Sunday, March 25, 2012

Bittersweet Chocolate Pear Cake

Hooray! I'm back!

Sorry for the break, but we've been moving these past couple of weeks. If you haven't moved lately I would advise against it, since it turns your whole life into a tornado of not knowing where anything is and a thousand boxes and discovering how dirty it is behind your furniture.

But, if you can persevere, the reward is, in our case, a brand new kitchen! It looks like this:

And it is wonderful and big and full of natural light and there's an oven in it that doesn't hate my guts.

So this week I decided to take advantage of it by making this Bittersweet Chocolate Pear Cake. I don't know about you but pears are one of my favorite fruits and any kind of desert with pears in it sounds like a good idea to me.

And that instinct is not wrong. The bittersweet chocolate... the pears... the browned all comes together so beautifully.

Your ingredients: Flour, sugar, baking powder, pears, bittersweet chocolate pieces, eggs, and butter

Whisk together the flour and baking powder.

Chop up your pears.

Beat your eggs until they are very pale and very thick. You can do it by hand but it takes forever. In a mixer it takes about 10 minutes.

While you're waiting on the eggs to thicken up, brown your butter in a medium skillet. Wait until the butter starts to make a nutty smell, but don't let it burn. Pour it into a bowl.

Add the sugar to the eggs, beat some more. Add in a third of the flour mixture, half the butter, another third of flour mixture, the other half of the butter, and then the last of the flour mixture. Mix the batter until just combined. Pour into a greased 9-inch cake pan, then put the pears on top. Then top with the chocolate pieces. Then just bake it! It's super easy. 

Mmmm, it's so good and light and fluffy. Please make this and eat it.

Bittersweet Chocolate Pear Cake
From The Pastry Affair
2 medium pears, diced
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 cup flour
3 eggs, room temperature
1 stick butter
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup bittersweet chocolate pieces

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 9-inch cake pan.
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder. In an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs until they are pale and very thick- about 10 minutes.

While the eggs are beating, brown the butter in a medium skillet. Pour the butter into a bowl.

Add the sugar to the eggs and beat for about 2 minutes. Put the mixer on low, then add 1/3 of the flour mixture, then 1/2 the butter, then another third of the flour mixture, then the last half of the butter, then the last of the flour mixture. Mix until just combined.

Pour the batter into the cake pan, then top with the diced pear, then top with the chocolate pieces. Bake for about 35-40 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Chocolate Peanut Butter Gooey Butter Cake

The Husband's birthday was this week! And I don't know if I told you this but he loooooooves peanut butter. Like a lot. So for his birthday desert, all he said he wanted was, "Something with peanut butter." Super helpful, right? I know.

But don't worry, I have tricks up my sleeve. Tricks like Chocolate Peanut Butter Gooey Cake, which I don't even have a picture of because it's all gone already!! The Husband had two pieces in one night!

This recipe is full of win, and it is also SUPER EASY.

Ingredients: Chocolate cake mix, smooth peanut butter, butter, cream cheese, eggs, vanilla, and powdered sugar

First, combine your cake mix, one egg, and melted butter. Then press it into the bottom of a greased 9x13.

For the filling, beat together the cream cheese and peanut butter. Then add the eggs.

Add the vanilla, then the melted butter, and then the powdered sugar. It looks creamy and delicious and makes the whole house smell like peanut butter.

Pour it on top of the cake mixture, then bake it. It's deliccccioussss. Trust me, because I don't have any pictures. 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Gooey Butter Cake
18.5 oz.  box chocolate cake mix
16 tbsp. melted butter
3 eggs
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup smooth peanut butter
1 tsp. vanilla
16 oz. powdered sugar

For the crust:

Preheat the oven to 350°. Combine the cake mix, 1 egg, and 8 tbsp. melted butter. Press the mixture into a greased 9x13.

For the filling:

In a mixer, beat together the cream cheese and peanut butter until creamy. Add 2 eggs and mix until combined. Add 8 tbsp. of melted butter and the vanilla and mix until combined. Add the powdered sugar and mix until combined. Pour the mixture onto the crust and bake the whole thing and bake for 40-50 minutes.

Key Lime Pie

Blecchhh. Ear infections have been sweeping through my classroom and I caught it and so did my co-teacher. Which is a real bummer because I've been wanting to make Key Lime Pie for so long and this week I finally found key limes at the Fresh Market. 

But then Friday I couldn't even taste the pie because of my sinuses. 

But everyone else assured me that it was totally delicious, so I'll have to believe them.

Your ingredients: Key Limes, condensed milk, egg yolks, butter, graham crackers, heavy cream, and powdered sugar

So first, crush up your graham crackers into crumbs and mix them with the melted butter and a pinch of salt. As an experiment I put a dash of cinnamon in it too. I couldn't taste the results, but nobody complained so I'll assume it was a success. Press it into the pie pan and bake it.

Now, beat your egg yolks and lime zest for a little bit, add the condensed milk, and the lime juice. Now let the mixture set for a couple of minutes, pour it onto the crust, and bake it some more.

And voila! You have a pie. It's that easy. For the whipped topping, just whip your cream and the powdered sugar together and dollop it onto the pie.

Key Lime Pie
1 3/4 graham cracker crumbs
6 tbsp. melted butter
dash of salt
dash of cinnamon
1/4 cup light brown sugar
Zest of 1 key lime
4 egg yolks
1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk

Preheat the oven to 350°. For the crust, mix together the dry ingredients and then add the melted butter and mix it together with a fork. Press the mixture into the bottom of a 9-inch pie plate and bake for 8 minutes. Let the crust cool for 30 minutes before pouring the filling onto it.

In a mixer with your whisk attachment, beat the egg yolks and key lime zest for about 2 minutes. Add the condensed milk and whisk together well. Add the lime juice slowly. When it's thoroughly mixed, let the mixture stand for 5 minutes.

Pour the filling onto the crust, then bake for 15 minutes. The filling needs to be set, but still a little jiggly. Cool to room temperature on a wire rack, then refrigerate under foil.

If you want to top it with whipped cream (and I recommend it), then use the following recipe.

1 cup cold heavy cream
2 tbsp. powdered sugar

Whip together the cream and powdered sugar until stiff peaks form. Spoon onto the pie, then top with a little key lime zest.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel Frosting

I'm sorry people. I made an Oreo Cheesecake last week planning to blog it, but it was a disaster. I mean, not taste-wise, but every other-wise.

After a series of unimportant and totally pointless freak-outs during the process of making this cake, The Husband said to me, "You just need to chill out when you bake." Which made me kind of miffed.

But icing a cake is a quiet, tedious process that gives you a lot of time to think. While I was icing this cake, I thought about it and realized that I am a selective control freak. In my dayjob as a preschool teacher, there is not a lot about my day that I can control. Dirty diapers, babies screaming, things spilling, toys getting dumped... So when I come home, I like the things that I can control to be just so.

So I won't be able to chill out when I bake. And that's okay. I'll just try to be less rude to the Husband about it. Even if he DOES turn off the oven and cause my layers to sit in the oven, not cooking, for 30 minutes.

Except, try not to think about dirty diapers while you're icing a cake.

Speaking of this cake, it is SUPER. Continuing my salted caramel binge, I chose this recipe and believe me, I did not choose wrong.

It's a little daunting once you see the ingredient list, but don't be frightened away, it's not hard and it's super delicious.

(Most of)Your Ingredients: Sugar, Flour, Brown Sugar, Sour Cream, Eggs, Cream Cheese, Baking Soda, Buttermilk, Vanilla, and that's right, almost 4 sticks of butter. Not pictured: Coffee and Salted Caramel

Cream together the butter and sugars, add in the eggs, and then the vanilla. It looks like this- sort of goopy and gross. Don't fret. It gets better.

Mix together your cream cheese, sour cream, and coffee in a bowl. In another bowl, sift together the cocoa powder, flour, baking soda, and salt.
Now just mix it all together and get your batter, and bake it into two delicious, gorgeous chocolate layers.

Whip up your frosting, which is a beautiful, light caramel color.

Now just frost your cake, and eat it up! Nom nom nom.

Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel Frosting
12 tbsp. butter, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup light brown sugar
2 extra-large eggs, room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
2 tbsp. good brewed coffee
1 3/4 AP flour
1 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
16 tbsp. butter, room temperature
8 oz. cream cheese
3 cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease two 9 or 10 inch cake pans (doesn't affect anything but the size of the layers).

Cream together the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs in one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add in the the vanilla and mix well.

In a separate bowl, mix together the sour cream, buttermilk, and coffee. In another bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. 

Add the buttermilk mixture and the flour mixture alternately to the butter, starting with the buttermilk and ending with the flour mixture. Mix until just combined.

Pour batter into layer pans and bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let layers cool completely on a wire rack.

For the frosting:

Cream together butter and cream cheese until creamy. Add 2 cups of powdered sugar and mix together. Add in the cup of salted caramel and mix. Add powdered sugar until you have the consistency of frosting that you want. 

Frost your cake and enjoy!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Strawberry Layer Cake

This cake, wow. People, this week was a little nutso. It sort of feels like I say that every week, doesn't it? But I mean it every time. 

This cake started as an opportunity to make the strawberry cake I've always wanted to make from the lovely Joy the Baker for forever, because strawberry cake is my favorite kind of cake.

This week was made all the more stressful because six years ago this week my wonderful and beautiful mother left this earth. It felt strangely appropriate to be baking on that day, and baking a cake that she faithfully procured for me each birthday, knowing that strawberry cake is my favorite.

So I invite you to make this strawberry cake and think about your mother, wherever she is.

Your ingredients: White Cake mix, vegetable oil, eggs, vanilla, self-rising flour, cream cheese, butter, sugar, strawberries, powdered sugar, and strawberry jello mix

In a bowl, whisk together the cake mix, jello powder, sugar, and flour. Don't eat it. It SMELLS SO GOOD, but don't eat it. 

Add the oil, eggs, water, and strawberries, and mix.

Pour into two greased 10-inch cake pans and bake for 25-35 minutes

Now make your icing- sorry, no pictures. Now ice it up however you see fit and decorate with strawberries!

Strawberry Layer Cake
Adapted from Joy the Baker
16.25 oz. white cake mix (with pudding)
3 oz. package strawberry jello mix
1 tbsp. self-rising flour
4 tsp. sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup strawberries, finely diced
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 lbs. powdered sugar
pinch of salt
strawberries for decoration

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease 2 10-inch cake pans.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together cake mix, jello mix, sugar, and flour.

Add in oil, stir. Add in eggs one at a time, mix well between each egg. Add the water and strawberries in and mix well. Divide batter evenly between the two pans and bake for 25-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Allow to cool completely on wire racks.

Beat the cream cheese and butter until soft and fluffy. Add 1 lb. of powdered sugar, salt, and vanilla extract, beat well. Add in the rest of the powdered sugar.

Frost and decorate your cake!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Chocolate Pudding Pie

This pie. Is fantastic. And it is so, so easy.

That's all I'm gonna say about it. Just. Make it. Please. For the sake of your health.

Your ingredients: Chocolate chips, cream, oreos, whole milk, egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch, and vanilla

First, crush up your Oreos, butter, and sugar together and bake a beautiful, delicious piecrust out of it.

In a bowl, whisk together your egg yolks and sugar, then add the cornstarch, vanilla, and salt.

Now melt your milk and chocolate on the stove, try not to drink it all because it smells deliciously like hot chocolate. Then add it to the egg yolks, then back into the pan, then cook it until it thicks up. Then pour it onto the pie crust.

Mm, mm, mmmmmm. Top it with whipped cream and gobble it up!

Chocolate Pudding Pie
Slightly changed from Ezra Poundcake
1 1/4 cup very finely ground Oreo crumbs
5 tbsp. butter, melted
3 tbsp. sugar
Pie Filling:
2 1/2 cups whole milk
5 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
4 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
3 tbsp. cornstarch
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
Whipped Topping:
1 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

For the crust:
Preheat oven to 350°.

Mix together the crushed Oreos, melted butter, and sugar, then press them into the bottom of a 9-inch pie pan. Bake for 5 minutes, then set aside to cool.

For the pie:
In a heavy saucepan, turn on medium-high heat and combine the milk and chocolate chips. Use a whisk occasionally until the chocolate is melted.

In a large, heat-safe bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar. Add in the cornstarch, salt, and vanilla. Pour the melted chocolate mix into the bowl and whisk the mixture together until combined.

Pour the whole mixture back into the saucepan and return to medium-high heat. Cook until the mixture thickens and begins to bubble slowly. Remove it from heat and whisk it until it's smooth, about a minute. Pour the mixture onto the pie crust.

Cover the pie with plastic wrap, make sure you lay the plastic wrap directly on top of the pie. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

For the whip:
With a whisk or an electric mixer with a whisk attachment, beat the sugar, cream, and vanilla until stiff peaks form.

Spoon onto the pie.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Double post today folks! Sorry for the e-laziness. Getting back from Christmas break has been really tough.

The first recipe I have for you is a delicious red velvet cupcake recipe, which I made at the birthday request of my new co-teacher (and pretty awesome friend).

I'm not gonna lie, I'm not usually that into red velvet, but these were really good and pretty easy. And they're so pretty! I threw on some silver sprinkles I had leftover from Christmas baking.

Your ingredients: Cake flour, cocoa powder, sugar, red food coloring, eggs, buttermilk, baking soda, oil, cinnamon, powdered sugar, cream cheese, and vinegar

So first, sift together the flour, salt, and cocoa powder.

Next, beat together the sugar and oil, then the eggs, then the food coloring and vanilla.

Now add in your flour mixture and buttermilk, alternating between each one, starting and ending with the flour. (Sorry about the photo quality, getting photos in the mixer is always iffy with lighting) Doesn't it look red and delicious?

Now mix together the baking soda and vinegar in a small bowl. It will fizz and make you feel like you're doing a really cool science experiment. Then add it to the batter and mix it in.

Then just bake those suckers!

Mmm, then frost them, preferably to the soundtrack of Wicked.

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Slightly adapted from Sweet Pea's Kitchen
2 1/2 cups cake flour
2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 tsp. red gel-paste food coloring (or 1 tbsp. regular food coloring)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. distilled white vinegar
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350°. Line muffin pans with cupcake liners.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, salt. In a mixer, beat together the sugar and oil on medium-high until combined. Add the eggs one at a time, mix well between each egg. Add in food coloring and vanilla.

With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in three additions, mixing well between each addition. Alternate with adding the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour.

In a small bowl, mix together the baking soda and vinegar, which will fizz. Add it to the batter, mixing on medium-high for about 10 seconds.

Evenly distribute the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about 3/4 of the way full. Bake for about 20 minutes. Cool on wire racks.

For the frosting, beat the cream cheese and powdered sugar in an electric mixer until smooth. Add the cinnamon and vanilla until combined.

Frost the cupcakes and enjoy!