Cookies n’ Cream Layer Cake

There is a tangible difference in food that’s been made with care and love versus food that’s been made without them and don’t you let anyone tell you there isn’t. Anyone who says there isn’t has never had food made for them with love, and that’s truly unfortunate. When I was younger, I thought it just boiled down to some people were good cooks and some people weren’t–now that I’m older and that I’ve learned how to cook and bake rather well myself I understand that it’s a bit more complicated than that.

I’ve eaten in swank restaurants where the food was both expensive and undoubtedly delicious, but given the choice I still would’ve rather been in my grandma’s house eating a dish of her smothered steak and gravy.  I would take her Lemon Pound Cake over the most pricey, fancy souffle from the best pastry chef in the world ANY DAY.

Know why? Because regardless of whether or not the fancy food tastes delicious, I know for a fact that there is more love for ME personally in her dishes than anything a chef that doesn’t know me from Eve can put into his food, no matter how technically flawless it is. It may sound corny, but for me, food made with love tastes like home; the taste that gives you the ‘itis’ where you’re full, satisfied, and want to take a nap afterwards, then wake up and have a little bit more.

The only thing more gratifying for me than eating food made with love is being the one to make it for my loved ones, especially when it’s a special request/favorite of theirs. Because I know them, I know exactly what they want and how they’re going to want the food to taste and that knowledge makes me all the more determined to put as much care and consideration into what I’m doing to make sure the food meets their anticipation for it. My fellow food bloggers/cooks out there will know the immense feeling of satisfaction that comes with watching someone you love eat and rave over their favorite food and know that YOU were the one to make it for them. It’s a wonderful thing.

My twin sister came out to visit us a few months ago. There’s little to nothing that I don’t know about her, including the fact that she loves practically ANYTHING cookies and cream flavored. The Cookies and Cream flavor is best described as that of the Oreo sandwich cookie: a sweet vanilla base mixed with chocolate. She mostly eats ice cream, and we very well could’ve just got a pint of it to keep in the freezer but when she booked her flight to come out here I decided to make something that was bit more special than ice cream to surprise her with.

This may be the easiest layer cake I’ve ever made. Unlike most others that have lengthy ingredients and complex instructions this cake is so simple it doesn’t even require a standing or hand held mixer. If you’ve got a large bowl, a whisk (or even a fork), you can make this cake and have it baking in the oven in less than ten minutes, no joke. The recipe that I included does give instructions for making whipped cream from scratch. However. In the case that you don’t have a standing or handheld mixer….lean in closer. A little bit closer. Little bit closer.

*whisper*  You can buy pre-made cool whip that you thaw and it will still work out fine.

The finished product is what is probably the most “Cookies and Cream”-y thing I’ve ever seen or tasted. Normally I’m not even a huge fan of chocolate cake, but the combination of the cake with the cookies and cream whipped cream filling just really works. The cake texture itself is very moist, the chocolate flavor isn’t overwhelming and there’s a fluffiness in the whipped cream that adds lightness to the cake that cuts some of its richness. Then again, I DID make it with lots of love. That was bound to have an effect on the tastebuds.

Sharing this cake at this week’s Fiesta Friday #180  co-hosted this week by Tracey @ My Baja Kitchen and Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

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Cookies n' Cream Layer Cake

Recipe Adapted from Serious Eats

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Ingredients

For Cake

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 plus 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup plus two tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 cup plus two tablespoons sour cream (or plain yogurt)
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For Whipped Cream

  • 50 Oreo cookies
  • 4 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray two 9 inch cake pans with cooking spray, then line with wax or parchment paper; spray the paper and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt with a fork or wire whisk and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl combine the sugar, vegetable oil, eggs and vanilla and beat with a fork or a whisk. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ones and mix thoroughly.

Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and place the pans on a large sheet pan. Bake in the oven until cake separates from the sides of the pans and a toothpick or knife inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes.

Allow cakes to cool in pans for about ten minutes, then turn out and allow to cool completely on wire racks.

Take a knife and cut 10 of the Oreos in half and set aside. Put the rest of the cookies in a Ziploc plastic bag and use a rolling pin or the bottom of a glass to crush into crumbs.

In a mixing bowl beat the heavy cream in 2 batches, 2 cups at a time until the cream has stiff peaks. Beat the vanilla and powdered sugar in with the second batch, then combine them together. Reserve about 3/4 cup of whipped cream in a small bowl in the fridge.  Gently fold in all but about 1 cup of the crushed Oreo cookie crumbs with a spatula.

Level both cakes so that they are flat on the tops. Line the edges of a cake platter with strips of parchment paper to keep the platter clean while you assemble the cake. Place one cake layer on the platter.  Spread about half of the Oreo whipped cream onto the cake, then place the second cake layer on top. Use a spatula to cover the tops and sides of the cakes with a thin layer of the cream, then refrigerate for about 1 hour until the layer is firm, to allow a crumb coat to form.

Place the rest of the cookie cream on top and on the sides of the cake. Take the reserved cookie crumbs and press evenly onto the sides of the cake with your fingers. (This may get a little messy so you can place a layer of foil or wax paper underneath the cake to pick up any of the spare crumbs.) Take the Oreos you’ve sliced in half and press onto the top of the cake. Remove the bottom strips of parchment paper. Take the reserved whipped cream and pipe small rosettes in between the sliced Oreos and along the bottom of the cake to form a border. You can also place one whole Oreo in the center of the cake and pipe rosettes around that, if you like.

Refrigerate for about 1 hour to allow whipped cream to set before slicing and serving. Keep cake refrigerated when not eating.

Malinda Russell’s Washington Cake

Gather round guys. Hi(story) lesson time.

The ‘official’ independence day for the United States is July 4th, as the Declaration of Independence from Great Britain was signed by the colonists of the Continental Congress on July 4th, 1776. However, if we’re going to get down to brass tacks, the facts are these: freedom in the colonies was at that  time only extended to white men and women; the independence/emancipation of the sizable population of Africans who had been stolen from their homes & transported to the colonies through the Trans-Atlantic slave trade were not included in the Constitution, nor were they granted their freedom after the Revolutionary War.

A widely held belief is that the Emancipation Proclamation that President Abraham Lincoln authorized and put into effect in 1863 during the Civil War is what ultimately freed the slaves. This is somewhat inaccurate.  The official laws of the post-Civil War United States did not grant freedom to all African Americans until the ratification of the 13th amendment in 1865, almost 90 years after the Revolutionary War (and even then, there was still a loophole to that amendment if the individual had committed a crime, see Ava Duvernay’s “13th” documentary on Netflix for more on that). Without getting too bogged down into historical details, I’ll just say this: the EP was a military tactic that specifically freed slaves in the Southern rebel Confederate states that had committed treason against the Union and were then considered enemy territory, but had been won and occupied by the Union Army during the war. It left out slaves within the border states as well as territory within 3 Confederate states that were under Union control.

Why am I saying all of this?

Well, next Monday will be June 19th.  Even though the Emancipation had taken effect on January 1st 1863, the slaves in the state of Texas, widely isolated from the North and Southern parts of the country did not even receive word of it until June 19th 1865, after the Civil War had ended and President Lincoln had been assassinated. Many of these freed people of Texas commemorated June 19th as the day of their emancipation and made it one of celebration and religious ceremonies. Like any other celebration, this included good food.

(There’s a point to all of this, and I’m getting to it now, I swear.)

Malinda Russell was an African American woman born in 1820 in the state of Tennessee. Because her grandmother was freed by her owner, her subsequent children and grandchildren were also freed. By her account, Malinda wanted to immigrate to Liberia where there was a colony of former African American slaves, but was robbed by one of her traveling companions & forced to stay in Virginia. She worked there and in Tennessee again as a washerwoman, nurse, cook, and later kept a pastry shop. After this, she moved to Michigan where she published “A Domestic Cook Book Containing a Careful Selection of Useful Receipts for the Kitchen ” in 1866. The pamphlet that Malinda published became the first cook book published by a Black woman in the United States.

As an African American, I am the descendant of slaves myself on both sides of my family, so the date/celebration of June 19th, holds a particular historical significance to me. Second, like Mrs. Russell,  I’m a Black woman from Michigan who loves to cook/bake, and can do it rather well. (I’d also love to write a cookbook of my own one day, knock on wood)

Her story resonates with me. Her food resonates with me. Therefore, I decided I would pay tribute to the lady, her story and her food in this post.

This is, hands down, one of the best cakes I’ve ever made. The texture inside is SO tender and moist. When I first took it out of the oven, I was concerned that despite being the right temperature, I’d under-baked it because it seemed a little wet in the center of the tube. Nope. It wasn’t underdone in the slightest. It was just perfect.

I can’t claim to have altered this recipe too much; it’s practically perfect enough all on its own. My personal modification was to add orange zest and juice to the batter to give a citrus flavor to what’s already a dynamite butter cake, then add an icing also flavored with orange juice. If you’d like to try another citrus, like lemon, lime, (heck maybe even grapefruit), I think you’d get equally wonderful results.

Linking this post up to Fiesta Friday #176, co-hosted this week by  Monika @ Everyday Healthy Recipes and Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

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Malinda Russell's Washington Cake

Recipe Adapted from “American Cake” by Anne Byrn

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temp
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon orange juice
  • 2-3 teaspoons milk

Directions

Preheat oven to 325°. Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan and set aside.

Place the butter in the bowl of a standing mixer or a large bowl. Beat until light and fluffy on medium speed, about 1 minute. With mixer still running, gradually add the sugar and salt beat until mixture becomes light and creamy again. Make sure to frequently scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula to ensure even mixing.

Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing for about 15 seconds each. Turn mixer off.
In a small bowl combine the baking soda with the buttermilk. In a medium size bowl combine the flour with the cream of tartar. Alternate between adding the dry ingredients and the buttermilk mixture to the butter-egg mixture; start AND end with the flour and be sure to remember to scrape down the sides of the bowl with the spatula to ensure even mixing. Fold in the orange juice and zest last, stirring until just combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing with a spatula. Tap the pan a few times on the counter top to help prevent air bubbles.
Place on middle rack of oven and bake until the top of the cake is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out just clean, about 1 hour and 10 minutes. (Pound cakes are done at an inner temp of around a 195-200°. Fahrenheit)
Allow to cool in pan for about 25-30 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

In a medium bowl, combine the powdered sugar with the orange juice and just enough of the milk to make a thick icing. Use the tines of a fork to drizzled on top of the cake, then allow icing to harden completely.

Strawberry Supreme Birthday Cake

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It’s my niece’s 4th birthday tomorrow. I have no idea how this kid is four already. I swear it was just yesterday I was sitting in the hospital room when she was wheeled in from the delivery with her mom, swaddled in her little burrito blanket. Time really does fly when it comes to kids, even when you’re just helping raise them.

I know I’m biased, but she really is such a sweetheart. I love her to death and feel blessed to have been able to be a major part of her life.

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I’ve been making her cakes for her day for the past two years. Last years was this Funfetti Cake. This year when I asked her what kind she wanted, she didn’t hesitate to reply: “Strawberry Cake, Auntie.”

I had my marching orders. A Strawberry Birthday Cake it was.

What first comes to y’all’s minds when you hear Strawberry Cake?

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If you’re like me, maybe you thought about strawberry shortcake–which is delicious, but I also knew wasn’t what my niece was talking about. There’s strawberry shortcake; a fluffy biscuit-y cake that’s served with whipped cream and strawberries. Then, there’s the Strawberry Cake; a pink colored cake that usually comes from a box mix. I loved it myself as a kid, and what little kid wouldn’t? It’s pink. It’s EXTREMELY sweet. 9 times out of 10 it’s spread with pink frosting.

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What’s the problem? Well, that cake is just so overly sweet  and artificial tasting. The ‘strawberry’ flavor and color often comes from the addition of a packet of strawberry jello packet. While this may not make a huge difference to a four year old little girl, it sure makes a difference to her 27 year old foodie and baker auntie who doesn’t like to have anything to do with box cake mixes.

I still wanted to give my baby what she wanted though: a yummy, pretty strawberry birthday cake. Guess what? I think I did, even sans cake mix.

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I won’t lie: layer cakes of any kind take patience and time. They can be a labor of love, and this cake is no exception. However, I’ve found that the work can be spread out over two days so that you’re not so rushed or in the kitchen for hours at a time by baking the cakes themselves on Day 1, refrigerating them overnight, then making the filling/frostings and assembling the whole thing on Day 2.

And I do have to say, the work is one hundred percent worth it. I don’t think this cake could be more of a Strawberry Cake if it tried: strawberries are literally in EVERY SINGLE part of it. There are pureed strawberries in the batter. The cake is filled with a fresh strawberry curd. The frosting is mixed with even more pureed strawberries.

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Strawberry on strawberry on strawberry.

The cake bakes up very moist and fluffy. The only downside was that the pureed strawberries in the batter did sink to the bottom of the pans. But that turned out okay too because they just melded together more with the strawberry curd. I’ve made lemon curd before, but never strawberry. This one was extremely easy to do and the result is a tart, smooth curd which gives a real punch of strawberry freshness to the overall taste of the cake. I think it might be the best part, to be honest. The frosting isn’t overly sweet thanks to the addition of the cream cheese to the butter and powdered sugar. And the scoop of the fresh strawberry puree gave it that pretty in pink tint that I knew my niece would love.

Linking this post with Fiesta Friday #161, co-hosted this week by Laura @ Feast Wisely.

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Strawberry Supreme Birthday Cake

Recipe Adapted from Taste of the South Magazine

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Ingredients

For Cake

  • 2 cups fresh strawberries
  • 2½ cups cake flour
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup ice water
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup butter shortening, at room temp
  • 1 ¾ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 large egg whites, at room temp
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar

For Strawberry Curd Filling

  • 1 (16-ounce) package frozen sliced strawberries in syrup, thawed and drained
  • 1⁄2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1⁄4 cup butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 teaspoon strawberry extract

For Strawberry Frosting

  • 1⁄2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1⁄2 cup reserved strawberry purée (from Strawberry Curd)
  • 1 teaspoon strawberry extract
  • 6 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 325 °. Flour, grease and line three round 8 or 9 inch cake pans with wax paper or parchment paper. Set aside.

Pulse strawberries in a food processor or blender until well blended, but still with some chunks inside. Set aside in a small bowl. In a medium bowl, sift together the cake flour, all purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In a small bowl, combine the ice water, whole milk and buttermilk. In bowl of a standing mixer or using a handheld mixer, cream together the butter and shortening until creamy, about 3-4 minutes. Add the sugar and vanilla, mixing another 3 minutes. Add the egg and beat just until combined. Alternating adding the flour mixture and the milk mixture to the bowl, starting and ending with flour mixture, scraping down the sides of the bowl with spatula to ensure it’s well mixed. Remove this mixture to another bowl, & wipe out thoroughly. Using clean beaters, place the egg whites and cream of tartar together in the bowl at medium speed, beating until soft peaks form. Using a spatula, fold the egg whites into the cake batter. Fold in the strawberries. Divide the batter evenly between the three pans, smoothing the tops with spatula. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted inside cakes comes out clean. Let cool in pans for 20 minutes before removing from pans and letting cool completely on wire racks.

For Curd: Pour the drained strawberries into a food processor or blender and pulse until smooth. Remove and reserve 1/2 cup of t he puree for the Strawberry frosting. In a medium saucepan, add the strawberries, sugar, cornstarch, egg yolks and lemon juice over medium heat, whisking constantly until thickened; about 7-8 minutes., Remove from heat and add the butter in chunks, then the strawberry extract. Let mixture cool slightly, cover with a piece of plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours before using.

For Frosting: Cream together the butter and cream cheese in bowl of a standing mixer or using a handheld one until fluffy. Add the reserved strawberry puree and the extract and mix until just combined. Add the confectioner’s sugar one cup at a time and beat together until smooth and creamy.

To Assemble: Level the tops of each cake. Line the edges of a cake platter with strips of parchment paper to keep the platter clean while you assemble the cake. Place one cake layer on the platter. Pipe a border of frosting around the edges of the cake. Spread about half of the strawberry curd inside the border, smoothing with a spatula. Top with another cake layer and repeat process. Top with final cake layer. Spread entire cake with just frosting enough over the top and sides to make a crumb coat. (It should be thin).  Refrigerate cake for one hour until the crumb coat is firm. Finish spreading the remainder of the frosting on the cake, decorating with sprinkles if desired. Remove the parchment strips from the platter before serving.

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Chocolate King Cake

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On the twelfth night after Christmas, January 6th, the Feast of the Epiphany begins. In the Christian faith, it’s supposed to celebrate the coming of the 3 Wise Men/Kings to the Christ Child and the bringing of gifts to honor him. It’s also supposed to mark the beginning of the Mardi Gras season that lasts until Fat Tuesday, which is always 47 days before Easter Sunday. Although you may not be able to celebrate with the folks down south in N’Awlins at Mardi Gras, you can still celebrate in your own kitchen with traditional Cajun/Creole foods that are typically eaten at this time of year.

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Muffaletta sandwiches. Catfish. Shrimp n’ Grits. Beignets. There’s a chain of bakeries in my hometown that sells to-DIE-for Packzi, the jelly, fruit or cream filled donuts. I make a pretty mean Jambalaya myself, and last week I shared a recipe for what I think is also a pretty mean Gumbo. (Which you guys absolutely should try for yourselves). This week, four days before Fat Tuesday itself, I thought I would share one more recipe that gets a lot of attention this time of year: the King Cake.

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The King Cake is a staple of Mardi Gras food. It hearkens to the Feast of the Epiphany and the 3 Kings who came to visit the Christ Child, who in the Christian faith was called the King of Jews. Kings come to visit the King, thus yielding the King Cake; pretty self-explanatory. For that reason, a small plastic baby figurine is even tucked into the bottom of the finished product; the person who has and finds the baby in their piece of King Cake is supposed to have good luck for rest of the year.

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Alright, now down to brass tacks.

Although it’s called a ‘cake’ I would actually describe it in taste and texture as closer to a brioche style bread. It’s made with yeast in a very similar way to brioche and provided your dough is made right, the texture should be close to it as well; moist and buttery with a tender chew. Traditionally, King Cakes are filled and rolled up with a mixture of cinnamon, sugar and pecans. As you guys can see, mine…isn’t.

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Why? Well, two reasons. First, nuts are expensive and the old purse strings gave me the side-eye when I asked them about going out to get some. Second, I already had chocolate in the house and I’d say that a chocolate filled cake is just as tasty as one filled with nuts, right? Of course right.

What do you guys think of the finished product? The topping I kept traditional; a powdered sugar icing sprinkled with green, purple and yellow sanding sugar, which are the typical colors of Mardi Gras. And I think it both looks and tastes pretty nice if I may say so myself, nuts or no nuts.

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One thing I will advise is that you follow the tip that I included in the recipe to help maintain the circle shape through the second rise and baking. If you have an oven-safe bowl (like the kind creme brulee or lava cakes are made in) it would be perfect to wrap the ring around and let it proof and bake that way. If you don’t, that’s fine too. Just mist a big ball of crumpled up aluminum foil with cooking spray and wrap the ring loosely around that. Loosen the cake from eiher the bowl or the foil shortly after it comes out of the oven; it’ll make for easier removal. And if you’re so inclined, feel free to slip a plastic baby figurine (or a bean, because who actually has one of those just sitting around) into a slit that you cut into the bottom of your FINISHED & BAKED loaf for that special person to find and get their extra bit of luck for the rest of the year. Aaaaand, that’s it.

Laissez le bon temps rouler, y’all.

Linking this up to Fiesta Friday #160, co-hosted this week by  Anugya @ Indian Curry Shack and Margy @ La Petite Casserole.

Chocolate King Cake

Recipe Adapted from LouisianaCookin.com

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Ingredients

For Dough

  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tsp white sugar
  • 1/3 cup warm water (between 105° and 110°)
  • 1/2 cup plain sour cream (or 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed and softened

For Filling/Top

  • 1 2/3 cups chopped semi sweet chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons warm milk
  • 1 tablespoon baking cocoa or unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/3 cup powdered/confectioner’s sugar,
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • Yellow, green and purple sanding sugar/sprinkles

 

Directions

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with dough hook attachment, combine the warm water with the yeast. Sprinkle the 1 tsp white sugar on top & let sit for 10 minutes, until frothy. Meanwhile in a small bowl whisk together the sour cream (or buttermilk), vanilla extract, eggs and egg yolk. Mix into the yeast mixture and beat for about 1 minute.

Turn the mixer off and add the flour (1 cup at a time), salt and remaining 1/3 cup sugar. Beat at medium-low speed until most of the dry ingredients have been absorbed. Turn the speed up to medium and add the butter in small chunks, beating until combined, about 2 minutes. Flour your hands and a clean surface (like a pastry mat or wax paper. Scrape the dough out and onto the surface (it’s fine if it’s a little sticky). Gently knead it about 5-6 times until it’s smooth and pliable. Spray the mixing bowl with cooking spray and punch down into the bottom. Flip over and punch down one more time. Cover with a piece of plastic wrap, then a damp kitchen towel. Allow to rise until doubled in size for about 90 minutes in a warm place (I usually use my microwave).

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. Punch risen dough down onto floured surface and roll into a rectangle, about 17×16 inches. In a medium microwave safe bowl, combine the chopped chocolate and butter. Microwave in 30 second intervals until the chocolate is melted and smooth (don’t over-microwave or else chocolate will seize and be unusable; 60 seconds TOPS should do it). Stir in the baking cocoa or cocoa powder & warm milk. Spread in a thin layer over the rectangle of dough.

Starting with one short side, roll dough into a log and pinch the seams thoroughly to seal. Gently lift and place on baking sheet and form a ring, pinching the ends together to seal. (You can use a ball of aluminum foil lightly sprayed with cooking spray or a small oven-safe bowl placed in the center of the ring, to help it maintain its shape). Cover with plastic wrap and damp kitchen towel and let rise until doubled in size, about 60 minutes.

Preheat oven to 325°. Uncover cake. Use kitchen shears to make 7 (1/4 inch) deep cut into top of dough. Bake until golden brown, about 35 minutes & covering with foil if browning too quickly. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

For icing, combine powdered sugar with vanilla extract & milk in a small bowl. (If too stiff, add 1 tsp milk until spreadable) Drizzle over top of cake with a fork. Sprinkle colored sanding sugar in alternating colors. Let stand until icing is set.

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Hot Chocolate Marble Pound Cake

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So, in my Dulce de Leche Hot Chocolate post, I think I may have been a little harsh in my critique of the ‘just add water’ hot cocoa mix as an ingredient. I may have given you the impression that I think it completely useless and something to avoided at all times.

Not so. Not at all.

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Do I prefer to have my hot chocolate straight from real melted chocolate and milk: yes.  Do I still think the sky blue colored name brand hot chocolate with the ‘Sound of Music’ inspired mascot is nasty and should be avoided at all costs? Absolutely.

However, there’s a time and place for everything, and this absolutely extends to hot cocoa mix–especially when it comes to my favorite of activities: baking. There are still other name brands that I think produce perfectly fine powdered cocoa mixes, both for drinking and baking.

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….You guys DID know you could bake with hot cocoa mix with great results right? You totally can. You just have to make sure that (just like with booe) you pick and use a product that you would want to drink all on its own….which is exactly why I stand by my assertion that the Alps Girl hot chocolate should be avoided at all costs. It’s crap and I don’t think it would translate well in this recipe; stay away from it.

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At this time of year, I’ve seen the Land O’ Lakes gift baskets floating around with the HUGE variety of hot chocolate mixes. I’ve had several of those before and I think they’re pretty tasty all on their own and would be just fine to use. I opted used Nestle Abuelita Mexican Hot Chocolate mix in this recipe, as personally I prefer the flavors of Mexican hot chocolate to regular. Plus, the mix produces pretty tasty hot cocoa all on it’s own. If you have another gourmet brand of hot chocolate you want to use, have at it. Like I said: just make it something you’d want to drink.

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I’ve only made marble cake once before and to be honest, it wasn’t very successful. The marbling effect didn’t work out the way I wanted to and it ended up sinking to the bottom of the pan so that it wasn’t pretty and…yeah. Just a bad kitchen memory. But as the saying goes: if at first you don’t succeed, try try again.

I gotta say, I think my second attempt at marble cake came out not just pretty, but pretty damn tasty too if I may say so myself. What’s more, it’s pretty easy to do.

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Pound cake is the perfect vehicle for a marble cake because everyone loves a pound cake all on its own anyway. Once you take a standard vanilla pound cake batter and swirl it with a Mexican Hot Chocolate flavored one, you’re really just improving on a classic dessert that you’d be hard pressed to find someone who isn’t going to want a slice.

I included a recipe for the pretty icing drizzle, but I would ALSO highly recommend eating this with a scoop of vanilla ice cream with chocolate drizzled on top. Or, a scoop of chocolate ice cream with MORE chocolate drizzled on top for you chocaholics.

Oh! And maybe even eating a slice with a warm cup of hot cocoa on the side. Heh. See what I did there?

Happy Fiesta Friday #150, co-hosted this week by Caroline @ Caroline’s Cooking and Tânia @ Iwanttobeacook.

12 Days of Christmas Banner

Day 1: Stuffing Bread

Day 2: Pumpkin Crunch Tart

Day 3: Cinnamon Roll Cookies

Day 4: Dulce de Leche Hot Chocolate

Day 5: Almond Stamped Cookies

Day 6: Spiced Cookie Bark

Day 7: Demerara Sugar Buns

Day 8: Sugared Shortbread

Day 9: Hot Chocolate Marble Pound Cake

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Hot Chocolate Marble Pound Cake

Recipe Adapted from Food Network

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Ingredients

  • 2 sticks (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream (you can substitute buttermilk if you don’t have the sour cream; it’ll be fine)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup hot chocolate or cocoa mix (I used Nestle Abuelita Authentic Mexican Hot Chocolate Drink Mix)

For Icing

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • Milk
  • About 2 tablespoons melted chocolate chips
  • Sprinkles (optional)

 

Directions

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Spray a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray.

In a medium bowl combine the flour and salt together and set aside. In a small bowl whisk together the eggs, sour cream or milk and vanilla extract and set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer and using the wire attachment (or you can use a handheld mixer), cream together the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy. Alternately add in the flour (about 1/3 a cup at a time) and the egg mixture, starting and ending with the flour until just combined; don’t overmix.

Transfer about 1/3 of the batter to the small bowl you mixed the eggs/sour cream or milk in. Stir in the hot chocolate mix.

Take the greased loaf pan and spoon in a layer of the vanilla batter, using the butt end of the spoon or a rubber spatula to smooth it out to all four corners. Take about three rounded tablespoons of the chocolate batter and dollop it on top of the vanilla. Use the pointed end of the knife to swirl the chocolate batter into the vanilla. Repeat, spooning another layer of vanilla batter on top followed by 3 more dollops of chocolate. When you’ve used all the batter, insert the knife down to the bottom of the pan and give it a few more swirls; not too many or you’ll ruin the marble effect.

Give the pan 2 or 3 taps on the counter, place on a baking sheet and bake for 90 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean and the inner temp of the cake reaches 195-200 degrees Fahrenheit.

Let the cake cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely.

For the icing: Place the powdered sugar in a small bowl and add enough milk to make a thick icing, 1 tablespoon at a time. Using the tines of a fork, drizzle it on top of the cooled cake. Take the leftover frosting and stir in the melted chocolate chips. Once the white icing has cooled, take the chocolate icing and drizzle a second layer of icing on top of that. Top with sprinkles if desired. Allow icing to set before cutting and serving, about 30-45 minutes.

Heavenly Candy Bar Cake

Candy Bar Cake1

Today’s post and recipe are going to be dedicated to several folks. So, shout out(s) to:

Will Smith, Avril Lavigne,  Serena Williams, Michael Buble, Gloria Estefan, Zendaya Coleman, Beyonce Knowles Carter, Alecia “Pink” Moore Hart, Avicii, Michelle Williams, Jennifer Hudson, Emmy Rossum, Barry White, Amy Winehouse, Tom Hardy, Tommy Lee Jones, BB King, Scott Hoying, Stephen King, Jason Derulo, Alfonso Ribeiro, Bruce Springsteen, Ray Charles, Anthony Mackie and Catherine Zeta Jones.

It’s quite a diverse list, but still: I’m sure most of you can guess what all these folks have in common, right?

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All of the above had the great privilege of being born in the month of September.

Just like yours truly.

My birthday is coming up again guys. On September 27th (at 9:01 a.m., to be exact) I’ll be twenty seven.

I don’t feel twenty seven (three years away from 30, yikes.) Being completely honest I sometimes forget how old I am. It’s a day that mostly passes with little fanfare or to-do. I’ve never had a birthday party and twenty seven seems like a little late to start up the practice. But that’s fine by me. I don’t much like parties anyway.

Candy Bar Cake2

There is however, one thing  that so far as the birthday tradition goes, even I am unwilling to do without: a fantastic birthday cake.

That’s something that EVERYONE is entitled to. That’s something that EVERYONE ought to get.

Not to blow my own horn too loud, but… baking fantastic cakes is something that I think I kiiiinda know a little something about. Especially this one. This one’s going up there with the best of the best cakes to come outta my kitchen.

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So, the inspiration for this recipe comes out of a Southern Cake cookbook that my mom bought for me a little ways back. From the minute I first saw it, I immediately put a bookmark on the page, determined to bake it for myself once just the right special occasion came around.

If my own birthday isn’t a special enough occasion, then I think it’s safe to say that the birthdays of all the above mentioned stars certainly does. You’ll be seeing stars after the first bite of this cake, I’ll tell you that.

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If you were to ask most people- not all, but MOST people- they’d tell you that their favorite candy car is a certain kind made with milk chocolate, caramel, chopped peanuts and nougat. One with huge block letters with the commercials that ask you if you’re hungry, then tell you to grab one.

You know which one I mean. That one. It’s certainly MY favorite. So, I kinda went ahead and made it the focal point of the cake along with another certain candy bar that consists of milk chocolate and almonds. If you prefer another kind of candy bar; say the one that’s made with milk chocolate, caramel and nougat, OR the one with just milk chocolate and nougat that’s named after the book by Alexandre Dumas then I think those would work just as well with this cake as well.

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The base is a standard vanilla and it actually has melted candy bars in it, giving just a hint of the chocolate flavor without quite being a marble cake. It comes out oh-so moist, fluffy and of course, rich. The original recipe called for a chocolate marshmallow icing to go in between the cake layers but personally, I thought that was a little bit TOO sweet so, I diverted to my go-to chocolate buttercream that I used for my Fluffy Yellow Layer Cake instead. After that, I took the leftover fun-size candy bars I had, chopped them into quarters and pressed the quarters into the sides of the cake to give it a ‘brickle’ kind of effect. The crumbs from the almond chocolate got sprinkled around the rim of the top.

Now c’mon guys tell me honestly: is this a cake, or is this a CAKE?

(Linking this post to Fiesta Friday #138, co-hosted this week by  Mollie @ The Frugal Hausfrau and Johanne @ French Gardener Dishes.)

Heavenly Candy Bar Cake

Recipe Adapted from The Southern Cake Book

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Ingredients

For the Cake

  • 9 fun-size or 21 mini chocolate-coated caramel and/or creamy nougat bars (I used Snickers minis and Hershey’s Milk Chocolate with Almonds Nuggets)
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Frosting

  • 20 tbsp. (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) confectioner’s sugar
  • 3/4 cup Dutch processed cocoa powder
  • Pinch table salt
  • 3/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 8 ounces milk chocolate, melted and slightly cooled
  • About 15-20 mini chocolate-coated caramel and/or creamy nougat bars (I used Snickers minis and Hershey’s Milk Chocolate with Almonds Nuggets), chopped

 Directions

For Cake:

Melt candy bars and butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat about 5 minutes, stirring until smooth. Set aside.

Beat sugar and shortening at medium speed with an electric mixer about 3 minutes or until well blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition.

Combine flour and salt. Stir together buttermilk and baking soda. Gradually add flour mixture to sugar mixture, alternately with buttermilk mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition. Stir in melted candy bar mixture and vanilla. Spoon batter into 3 greased and floured 9-inch cakepans.

Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until a wooden pick comes out clean. Cool in pans on a wire rack 10 minutes; remove cakes from pans, and let cool completely on wire rack. Spread half of Chocolate-Marshmallow Frosting evenly between cake layers. Spread remaining frosting evenly over top and sides of cake. Garnish, if desired.

For Frosting:

Using a standing or hand held mixer, cream the butter, confectioner’s sugar, cocoa and salt together until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the corn syrup and vanilla and mix until just combined, about 5 to 10 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the chocolate and mix together until smooth and creamy, about 10-15-seconds.

Line the edges of a cake platter with strips of parchment paper to keep the platter clean while you assemble the cake. Place one (evenly leveled) cake layer on the platter. Spread about 1 cup of the frosting evenly across the top of the cake with a spatula. Place the second cake layer on top, then spread another cup of the frosting evenly over the top and sides of the cake. Place the third layer on top, then spread a very thin layer of frosting around the top and all sides in a crumb coat. Refrigerate cake for about 1 hour, then frost cake with remaining frosting.

Using the chopped candy bars, press into the sides of the cake gently. Refrigerate for about thirty minutes to set.

Remove the parchment strips from the platter before serving.

  

Chocolate Chip Cookie Icebox Cake

CCC Icebox Cake6

Hey guys.

Greetings from the West Coast.

I made it to California on Sunday and have spent the last few days getting settled and doing some exploring of the area. I gotta say, Michigan this place is NOT. It’s sooooo different in so many ways.

CCC Icebox Cake5

The first most obvious difference is the climate. It’s the beginning of September which for Michigan would mean that very soon (if not already)the temperature would begin to drop and give way to autumn.  We also see our fair share of rain in the Mitten.

Well, I may have only been here three and a half days but I’ve checked the forecast for the next 10 and so far The Weather Channel says that there’s nothing but sunny skies ahead with the temperature in the upper 70’s and 80’s. The ‘heat’ here is even different. You feel it, but unlike in Michigan, Calif heat as I’ve experienced it isn’t oppressive/humid/muggy. There’s usually a breeze that comes up to temper the heat from the sun. It’s nice.

CCC Icebox Cake1

The city I’m living in was literally built in the middle of a desert valley, so at any moment, in just about any place you’re at, you can look off in the distance and see the tall, rolling mountains surrounding you. This may seem commonplace and un-extraordinary if you’re used to it, but I’m not, so I think it’s pretty awesome and beautiful.

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Perhaps most importantly…OMG, there are SO many different restaurants/food options out here! Back where I’m from in Michigan we really only had a handful of independently owned restaurants/joints besides the major chains. Not the case out here. I’ve had to add the Yelp app back onto my phone just to be able to pinpoint the highest rated places around where we are (and there are plenty). I’m excited to be able to try them out on the days when I don’t cook and/or have leftovers in the fridge.

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As for today’s post, this is actually a recipe that I made a couple weeks before I made the big move. I figured that I would be busy both right before I left and that I would also need some time to get settled in the new spot before I made my first meal in the new apartment and tried to put together new photoshoots and posts. My instincts were correct and although I plan to start cooking in the new spot tomorrow, I do have several back-up posts ready to share just in case I don’t get to take pics and write up recipes.

CCC Icebox Cake4

An icebox ‘cake’ is probably the easiest type of cake to make there is (even easier than a box cake mix), since in most cases there is no baking involved at all. Really all it involves is the layering of cookies, ladyfingers, biscuits or pre-made cake in between whipped cream/custard or some other kind of filling. The mixture is allowed to rest overnight in the fridge and the filling softens the base carbs so that they become soft and chewy; like a ‘cake’.

It’s a stupid easy technique that can result in stupid delicious results. Like this one I’ve made for you guys today.

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If you’re new to icebox cakes, then let me make a staunch recommendation to you: start with a chocolate chip cookie one. Why?

Well #1, everyone loves chocolate chip cookies. Ev-ery-one. And if they don’t, well…maybe you shouldn’t know them. Number #2, this chocolate chip cookie recipe that I use is extremely simple to follow and tastes delicious; however, it’s also perfectly fine to use store-bought ones if you’re not in the mood for baking them beforehand. And CCCs are something that can be found in just about any grocery store. The flavors here are no-frills and pretty up front; chocolate chip cookies are sandwiched between layers of vanilla flavored whipped cream,then topped with more whipped cream, melted chocolate, sprinkles and crumbled chocolate chip cookies.

Guys. I mean…need I say more? Just *look* at it, will you? And yes, I guarantee it tastes every bit as delicious as it looks.

Happy Fiesta Friday #136, where I’ll be sharing this cake co-hosted this week by Judi @ CookingWithAuntJuJu.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Icebox Cake

Cookie Recipe Courtesy of Land O’ Lakes

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Ingredients

For the Cookies*:

  • 4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups Butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 (12-ounce) package (2 cups)real semi-sweet chocolate chunks or chocolate chips

(Note: You can completely bypass this step and buy storebought chocolate chip cookies if you prefer. I’d just make sure I had about 20-30 total to fill the entire pan.)

For Assembly:

  • 4 cups cold heavy cream
  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips
  • funfetti sprinkles, optional

Directions

 Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in bowl; set aside.

 Combine butter, sugar and brown sugar in another bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy.

Add eggs and vanilla. Continue beating, scraping bowl often, until well mixed.

Gradually add flour mixture, beating at low speed until well mixed. Stir in chocolate chunks.

Refrigerate dough for at least four hours, but preferably overnight.

Heat oven to 375°F.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoons, 2 inches apart, onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 8-11 minutes or until light golden brown. (Do not overbake.) Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets; remove to cooling rack.

Whisk the heavy cream and cream cheese together in a standing mixer using the wire attachment until soft peaks form. Add the confectioner’s sugar and vanilla bean paste/vanilla extract and continue to whisk until medium-stiff peaks form. Refrigerate until ready to use. (Note: make sure the cookies are COMPLETELY cool before beginning to assemble cake.)

Spray the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray. (You can use a regular 9 inch pan, you just won’t be able to remove the whole cake and will have to cut it out piece by piece when ready to eat)

Place one layer of chocolate chip cookies down in the bottom of the pan, breaking apart into pieces to fill in the gaps if need be. Spread a thick layer of the whipped cream (about 1 cup) over the cookies using a spatula to spread smoothly and evenly. Repeat to form about 3-4 more layers, ending with a layer of whipped cream on top. (You’re probably going to have leftover cookies; that’s totally fine.)

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Take 1-2 of the leftover cookies and crumble between your fingers. Spread the chunks of cookie over the top center of the cake in a small pile.

Microwave the semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips in a glass measuring cup or microwave-safe bowl. Drizzle the melted chocolate over the cookie crumbs, then add the funfetti sprinkles if desired.

Refrigerate one more time, 30-minutes to an hour, just until chocolate/whipped cream has set and hardened. Unclasp the spring from the pan and gently lift out. Cut into slices and serve.