thing!

The biggest trick is to have all of the ingredients measured out before you start the whole process. Because once the chocolate mixture starts to boil you will be throwing in ingredients left and right. And there will be no time for measuring at that point. If you don't move quickly the mixture will begin to cool and they won't stick together when placed on the wax paper. Then you will be left eating it by the spoonfuls straight from the bowl! Actually, not such a bad idea!!

No-Bake Cookies

1/2 cup cocoa
2 cups sugar
1/3 cup margarine
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/2 cups oatmeal
1 cup flaked coconut

1. Measure out the oatmeal into a large mixing bowl and set aside.
2. Measure out the peanut butter and coconut and leave in their respective measure cups.
3. In a medium saucepan, bring cocoa, sugar, margarine, and milk to a boil. Boil for one minute-and not any longer. Remove from heat and immediately stir in peanut butter and vanilla.
4. Add cocoa mixture to oatmeal and stir until combined. Mix in coconut (1/2 cup walnuts can be substituted for coconut if desired.)
5. Drop mixture by the tablespoonful onto wax paper. Let set for about an hour, or until firm, before placing in air-tight container.

Monday, February 21, 2011

"Protect the Cake"

Happy Birthday to my friend and co-blogger, Jess. So of course I made her a cake. I took the opportunity to try a new recipe. I found this recipe in the book Baked Explorations which I had picked up at my local library. While this book is full of some very enticing recipes, I opted to make the "Caramel Apple Cake". While the author writes that he "never made it before August or after January", I broke the little "rule" and went for it. I love the typical flavors of and much so that they can't be limited to fall alone. I know Jess and I share this way of thinking so I knew that she would up for an apple cake. Interestingly enough, Jess was just telling me over lunch today that she was looking for a new pumpkin recipe to try. Great minds think alike. Anyway, on to this delicious cake. This three layer cake is moist, dense and delicious. The caramel buttercream is light and very complimentary to the spiced cake.

For the apple cake:
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground cloves
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, cut into 1 inch cubes, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
4 cups homemade applesauce or store-bought unsweetened applesauce.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter three 8 inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment paper, and butter the parchment. dust the parchment with flour and knock out the excess flour.

Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves together into a large bowl. Set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until creamy, about 4 minutes. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and beat until combined.

Add the flour mixture to the mixer bowl in three parts, alternating with the applesauce, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Scrape down the bowl, then mix on low speed for a few more seconds.

Divide the batter among the prepared pans and smooth the tops. Bake for 40-45 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake come out clean. Transfer the pans to a wire rack and cool for 20 minutes. Turn the cakes out onto the rack, remove the parchment, and let cool completely.
Now, on to the good stuff the "Classic Caramel Sauce". I would make this next so that it has ample time to cool before you make the buttercream.

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cups corn syrup
1/2 cup of butter, softened, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
In a medium saucepan with high sides, combine the sugar and corn syrup with 1/2 cup water. Stir the mixture gently so you don't slosh any of it up the sides of the pan. Turn the heat to medium-high and continue stirring until the sugar dissolves. Increase heat to high, stop stirring, and allow the mixture to boil. Once it begins to turn a rich caramel color, remove it from the heat, add the butter and cream, and stir until combined.

This caramel sauce turned out to be the most challenging task for me. It took me 4, yes 4, attempts at getting this right.

1. I followed the recipe as written. The sugar mixture wasn't turning caramel colored so I assumed that maybe I was supposed to use brown sugar instead of white sugar.

2. Then I made the recipe using brown sugar. Immediately after mixing the ingredients I realized that this wasn't right either.

3. I reverted back to white sugar and watched the mixture turn to a golden yellow. I took my eyes off of it for 30 seconds to a minute and by then the mixture was a dark caramel color and I had burnt it.
4. Success. Note to self and to all of you, watch it carefully.

Alright, now on to the buttercream.

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, soft but cool, cut into small pieces
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons Classic Caramel Sauce

In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the sugar and flour together. Add the milk and cream and cook over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until the mixture comes to a boil and has thickened, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on high speed until cool. Reduce the speed to low and add the butter and vanilla; mix until thoroughly incorporated. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy.

Add 1/3 cups of the caramel and continue mixing until combined. If the frosting is too soft, put the bowl in the refrigerator to chill slightly, then beat again until it is proper consistency. If the frosting is too firm, set the bowl over a pot of simmering water and beat with a wooden spoon until it is the proper consistency.

Layer and frost the cake. Drizzle with swirls of caramel.

Everyone at work thoroughly enjoyed this cake. I immediately had requests for the recipe. Here is the greatest part of it all...Jess and I work as RNs at the local hospital. Security made an overhead announcement for a red alert aka fire drill/alarm... Jess put it best when she said "protect the cake". Guess it must have been good. :)

Bake on!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Happy 30th Birthday Brian

This cake was made for my friend Katie's fiance, Brian. Brian turned 30 this year so he needed a cool cake. My first instinct was to make him a round cake with the Wild logo on it- Minnesota's professional hockey team. Katie had arranged a surprise party for Brian. Let me start over, the party itself wasn't a surprise, but taking a limo to the Wild game with 11 of his closest friends instead of having a party at their home was. After a long debate, I decided that I didn't want to risk him putting 2 and 2 together and figure out that we were going to the Wild game. So, my next thought was to make him a Coors Light cake as this is his beer of choice and he loves his beer. I was fully dedicated to making him this cake until the night before I was going to start baking, when I decided that it was too big of a project to tackle without Jess here to help. So, my husband and I came up with a third option, a duck hunting cake. Duck hunting is one of Brian's favorite things to do. Perfect! I had an idea. Now to execute. Katie and Brian told me that they had recently had a red velvet cake with white chocolate filling and cream cheese frosting. So, this was my mission. I turned to Yes, Divas Can Cook for a recipe for a red velvet cake. I will admit that it took me all of my 28 years before I tasted red velvet cake. I know. I know. You can gasp here. What makes it challenging then is to know whether you have a good recipe on your hands. I made this recipe into cupcakes and had Jess taste test them for me prior to making this cake. She said that they were moist but that it didn't seem as chocolaty has her Mom's recipe. So, I took this recipe and added one more tablespoon of cocoa powder. It turned out beautifully though the extra tablespoon of cocoa did dull the bright red color a bit.

2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp white distilled vinegar
2 tsp vanilla
2-3oz red food coloring
1/2 cup prepared hot plain coffee

1. In a large bowl mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cocoa powder. Whisk until combined. Set aside.

2. In a separate large bowl, mix the sugar and oil together.

3. Add in eggs, buttermilk, vanilla and red food coloring. Stir until combined.

4. Next add coffee and vinegar. Stir until combined.
5. Pour the flour mixture into the sugar mixture a little at a time, beating until well combined.

6. Pour the batter into two greased and floured 9-inch round cake pans. Bake 30-40 minutes at 325 degrees or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

7. Allow the cakes to cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes. Then remove them from the pan and allow them to finish cooling on a wire rack.

I should let you know that I did end up using 3oz of red food coloring. I'm sorry to say that I don't have a picture of the inside of the cake. While it wasn't bright, bright red, it ended up having a solid red color. I was pleased. Now to tackle the filling.

I have never used white chocolate as a filling so I again had to search for a recipe. I ended up finding this recipe for white chocolate frosting. This filling/frosting had such a good rich vanilla chocolaty flavor. It tasted sooooo good. Somewhere along the way, my execution failed however. I'm convinced that the error occurred when the eggs were beating. I'm not sure if a bit of yolk was mixed or what the deal was, but those babies would not whip up. I should have stopped right then and there. I know better than that. For some insane reason I went ahead with the recipe and then ended up with a runny filling. I will likely try to one again, making sure that the egg whites are fluffy before I continue. :)

1 cup sweetened condensed milk
8 Tbsp unsalted butter
8oz white chocolate chips
3 large egg yolks
1 cup confectioners sugar

Hahaha. Okay well at least I can laugh about it now. I was supposed to use egg yolks NOT the whites. Oooops. No wonder it didn't work.

Continuing on...

To make the frosting, heat the sweetened condensed milk, butter and chocolate chips in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate chips melt. Remove from heat and let cool.

In a mixing bowl, beat together the egg yolks and confectioners' sugar with an electric mixer until fluffy.

Add the chocolate mixture and mix until thick.

I spread this between the two 9X13 sheets of red velvet. Then I covered the whole cake with cream cheese frosting. Yum. There were some hiccups along the way, but all in all I think my first red velvet cake turn out pretty well.

Now for the fondant...
So, this the part where my husband became quite involved and boy was I thankful. Not only did he make 2-3 runs to the local grocery store when I ran out of ingredients during the project (do to the frosting failure) but he took the time to create the silhouette scene with me. Him and Brian often go duck hunting together, along with our dog, Jack. This scene perfectly depicts that. Justin was so proud. Together we looked up ducking hunting decals online. He helped me (more like insisted that I) place the ducks in the right position for landing which is when a hunter would shoot at them as shown in the scene. Likely the average person wouldn't have notice this and maybe not even a hunter, but it was so cute seeing him get all involved in one of my projects. So we printed out a bunch of decal images. Justin cut them all out for me and then we taped them together to create the scene. Not to shabby, huh? I laid the paper cut-out on my fondant and went about the tedious task of cut out the silhouette. It all turned out perfectly except my paper stuck a bit to the fondant in a few spots and pulled a bit up when I removed it. It upset a perfectionist like me, but I took a few deep breaths and moved on. For the background, I had covered the cake in white fondant. Then I took a bottle of orange and yellow Wilton Color Mist and created the sunrise scene. I dipped my fingers into a few drips of red food coloring to add a few touches of a deeper color here and there. The few ducks up the top right corner of the cake were drawn by yours truly using a black edible marker.

Brian was utterly surprised when I showed him the cake. Everyone at the party was amazed. I think some even Twittered about it. Ahhh, feels so good. Another sweet success.

Bake on!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Pacifier Cupcakes

A very good friend of mine asked me to make some baby themed cupcakes for her! She is announcing her pregnancy to her co-workers on Monday and wanted a fun way to share the news! And what better way than with a cupcake!

Vanilla cupcakes with a cream cheese frosting! The pacifiers are made out of marshmallow fondant. And these could quit possibly be the easiest fondant decorations I have made! Love when I actually have a cookie cutter in the shape and size that I need! Makes the process so much easier!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie

Since starting our obsessive baking shinanigans Michele and I have brought so so many treats into work. Lord knows I have very, very poor self-control and would eat all of them if they stayed in my house. So rather we share them with our co-workers. And many times these sweets are what get all of us through the chaotic days at the hospital. A little sugar does wonders!

Two of our co-workers have deemed themselves as our "official taste testers." We have hired them on under one circumstance, they don't expect to be added onto the payroll. Rather, the sweets are their form of payment! Its a win-win situation! We get some much needed feedback on our recipes and they get some yummy sweets!

Well yesterday was one our taste testers birthday. Sounds like a requirement for a little baking. It needed to be something fairly easy being that I would be making it the morning after working a full weekend of night shifts. And the chocolate chip cookie pie recipe fit just that criteria. And man was it good! Our official taste testers voted for this one to be a keeper!

Pretty sure I would be totally fine eating it in this form. Baking really isn't necessary is it?

Nice and golden brown! Don't let the crunchy outer shell fool you with what is inside...

Ooey gooey chocolate chip goodness! When I brought it into work it had only been cooling for a little over an hour, meaning it was still warm and super ooey-gooey! Almost looked as though I had undercooked it. It was definitely good this way, but I would recommend refrigerating it for a couple of hours before serving. This way it won't come out of the pie pan and land on the plate in a clump. Presentation does matter.

Source: Our Best Bites

This recipe has been linked to:

Sweet Tooth Fridays

I'm Lovin' It

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Chocolate Pound Cake

Kind of hard to blog about a cake or recipe when I didn't have the chance to actually taste it. I made this cake for my mom's birthday, but wasn't able to celebrate with her due to working the weekend. Darn work gets in the way of everything fun.

I can however tell you that our house smelled absolutely amazing after baking this cake. Zach said he could smell the chocolate immediately after getting out of his truck.

I told my mom she had to give me a full report of the cake. And these are the phrases she used to describe it: light and fluffy, moist, decadent, and overall just delicious. Love my mom's report, but you know how it is, moms never have a bad thing to say about something their child makes. But she tells me that I have piece waiting for me in the freezer so I can try it this weekend. I will give you the full scoop afterwards!

Chocolate Pound Cake

3 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup shortening
1 1/4 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
5 large eggs

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line the bottom of your pan with parchment paper and spray the sides and bottom with baking spray--I had a decorative bundt pan so I used the Pam Baking spray and skipped the parchment paper.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, dry whisk the flour, sugar, and cocoa.

3. Gradually add the butter, shortening, and m ilk. Beat on medium speed until smooth.

4. Add the baking powder and beat until incorporated.

5. Still on medium speed, add the vanilla extract and then add the eggs, one at a time. Beating well after each addition.

6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 1 1/2 hours or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

7. Cool the cake in the pan for 10 minutes. Level off the top of the cake using a bread knife before flipping the cake out of the pan.

8. After the cake has completely cooled, you can dust with powdered sugar. I chose to drizzle a little ganache over the top. Caramel would be a delicious option as well. Really, the options are endless.

Source: All Cakes Considered by Melissa Gray

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Hostess Cupcakes

Well, well, well, another chocolate cupcake recipe that disappoints. Through out all of our chocolate cupcake troubles, Michele and I have come up with three criteria that would lead us to the perfect chocolate cupcake. We named it the trifecta to perfecta-- moisture, structure, and chocolaty goodness! Usually a recipe meets one or two of the standards, but lacks in the third area. As was the case here. This recipe was outstanding as far as chocolate flavor and structure, but was very dry. The weird thing is that when Zach and I taste tested them the night they were baked they were perfect, but the following day they were dry as could be.

I am just baffled by how chocolaty these cupcakes tasted with such a small amount of cocoa. We have made previous recipes with three times as much cocoa and they all ended up lacking the chocolaty-ness factor.

Well it is a good thing these cupcakes look so darn good on the outside. Being that the cupcake isn't anything grand and they don't have the typical cream filling like the original hostess cupcakes. When I tried to inject the cream filling into the cupcakes using a pastry bag I met complete resistance- even causing a few of them to crack down the middle. I probably should have just cut a hole out of the tops and squirted in the cream filling, but for some reason that night I didn't feel like going through the bother. Maybe next time...

And this is the one I made especially for Zach. I know, pretty cheesy, huh?

Source: Annie's Eats

Monday, February 7, 2011

Gooey Good Bars

What's in a name? You would think with the word "gooey" in the title that this would be an instant hit. While it was well received by the audience, I was disappointed. I am my own worst critic. It definitely did not live up its title. I was expecting peanut buttery ooey gooey goodness but that is not what I got. I'm sure at this point you aren't interested in the recipe, but here it is. Like I said, everyone else loved them (and my adaptations-keep reading)

1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 peanut butter
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup oatmeal

1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp peanut butter
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 tbsp milk

Cream together first five ingredients. Stir together flour, soda, and 1/4 tsp salt. Add to creamed mixture, mixing well. Stir in oatmeal. Pat firmly into a greased 15x10x1 inch baking pan. Bake at 375 degree for 12-15 minutes. Cool and frost with a mixture of the remaining ingredients.

Clearly, from the picture you can tell that I didn't follow this recipe exactly. I made these bars in a 9x13 inch pan and they were a little past done at 12 minutes. I can't imagine what they would have been like had the dough been spread even thinner in a 15x10 inch pan. I didn't have any powdered sugar in the house to make the frosting so I improvised. After I took the pan out of the oven. I threw most of a bag of dark chocolate chips over the bars. I let it sit for a couple minutes to melt. In the meantime I took about 1/2 cup of peanut butter and melted it for about 20-30 seconds in the microwave. I drizzled this over the chocolate chips. By now the chips had melted so I spread the PB/chocolate mixture over the bars. I'm convinced that this frosting saved the recipe. Had the bars been baked a few minutes less this recipe could have been a winner. For now, I'm sure I will move on. There are plenty more PB/choc recipes out there to tackle.
Until then,

Bake on!


Striped Delight

You know how you go on vacation and the pictures just never seem to do the destination justice. Well same goes for this photo. This picture just doesn't do it justice. This dessert is so delightful I could quite possibly, during a weak moment, consume this whole 9x13. Yum. I have some leftover in my fridge and it is taking every fiber of my body not to take a spoon and dig in. Darn diet. Tomorrow, it is on a one way trip to my work and into the bellies of my coworkers. I doubt there will be any complaints. Between Jess and I we keep the staff well fed. Okay, since you are all dying to make this for your next get together here goes:

35 Oreos, finely crushed
6 Tbsp butter or margarine, melted
1 8oz pkg cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
12oz Cool Whip topping, thawed
31/4 cup + 2 Tbsp cold milk
2 pkg -4oz size Jell-O chocolate flavor instant pudding

1. Mix crushed cookies and butter in medium bowl. Press firmly onto bottom of 9x13 inch baking dish. Refrigerate 10 minutes.
2. Beat cream cheese, sugar, and 2 Tbsp milk with wire whisk until well blended. Gently stir in 1 1/4 cups of the whipped topping. Spread over crust.
3. Pour 3 1/4 cups milk into a large bowl. Add dry pudding mixes. Beat with wire whisk 2 minutes or until well blended. Pour over cream cheese layer.
4. Let stand 5 minutes or until thickened. Drop remaining whipped topping by spoonfuls over pudding layer. Spread evenly to cover the pudding.
5. Refrigerate at least 4 hours.
Get your spoon ready, people!!
Bake on!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Red Velvet Cake

This cake has "home" written all over it! Love. Love. Love it.

Figured the super bowl was the perfect excuse to bake up a cake. These days I look for any little opportunity to do a little baking. And a red velvet cake it was! Being this will probably be my only chance to bake anything red velvet before Valentine's Day.

The recipe is the same one that I used in the Red Velvet Cupcakes. This time I only had about an ounce and a half of red food coloring and it was still vibrant. I think using one ounce would probably still be efficient. I baked the cake in two eight inch cake pans for about 25 minutes. And used our classic cream cheese recipe to fill and frost the cake.

Peanut Butter Butterscotch Cookies

Peanut Butter. Yum. Butterscotch. Yum. Peanut Butter + Butterscotch. Double Yum.

These cookies are mighty tasty! Crunchy around the outside, but soft and gooey on the inside! My only disappointment was that they came out of the oven as little fluff balls and within minutes of cooling the flattened into mini pancakes. Dang. They looked so much more appealing when they were round and plump looking. The looks may have disappointed, but the taste did not!

I think the next time I make these I am going to try adding butterscotch pudding mix instead of melting butterscotch chips. My mom has a chocolate chip cookie recipe that uses vanilla pudding and those are the softest cookies ever. Maybe butterscotch pudding would do the trick for these cookies as well! Worth a shot.

Peanut Butter Butterscotch Cookies

1 stick butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups smooth peanut butter
1 cup melted butter scotch chips
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup butter scotch chips (next time I plan to add a little extra)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt butterscotch chips. Stir every thirty seconds until smooth. Add melted butterscotch chips and peanut butter to creamed mixture. Beat in egg and vanilla. Sift together flour and baking soda. Add dry ingredients to mixture. Pour in butterscotch chips and mix until evenly distributed.

Roll into one inch balls. Roll in sugar. If desired, press top of cookies with tines of fork. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes before placing on cooling racks.

Makes approximately four dozen cookies.

Source: Picky Palate

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Penguin Cake

Boy was I fooled! I thought this cake was going to be easy peasy. Turns out it was probably one of our most frustrating cakes to date. I saw this super-duper cute penguin cake last Friday when I was browsing through the links on I'm Loving it Fridays. And instantly I wanted to make it. Immediately bookmarked the link on my computer and started racking my brain to try and think of any upcoming events that we could make it for.

Even though penguins have absolutely nothing to do with my grandma, we decided to make this cake for her birthday! Zach and I were heading over to her house on Sunday to celebrate her birthday and I had already planned on making her a birthday cake. But it was just going to be a boring throw-it-in-a-9x13-pan type of cake. I know, pretty lame huh? That's why we figured we might as well take it up a notch and add some fondanty goodness to make it all cute and stuff!

Started with just three layers of eight inch banana cake, but soon realized that it was going turn into one short and fat penguin. Ended up making another batch of cake and adding a fourth layer to the top! This was one tall cake! Filled and frosted the cake with cream cheese frosting. Holy yum!

Now for the fun part, or in our case not so fun part, covering the cake with fondant. I think we have covered about four or five round cakes with fondant now and every single time we end up with a nice smooth top but a skirting effect around the bottom. As we smooth our way down the cake we reach a point where the extra fondant starts bunching up and creates a ruffled look. This time we were able to cover up part of our imperfections by adding a little coconut around the bottom of the cake to look like snow. But we seriously need to figure this out. There has got to be some kind of trick that we are missing out on....

Anyways, here is our little guy. Ruffled look and all.

The eyes, nose, tummy, and feet are all made out of fondant as well. Cutting this stuff out was the easy part!

My grandma loved him! And that is all that matters! Don't ya love how grandparents look past the imperfections! I was telling her about our fondant difficulties and her response was "I would have never even noticed!"

Yum, yum, yum! Everyone said it tasted like frosted banana bread! But the cake was definitely more moist that the typical banana bread.

Banana Cake
adapted from recipezaar

1 1/2 cups bananas, mashed, ripe
2 teaspoons lemon juice
3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter, softened
2 1/8 cups sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups buttermilk

1. Preheat oven to 300°. Grease and flour three round eight inch cake pans. I also cut out a piece of parchment paper to place in the bottom of the pan.
2. In a small bowl, mix mashed banana with the lemon juice; set aside.
3. In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.
4. In a large bowl, cream 3/4 cup butter and 2 1/8 cups sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then stir in 2 tsp vanilla.
5.Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk. Stir in banana mixture. I also added in a sprinkle of cinnamon.
6. Divide batter among prepared pans (about 2 1/2 cups per pan) and bake in preheated oven for about fourty-five to fifty minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

7. Let cake cool for about ten minutes and then remove from pan and immediately wrap in saran wrap. This will help keep the cake moist.