Cake Pops!

I was originally skeptical of this new dessert fad: cake pops.  Who wants a ball of dried cake dipped in chocolate?  When a friend sent me some for my birthday, I was forced to try them.  As I bit in, I realized it was not at all what I expected.  Instead of finding dry cake inside, I discovered the exact opposite.  The cake was actually mixed with icing!

After having my first cake pop, I knew I wanted to make them.  First step: get all of the supplies.  This is the part that took awhile.  I found the chocolate shell that you dip the cake into, but I kept forgetting (and when I didn’t forget, couldn’t find) the Popsicle sticks and Styrofoam.  Last week, I finally went to Michaels and got the sticks and foam.  I was ready to go.

I split the process up into multiple days.  The first day I made the cake.  I just used a box of butter recipe golden cake mix because I had it on hand.  After the cake had cooled, I put it in the fridge.  The next night, I mixed the cake up with a few spoons of cream cheese icing from a container.  I scooped the cake into balls with a mini-ice cream scoop and put them on a plate in the refrigerator.  (I’m sure all of my culinary friends are turning their noses up at me for using a cake mix and pre-made icing, but I’m ok with that).  The third night, I first dipped the sticks into the chocolate and then into the cake pops (apparently it helps keep the sticks on).  After leaving them in the fridge for an hour, I dipped the whole thing in chocolate and then poured on some sprinkles.

I have to say, they turned out pretty good.  They weren’t as perfect looking as the cake pops you see in Starbucks, but they have a little more character.  🙂

Steps:

1. Make cake and cool.  Store in fridge.

2. Mix cake with a few spoonfuls of cream cheese icing.

3. Spoon cake into small balls and put into the fridge.

4. Melt some of the chocolate in microwave and dip the popsicle sticks into the chocolate and then into the cake pops.  Put in the fridge for 1 hour.

5. Melt the rest of the chocolate.  Dip the cake pops into the chocolate and add sprinkles.

6.  Chill in fridge until ready to serve.

Mocha Cookies

Originally Posted April 11,2012

These are magic cookies.  Maybe not as cool as the way sugar turns to liquid when you heat it up, but still pretty cool.  This is actually the second time I’ve attempted to make them.  The first time I messed up, or so I thought.  Turns out, I just didn’t believe the final step, the magic step.

What is so cool, you ask?  Well, once the batter is made it is really liquidy.  If you scooped it onto a cookie sheet it would just expand and spread out over your whole sheet.  This is what I noticed the first time I made them, so I just turned them into brownies (which were quite delicious).  There is, however, a crucial step in the process that I had skipped.  After the batter is made, you let it sit for 15 MINUTES.  The batter goes from a liquid to a solid (well not solid solid, but cookie dough solid).  I don’t know the chemistry behind it… maybe one of my science friends or a friend who has gone to culinary school might know, but for now, I’ll just call it magic.

My friend Erin’s mom sent me this recipe and said it was THE CHOCOLATE COOKIE.  Just awesome.  Well, I completely agree that it is an awesome cookie, and everyone at lunch concurred.  I am, however, still partial to the dark chocolate cookies with little salt on top (given to me by Erin – no wonder I like their family), but these are definitely pretty high up on the list of chocolate cookies, and they are nice with the hint of expresso in them.

Because these are a little more involved than your typical cookie, I am going to walk you through the steps of making them.

1st: Set your eggs out an hour or so before you want to begin baking so that they will reach room temperature.

When you are ready to start…
Melt unsweetened chocolate, 1/2 of the chocolate chips, and the butter by putting them in a microwave safe bowl and heating them in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time.  Stir after each 30 seconds until the chocolate is smooth.  Should take about 1 1/2 minutes.  Set the bowl aside.


Then mix flour, salt, and baking powder in a small bowl and set it aside as well (I put mine next to each other).

In a mixing bowl, beat (at a high, high speed) your eggs and sugar.  Beat and beat for about 10 minutes until it is a light color and much thicker than when you started.
Then add the expresso powder and vanilla and beat it all up again.  Put it next to your other bowls.

Next FOLD in the chocolate to the egg mixture.  Folding means you use a spatula and gently stir it in.  After you fold in the chocolate, fold in the flour and finally the second half of the chocolate chips.  It will then look something like this (resembles brownie batter).

Then, the magic happens.  Let is sit for 15 minutes.  Now is a good time to preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

After 30 minutes, it looks like this (much more cookie dough like):

Scoop onto the cookie sheet and bake for 8 minutes.  Let rest on cookie sheet a couple minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack.  Enjoy warm or the next day.  Both are great, but you don’t really enjoy the expresso flavor until the next day.

    

Source (and recipe):  From the Gourmet Cookbook and posted here: http://live.gourmet.com/2010/12/the-gourmet-cookie-book-mocha-cookies/

Strawberry Pie

Originally Posted April 8, 2012

Strawberry pie became an Easter tradition a few years ago with my brother and sister-in-law.  I had been searching for a strawberry pie recipe – not a chilled strawberry pie, but a hot strawberry pie.  I looked high and low, but no one seemed to make them (I’m sure there are recipes out there, so don’t be offended if you have one and I did not find/use it!).

After my failed search, I decided to just use a blueberry pie recipe and substitute strawberries!  I use about 1/2 of the sugar that the blueberry pie calls for because strawberries are already so sweet.

I’m not sure why strawberries are left out of the normal pie selection, but I suggest you make one today!

Strawberry pie (adapted from the blueberry pie)

Crust:
1 cup shortening ( ½ butter, ½ Crisco)
3 cups flour
3 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
½ cup cool water

Make and roll out top and bottom crusts in usual manner.  Chill if making on a hot day and butter starts melting.

Filling:
6 cups strawberries
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
Grating of the peel of one lemon
1 tsp. cinnamon

2 tablespoons butter.

Mix the filling ingredients together and place in unbaked pie shell.  Dot the butter in small pieces on the filling.  Cover with pie shell cover, sprinkle with sugar and bake for 1 hour or until the crust is brown and you can see the butter bubbling out of the holes.
Start the oven at 420 and then reduce to 350 after 10 min.
Let pie cool before serving.

    

     

 

Floy Curl’s Chocolate Pie

Originally posted August 31, 2011

“Floy Curl’s Chocolate Pie.”  I’ve had this recipe in my recipe binder as long as I can remember.  I had never made the pie, and I always wondered whom Floy Curl was.  Well, now both issues have been solved!  The pie is delicious and Floy Curl is our family friends’ grandmother and great-grandmother!

I was home with my sister a few weeks ago, so of course we had to bake something!  I’m not sure how we settled on chocolate pie, but it was an excellent choice.  We swapped the meringue topping with whipped cream and grated some chocolate over the top to make it look pretty (for the blog, my family doesn’t really care what desserts look like. We are more concerned with the taste).  Houston was so hot (it is August) that the butter started to melt in the pie crust, so I had to pop it in the fridge for awhile.

My nephew Reid was an integral part of making the pie.  He supervised while drinking some tea (you think I’m joking, but I’m not, check out the pictures below).

Alternative Butterscotch Pie (I hope to try this soon): Substitute dark brown sugar for cocoa and add an additional tablespoon of flour.

Floy Curl’s Chocolate Pie

Prepare a crust (I used the one from the blueberry pie)
Bake until golden.
 

         

 

Warm the following over low heat for a minute or so, stirring constantly:
1 cup sugar
4 T. flour
6 T. cocoa
Make a well and add 3 egg yolks.

   

Slowly add and stir in:
1 ¾ cup milk (preferably warm)
3 T. butter
pinch of salt

 

Remove from “fire” (that’s what the recipe says) when thick and bubbly.

Add:
½ tsp. vanilla

Pour into baked crust.
Add whipped cream on top  (the key to making whipped cream is to have all utensils (bowl and beater) cold before whipping up the cream, adding sugar (1/4 cup), and a little vanilla (1/2 to 1 tsp.).

Rainbow Cake

Originally posted May 9, 2011 (My first blog post!)

This first blog post is a lesson in patience.  This is the third time I’ve gone through all of the steps… the others were miraculously deleted.

Here we go… again!  Rainbow cake!  I made this cake for this first time as a practice run for my nephew’s 1st birthday.  Trust me, nothing says “Happy Birthday!” like a rainbow cake!  The best way to serve the cake is as a surprise.  Cover the entire cake in icing, and then wait for the squeals when you make your first slice and reveal the rainbow of colors.

Citation: I followed the steps (which you may prefer) on this blog: http://www.hostessblog.com/2009/02/fabulous-rainbow-cake-tutorial/

Have fun with it!  You really can’t go wrong!

Step 1:  Make a light colored cake (chocolate will not work).  I recommend Betty Crocker’s Butter Recipe Golden.  I’ve been making it since high school, and people always ask me for the recipe!  Cover it with cream cheese icing, and you’ll be in love.

Step 2:  Separate the batter into individual bowls.  Add food coloring to each.  Stir.

Step 3: Add about ½ of the red batter into the first prepared cake pan.  Let settle.  Then add orange… let settle.  Follow by yellow… settle.
In the other pan, do the same thing with purple, blue, and green.
After the pans have settled, add the rest of the batter in the opposite order (yellow, orange, red & green, blue, purple) to each pan.  Check out pics below.

                   

Step 4: Lick the bowls.  Yes, the batter is in weird colors, but it tastes just as good as prior to the food coloring.

Step 5:  Bake the cake, let cool, ice.

Step 6: Cut into the cake and enjoy!!

Peanut Butter Brownie

Originally posted January 21, 2011

Peanut butter and chocolate are awesome together.  Think reese’s peanut butter cups.

I’m visiting my brother and sister-in-law, so in addition to making a full dinner (fried chicken, green beans, mashed potatoes, gravy, biscuits…) we needed something delicious for dessert.  We searched around for some peanut butter and chocolate desserts and almost settled on a couple.  Before making our final choice, I thought I would check smittenkitchen.  That’s where we found this recipe for peanut butter brownies (http://smittenkitchen.com/2007/10/peanut-butter-brownies/).

They are … awesome (am I repeating myself?).  Gooey like a brownie with the delicious peanut butter / chocolate combination.  I’ll show you the steps I took to make the brownies, but here is the recipe.  We used chunky peanut butter rather than smooth, and I liked the extra crunch.

  

   

             

Strawberry Muffins

Originally posted May 22, 2011

I’m obsessed with this one recipe for blueberry muffins.  I make them once a year when blueberries come out in full
swing.  Unfortunately (or actually fortunately!), it is strawberry season right now, so strawberries are super
cheap at the store.  I wanted to make SOMETHING with strawberries, so why not make the blueberry muffins into
strawberry!  If you are looking for something to do with strawberries, I recommend these.  Or, if you buy some
blueberries, try them out too!  You could even try a blueberry, strawberry combo muffin.  I can’t decide if that
would be tasty or not…

Photos: The cicadas are out like crazy right now!  For those that don’t live in Nashville, apparently this type of cicada
invades the city every 13 years.  They attach to anything they can – especially the house or the trees.  I’ve only had one try and get on me, and I was able to quickly swat it away, but the noise they make is deafening.  However, I have been reading that the best way to photograph food is in the natural sunlight.  While I usually bake a night, this morning was an exception when I was testing out the strawberry muffins.  I risked a cicada attack of my strawberries to run outside and take a few shots, and the pictures came out so much better this time!   Plus, I’m happy to report that the strawberry muffins turned out cicada free!

Citation: Adapted from Joanne Fluke’s “Blueberry Muffin Mystery” recipe for blueberry muffins.  I substituted blueberries for strawberries, and because they didn’t have any strawberry pie filling at the Trader Joe’s, I used strawberry jam.  In the future, I might add a little more baking powder to get them to rise up a bit more.

Blueberry Strawberry Muffins

¾ cup melted butter
1 cup sugar
2 beaten eggs
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries strawberries (if frozen, do not need to thaw)
½ cup pie filling (or substitute with strawberry jam, if that’s what you can find!)
2 cups plus 1 Tbsp. flour
½ cup milk
Topping:
½ cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
¼ cup softened butter
1.    Put 1 Tb. Of flour in a bag with the berries and gently shake up.  Set aside
2. Melt the butter and mix in sugar
3. Add the eggs, baking powder, and salt
4.    Add ½ of flour and 1/2 of milk to batter, and mix in.  Repeat with the rest of the flour and milk.
5.    Add ½ cup of berry pie filling (or jam) and mix in.
6.    Carefully stir in the berries.
7.    Add to muffin tins.  If more batter remains, fill a loaf pan with the batter.
8.   Crumb Topping: Mix the sugar and flour in a small bowl.  Cut in butter.
10. Sprinkle topping on muffins.
11. Bake at 375 for 25 to 30 minutes.  (15 minutes if making mini muffins)

Blueberry Pie

Originally Posted July 4, 2011

Happy 4th of July!!

I started off my 4th with a little 5K run, think I might go for a bike ride in a bit, and then hoping to finish it off with some fireworks!  Oh – and there will be some food involved in my day.  Specifically, blueberry pie.  I mean what says Happy 4th of July better than blueberry pie?  Serve it in a red pie dish, and you instantly have a patriotic dessert!

My family traveled to Maine a few years ago (well, it was before I left for college, so I guess it was more than a few), and we visited a friend of my dad’s for dinner.  They served us a pie after dinner, and wow.  It was the best blueberry pie I had ever had.  I, of course, had to get the recipe, and I’ve been making it every since.

I said in my “about me” section that my desserts are not works of art.   Well, this one definitely shows it.

I’ll walk you through the steps of how to make this pie, so you can see just how easy it is to get an ugly but delicious pie.

Crust
1.    Put all of the dry ingredients for your pie crust in a bowl.
2.    Cut in your butter and Crisco (both of these need to be cold)
3.    Get a bowl of ice cold water and pour the water into the middle of the flour / butter mixture.
4.    Using a fork, mix together your pie dough until it all comes together.
5.    Roll out the dough and put into your pie pan.

Filling
1.    Rinse off your blueberries.
2.    Add sugar & corn starch (or tapioca pudding)
3.    Grate in some lemon peel
4.    Add the cinnamon
Taste it.

Pour the blueberry filling into the crust.  Cut up 2 Tbsp. butter over filling.  Then place the top crust over the filling.  Sprinkle sugar over the top of the crust.
Put into the oven at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes, turn down the oven and bake for 40 to 50 more minutes.  Tip:  Put a cookie sheet underneath your pie in case some of the filling spills out.

Citation: Peter Murray (my dad’s friend)

Crust:
1 cup shortening ( ½ butter, ½ Crisco)
3 cups flour
3 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
½ cup cool water

Make and roll out top and bottom crusts in usual manner.

Filling:
6 cups blueberries
1 ¼ cup sugar
4 Tbsp. “minute” tapioca (I used 2 Tbsp. cornstarch)
Grating of the peel of one lemon
1 tsp. cinnamon

2 tablespoons butter

 

 

Yellow Cake with Chocolate Icing

Originally posted November 6, 2011

I used a disgusting amount of butter this weekend.  Between a birthday cake for my mom, cherry squares for my dad, another birthday cake for some friends’ party, and biscuits this morning, I literally have none left in my refrigerator.  All of the items turned out pretty well though!

For now, I’ll start with my mom’s birthday cake.  We all have our favorite desserts on our birthday.  Mine is Betty Crocker Butter Recipe Golden (not yellow) cake from a box with canned cream cheese icing.  You can make me a real cake, but nothing will ever compare to what comes out of the box, and since it is my birthday, that’s what I choose.

My mom’s favorite is yellow cake with chocolate icing.  Since she was coming in town for her birthday (and for the opening of the Container Store and to go shopping in our new Nordstroms), I figured I should find the best yellow cake with chocolate fudge icing I could.

I turned to smitten kitchen, and she didn’t let me down.  To be honest, I didn’t even really taste the cake, it just acts as a medium for eating the chocolate icing.  For any of your friends who want yellow cake with chocolate icing on their birthday, I recommend trying this out.  The chocolate icing is extremely easy as long as you have a food processor.  If you are in a bind, you can use the Betty Crocker yellow cake box mix and then making this icing.

Now, I better go help out my mom since she has already re-organized my whole closet and cleaned all my clothes — on HER birthday weekend!

I used the recipes exactly, so I won’t re-print, rather just refer you to the links:
yellow cake (http://smittenkitchen.com/2009/07/best-birthday-cake/)
chocolate fudge icing (scroll down to the last recipe, it is the Instant Fudge Frosting, not the recipes with the expresso): http://smittenkitchen.com/2009/08/espresso-chiffon-cake-with-fudge-frosting/
Tips:
I used cake flour for the first time.  It took me forever to find because they don’t have it with the other flours.  Instead, it is in the section with the cake mixes.

Make sure you put a cookie sheet underneath the cake pans when baking, mine majorly overflowed

For your leftover buttermilk you can make my cinnamon biscuits!

Cinnamon Biscuit

Originally Posted October 4, 2011

I still remember my first cinnamon biscuit.  It was from Bojangles in Winston-Salem, NC.  Amazing.  A year later, I introduced them to my dad.  He mistakenly didn’t believe that just one would be enough and ate two.  He regretted it.  Their cinnamon biscuits are so buttery and sugary that you pretty much don’t want to eat a dessert for a week.  Completely worth it, though.

I had a bunch of buttermilk left over from the banana chocolate marble cake, so my friend Courtney referred me to a new biscuit recipe.  These biscuits are delicious!  And, super easy!  Seriously.  Next time I want just some basic biscuits, I’ll make these.

I followed the recipe from the blog.  I rolled out the dough.  Added a little butter and cinnamon sugar mixture.  Baked them.  Then added a cinnamon sugar glaze.

I can assure you that these biscuits are in no way as greasy and buttery as those from Bojangles, and you will be able to eat dessert within the next day.  They certainly are not as good though.  You win some and you lose some.

Recipe:
Follow instructions for biscuits here. (I used buttermilk instead of almond milk with vinegar):

http://everybodylikessandwiches.com/2011/02/the-flakiest-biscuit-biscuits-supreme/

Roll out the dough into a rectangle.
Melt 1 Tbsp. of butter and pour over dough
Sprinkle a layer of cinnamon sugar on top (as much as you want)

Bake in 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes.

Pour icing on top.

Icing:
1 cup confectioner sugar
1 Tbs. milk
1/4 tsp. vanilla
Pinch of salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon