Chocolate Chip Spice Cake

I made a wedding cake!! Again!

My first cake was a couple of years ago right before I moved to New York. I had already moved out of my house in Nashville, so I baked the cakes at my friend Lauren’s apartment. I made three cakes: a chocolate cake with raspberry filing; a lemon infused white cake with strawberries, a white chocolate filing, and a cream cheese icing; and a chocolate chip spice cake with cream cheese icing, recipe courtesy of my friend Erin’s mom. The chocolate cake was pretty good but a lot of work, the white cake was delicious, and the spice cake was amazing.

When my grad school adviser and friend, Paige, asked me if I wanted to make her cakes, I knew immediately that I did. Once I figured out the logistics of making cakes for a wedding in Nashville when I live in NYC, I said yes! This time, I was a little bit smarter about things. One of the cakes I had made for the previous wedding was tiered. That was out. It was stressful and, to be honest, I still have nightmares about how it was slightly leaning. Second of all, I knew I needed to find a new chocolate cake. The previous one required a raspberry and chocolate ganache filling as well as a white icing. I turned to smitten kitchen for that (chocolate cake and swiss buttercream icing)

I knew that the sustains were the white cake with strawberries (which I previously blogged about here) and the spice cake. This cake is easy, relatively healthy (applesauce!), and awesome. I don’t know how I had not blogged about it before, but here it is! Enjoy!

Next time I make a wedding cake, maybe it will actually be in my own kitchen! Many thanks to Alison for letting me use her kitchen and putting up with me as I literally walked into her house after not seeing her for months and started baking immediately.

All credit for how beautiful the cakes look go to Paige for picking out awesome cake stands and for her friend Rebecca for doing the flowers. I just delivered white cakes.

Chocolate Chip Spice Cake
Courtesy of Laura Frankrone

2 1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 tsps. baking soda
2 tsps. cinnamon
1 tsp. cardamom (optional, I skipped)
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cloves (optional, I skipped)
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2 cups applesauce
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup oil
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 bag, semi-sweet chocolate chips (I use the mini-morsels)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Butter and flour a bundt pan or 2 9-inch pans.
3. Whisk the flour with the sugar, soda, cinnamon, cardamom, salt, cloves, and pepper. Stir in the applesauce, eggs, oil and butter. Fold in the chocolate chips.
4. Put batter in the pan. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean for the bundt cake or 30-40 minutes if you use 9-inch cakes.
5. Transfer pan to cooling rack for 10 minutes; remove cake. (sometimes it takes a little long than 10 minutes but I start trying to get it out after 10 to prevent the cake from drying out.)
6. Cool cake completely and dust with confectioners sugar.

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Carrot Muffins with a Cream Cheese Surprise

A year and a half ago, my dear friend Alison gave me the most beautiful cookbook for my birthday. The Thomas Keller Bouchon Bakery. It has been my coffee table book every since. While I have dreams of making every recipe in the book, so far I am stuck on the carrot muffins, blueberry muffins, and lemon poppy seed muffins. They are both so delicious that I don’t have any reason to branch out.

Flash forward to this weekend. I had 8 oz. of cream cheese in my refrigerator that was about to expire, so I HAD to bake something with cream cheese. I’ve been on a whole wheat muffin kick recently, and King Arthur Flour had a recipe for Cream Cheese Carrot Cake Muffins. So! Then I had an idea to make the amazing Bouchon Bakery carrot muffins with a cream cheese filling while replacing some of the all purpose flour with white whole wheat flour.

These muffins require you to shred the carrots individually, but it makes them oh so delicious. The traditional recipe has an oat topping, but since I was adding the cream cheese filling, I skipped the topping.

Enjoy!

Bouchon Bakery Carrot Muffins
(ever-so slightly adapted)

1st:
Shred 1 ¾ cup carrots
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2nd:
Sift together (I don’t have a sifter, so I just stir with a fork):
90 grams whole wheat flour (5/8 cup + 1 tsp.)
90 grams all-purpose flour (5/8 cup + 1 tsp.)
¾ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt

3rd:
In a separate bowl, whip with a fork:
1 cup + 2 tsp. sugar
½ cup + 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla bean paste

Mix in:
1 egg

4th:
Gently fold the flour mixture into the liquid mixture. I did this in three parts.

5th:
Stir in the shredded carrots.

6th:
Cover and leave in the refrigerator overnight.

7th:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix 8 oz. cream cheese with 1/8 cup sugar.  Fill half of muffin cups with batter. Place a dollup of cream cheese mixture on top. Then cover with the rest of the batter.

Lower temperature to 325. Bake for 18-20 minutes

 

 

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Cupcakes in a cone: comparing methods

It’s that time of year again: time to plan Reid’s (my nephew) birthday cake! For his first birthday, we made a bear cake that was rainbow colored when you cut into it. On his second birthday, we put mini construction trucks on the cake. Given his obsession with curious George, we did a monkey for his 3rd birthday.

This year, the theme is easy: fire! because the party will be at the fire truck museum. We might do the Betty Crocker fire truck cake, but given its small size, we will need cupcakes to go along with it. The perfect excuse to make cupcakes in cones!

I have a distinct memory of a mom bringing cupcakes in cones for a classmate’s birthday in second grade. Sadly, I have no idea who the friend was, but I even remember that we ate them outside the classroom (near the flag pole lawn, for you SJSers reading this). I haven’t had them since, but I thought they would be perfect for the birthday party. We can dye the cake batter red and then use orange icing.

Next step: how to make them. After doing some research, I discovered there are two main methods. You can make cupcakes in a cupcake pan like you normally would except you invert a cone on top of the cupcake before baking them. Or, you can fill the cones with batter and bake them directly in the cone.

I obviously needed to try both methods, and that it was I am going to show you here. Ultimately, my preferred method is to make them directly in the cone. It requires some extra work, but I think worth it.

Method 1:Bake cupcakes directly in cone.

The first thing you need is a 9×13 (or larger) aluminum pan and a knife. Invert the pan onto a cookie sheet and cut holes in the pan that will fit the cones.

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This project was the most arts and crafts thing I’ve done in a long time. So trust me, if I can do it, you can too. You want to try to keep the holes far enough apart that the cupcakes won’t bake together.

Here is an image from below:

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Next:
Add the batter to the cupcakes and bake in the oven for the same time you would a cupcake:

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When they are done, remove from pan, and all you have left to do is ice them! I think they look prettier than the other ones, and as you can see, it fills up the cone more which makes them sturdier.

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Method 2: Invert cone on cupcake before baking

This method is certainly quicker (by about 10 minutes) and doesn’t require the aluminum pan, but as you can see they burned a bit because you can’t check when they are done, and they came out a little moe lopsided.

1st step:
Pour batter into a cupcake paper lined pan. Invert cone on top.

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Put into the oven and bake as directed (this part is tricky because you can’t check for doneness):

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When the time says they are done, remove and take off the paper:

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As shown below (and mentioned previously), they do not fill up the cone as much, so are not as stable.

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Either way, they look cute! I can’t want to make them like little fires for the birthday party!

Wedding cake

I made a wedding cake!! Ok… It was actually 7 months ago, but still! It was exhausting, stressful, time consuming, and so amazingly worth it.

The groom is one of my good friends from grad school and his wife is a doctor who makes her own quilts – talk about talented! Knowing the groom and his desire for perfection when it comes to food and the bride’s amazing artistic talents, I was nervous… to say the least… but incredibly flattered that they would even ask me to make the cake.

The wedding was outdoors and the bride had her hand in everything, making it a beautiful, vintage-y wedding where my cake could fit in. I told them that two levels was my max, but that I’d be willing to make multiple cakes, and they were completely flexible with me. The florist provided the flowers to decorate the cake, so all I had to do was bring three white cakes. Simple really.

I had made the main cake for a birthday party, and the bride and groom requested it specifically: a lemon infused white cake with strawberries and a white chocolate icing in between the layers. The whole cake was supposed to be covered in the white chocolate icing, but the night before when the icing wasn’t coming out like I wanted, I made a last second decision to still use the icing for the filling between the layers but made a cream cheese icing to cover the cake. Everyone loves cream cheese icing (unless you are crazy), so I knew it would work out.

The other two side cakes included a chocolate chip spice cake and a chocolate cake with a raspberry and chocolate filling. The transportation of the cakes went fairly well. I bought some boxes for each cake and planned on assembling the two layer cake when I arrived. I cringed on every bump, especially when I reached the farm and I felt like I needed a 4-wheeler just to reach the venue. Fortunately the cakes were intact and unharmed when I arrived. I went into the house to assemble the cakes and the whole wedding party was there! Talk about stressful. Everyone was going to be watching me ungracefully place one cake on top of another. Half an hour later they were together, the flower was on top, and I was done.

The cutting of the cake is always my favorite part at a wedding reception, and this one was extra special. Especially when I saw the bride whisper “this is good” after she took a bite. It wasn’t the fanciest wedding cake, or the most professionally done, but if it tasted good, at least I could sleep that night.

*i made this cake last week for a work bake-off and lost. Again. I guess it wasn’t that good….

So, after 7 long months, I’ll tell you how I made the cake.

I found this beautiful white cake on tastespotting.com.
The directions are long and the author does a great job describing what to do. At the end of making the cake, fold in lemon zest from two lemons and then bake the cake.

When the cake is done, you can store it in the freezer for a day, which makes it easier to level. When you are ready to assemble the cake, cut up 1 pint of strawberries and store in lemon juice from two lemons and 1 tsp. sugar.

Prepare the white chocolate icing, as the instructions say. It is important to just continue beating the icing until cool and fluffy. I gave up the first two times and the icing never came together.

Place one layer down and pour on 1/3 of strawberry, lemon juice and then place 1/2 the strawberries on top of the cake.

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Add icing on top:

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Repeat with the next two layers, finishing the top level with juice but no strawberries:

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Ice with either the remaining white chocolate icing or a cream cheese icing. Store in the fridge until ready to serve.

When I made the cake for the bake-off, I decorated with some chocolate covered strawberries:

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If you want more info on how to assemble a two layer cake or more instructions on this specific cake, just let me know!

Red Wine Chocolate Cake

As I’ve mentioned before, I love having people over for dinner! I’m no expert dinner thrower though, as I usually need about an extra hour when I’m having a large group over. I did a chicken fried steak dinner for 10 friends recently, and if one of my friends hadn’t come over early there would have been no vegetable, and I had to completely scrap the gravy (usually the best part).

One problem though (and I’m sure most of you would not see this as a problem), is that I end up with extra wine. I’m not a wine drinker, so I never know what to do with it. When it is white wine, I sometimes make a risotto. When it is red wine, I might try a meat sauce that needs wine or make this red wine cake.

This is a really delicious cake that is easy to make and easy to clean up. The cake has a very strong wine, chocolate flavor, so the mascarpone cream sauce that accompanies it is crucial (and delicious). I recently discovered mascarpone when making some of giada’s mashed potatoes, and found it to be delicious. As the container informed me, it is just an Italian cream cheese. I even substituted it in a cream cheese icing recently, and it tasted great!

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So, next time you are looking for something to do with the left over red wine in your fridge, check out this recipe. I followed smitten kitchen’s recipe exactly, so I’ll just give you the link to her recipe and tempt you with my pictures.

Red Wine Cake

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I’m back!

Hello! Sorry I have become so delinquent with posting. I just found an ap for my iPad that will allow me to post pictures, so I am hoping I will start posting more again! I end up taking the train into the city most weekends, so it will be the perfect time to share the latest with you.  Since it has been so long, I thought I would just post an update with some of the things I’ve made since I moved to New York and mainly recently.

For labor day fireworks at west point, I made some ice cream sandwiches from the smitten kitchen blog. I picked up some cake batter ice cream from one of the five ice cream shops in my little town to give it a little bit of a different twist. smitten kitchen ice cream sandwiches

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Izzy loved them:

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I found an awesome grocery store just 20 minutes from me (everything is 20 to 30 min. away), and they have the best fruit in the summer! I went on a blueberry kick and made a bunch of blueberry yumminess, including these blueberry crumb bars, again from smitten kitchen.

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After hosting dinner parties at least once a month in Nashville (if not more), by November I had made enough friends to have one in new york! One of the desserts I served was a cranberry apple pie from cooks illustrated.

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In December, my good friends Raven and Joe hosted a holiday mad men party. In honor of the theme, I made a Christmas jello mold. One person tried it at the party. I took it into work and it took almost a week for it to disappear (which is impressive given that most things put down in the lounge are gone in less than 15 min). I guess jello isn’t so popular anymore.

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If you are looking for a delicious but easy dessert, try a molten chocolate cake. The recipe called for 13 minutes in the oven. I’d recommend reducing that to 12… Just to increase the gooeyness. molten chocolate cake

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Finally, while not meant to be a dessert, I thought I would share that I recently competed in another food competition. As you may remember, the last time I entered one, I lost miserably. (See my blog post on it.) This one ended in the same result. Maybe the third time will be the charm. I made a lemon, strawberry pizza. It was supposed to have fresh basil, but I bought bay leaves by accident…

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The winner made a pear, Gorgonzola, walnut pizza:

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Pumpkin Dessert Squares

Originally posted November 18, 2011

Confession: Every time I go to the mall I stop by Williams-Sonoma with rarely any intention of buying anything.  I am there for the sample of the day.  This particular sample is my favorite.  A layer of pumpkin between a cake bottom and a crumb top makes for a particularly gooey and delicious bite.

I had completely forgotten about this recipe until I stopped by the store the other day and they had some fresh out of the oven.  When I came home the other night in the mood to bake, I knew this is what I wanted.

While W-S would love for you to use their Pecan Pumpkin Butter… I’m here to tell you that it does not matter.  I used Trader Joe’s pumpkin butter and it works just as well.  For the crumb topping, use your favorite fall spices.  I added a little all-spice (which is a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves) to the teaspoon of cinnamon the recipe calls for.  Also, I had a “Butter Recipe Golden” cake mix on hand, rather than a yellow cake mix, and it worked equally as well.

This recipe is super simple, and the only annoying part is that you will have to wash three bowls, one for each layer.

Pumpkin Butter Dessert Squares
(adapted from Williams-Sonoma Recipe)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Bottom Layer
Yellow (or butter recipe) cake mix (remove 1 cup for topping)
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 large egg

Pumpkin Layer
13.5 oz. pumpkin butter (any brand will do)
2 egg
2 Tbsp. milk

Crumb Layer
1 cup cake mix
1 Tbsp. flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. all-spice (or nutmeg or cloves or more cinnamon)

In separate bowls, mix together ingredients for each layer.  In a greased 9×13 pan, layer with cake, then pumpkin, then crumb topping.  Bake in 350 degree oven for 35-40 minutes.

Pumpkin Cupcakes

Originally posted October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!!!!

I didn’t dress up or carve any jack-o-lanterns this year, but I did enjoy plenty of pumpkin. I made these pumpkin cupcakes for school today and also because yesterday was a beautiful Sunday!  Most of the blogs I have seen used browned butter icing, so I thought I would use the same.  It adds a nice twist and an extra flavor to the pumpkin cupcake.

This recipe is adapted from a pumpkin square recipe that my friend’s mom gave me (thanks to Becca and her mom!).

I’m glad I got plenty of pumpkins before the holiday snuck up because apparently the grocery stores are all out!

Trick-or-treaters: I bought pumpkin shaped reeses, so feel free to come by my house!

Pumpkin Cupcakes
Adapted from Nancy Thomason’s Pumpkin Squares

Cake Ingredients
4 Eggs
1 2/3 cups sugar
1 cup cooking oil
1 16 oz. canned pumpkin (or 2 cups fresh pumpkin)
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. allspice
1 tea salt
1 tea baking soda

In a mixing bowl, beat together eggs, sugar, oil and pumpkin until light and fluffy.  Stir together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and baking soda.  Add to pumpkin mixture and mix thoroughly.

Add batter to paper lined cupcake pans.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, depending on the size you are baking.

Cream Cheese Icing Ingredients

1 8oz. pk. Cream cheese
½ cup butter, browned
1 tea vanilla
3 ½ cups sifted powdered sugar

Brown butter in a skillet.  The butter will give off a nutty aroma and start to bubble and brown.  Allow butter to cool.  Beat together cream cheese and butter.  Mix in sugar and vanilla.

Color with food coloring if desired.

Add to cooled cupcakes.

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.

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!!