Chocolate Heart Cake with Ganache

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Happy Valentine’s Day, friends! It sure is a cold one here in the Northeast! All the better for snuggling, I suppose. ūüôā

Today I bring you a heart-shaped chocolate cake topped with thick fudgy ganache and raspberries. Pinterest takes all the credit here. This cake is created by pouring batter into one 8 inch square pan  and one 8 inch round pan then baking and slicing the round cake in half. See below.

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I used this oldie but goodie chocolate cake recipe which originates from Annie’s Eats. I then slathered on thick fudgy ganache (made using this recipe). Top with raspberries (little kid fingers are especially helpful here) and enjoy!

Wishing you lots of love and chocolate on this cold Valentine’s Day!

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Cake Catch Up

Here are two cakes I made that I never posted. (I blocked out the names on the cakes, per usual.)

Cowgirl Boot Birthday Cake

First is a boot birthday cake for a cowgirl birthday party.  Our little cowgirl was thrilled with it! My inspiration was the cake found here on Larson Lingo blog.

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Strawberry First Birthday Cake

And here is a cake for a strawberry themed¬†first birthday party.¬†¬† I love the pink, green, and red color combo. The frosting was made with fresh berries–pretty and delicious!

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Banana Cake for My Little Monkey

First order of business is this: I’ve decided I am no longer waiting until I have a decent picture to post to the blog. I am going to snap a photo of whatever meal/dessert I have made and document it. Too many great recipes have gone undocumented and too many weeks have past between posts because the photos are blah. In an ideal world I would be able to spend more time learning the ins and outs of my camera as well as make/buy a light box and stage the meals perfectly. Until then I will commit to posting whatever I have.

Now back to regularly (hopefully more regularly!) scheduled programming. ūüėČ

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Wow. Here we are again. Another year has passed since my daughter was born. Her second birthday was a couple of weeks ago.  I barely remember life without her, yet I feel like I just had her.  All of those cliches are cliches for a reason. Time flies.

She has¬†shiny blond curls that I would have never predicted. She is particular about which shoes and clothes she wears and whether she would like a barrette or “two ponies” in her hair. Certain words/phrases make her laugh into a tizzy, like “coconut” and “sour feet.” (Don’t ask!) When she is overtired she giggles so hard she nearly chokes.¬† She loves playing with her baby dolls and she changes their diapers, puts lotion on their tushies, feeds them little bottles of milk and water then¬†wraps them in blankets tenderly before tucking them into the tiny doll crib. She also loves playing with play dough (or “tay-doe” as she calls it, even though she can say the word “play” clear as day.)

She recently learned to put her own shoes on and she likes to ask, “Right foot mama?” Because sometimes she puts them on opposite feet. (And seems even more comfortable that way! ha!)

She loves books–especially Olivia, Take Me Out to the Ball Game, Boo Boo, Tikki Tikki Tembo, The Cat in the¬†Hat, The Tooth Book,¬†and Max and Ruby. She has most of them memorized! My heart becomes a puddle on the floor when I peek into her room and see her flipping through books and “reading” them out loud.

More than anything she loves playing with her cousins and friends. The pure joy in her deep brown expressive eyes, full lips, pudgy cheeks and teeny teeth explodes my heart on demand. She bursts with little girl excitement when they are together. Watching them play (splashing in the kiddie pool, holding their hands at the playground, jumping on the bed  in fits of giggles and screeches) is like a drug for me. She brings infinite amounts of joy into my life and I love her more than I ever knew possible.

Her actual birthday was on a weeknight so I planned to make this banana cake. But then I realized I was out of butter so long story short we had this cake the night after her birthday. It is moist and delicious when paired with rich chocolate frosting. It is an Art Smith recipe. I rediscovered his book Back to the Table and I have found so many fabulous recipes in it.

(Her birthday party cake was adorable turned catastrophe after a bumpy car ride. More on that in another post.)

She loved the cake! Success! Happy Birthday Sweetheart!

Banana Chocolate Chip Cake:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups mashed, well-ripened bananas
  • 2 1/2 cups self-rising flour
  • 2 cups mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • One recipe of your favorite chocolate frosting

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Butter and flour two 9-inch round pans.

Beat the sugar and butter together in a large bowl. Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Reduce to low speed and beat in the bananas. Gradually beat in the dry ingredients, beating until just combined. Mix in the chocolate chips using a wooden spoon. Spread evenly into pans.

Bake until a wooden tooth pick inserted into the center comes out clean. (Check at 25 minutes.)

Cool in pans for 15 minutes then remove from pans and cool on wire racks completely. Frost with chocolate frosting.

Recipe adapted from recipe found in Back to the Table by Art Smith.

Apple Cake with Caramel Sauce

It’s that time of year! (And believe it or not, I’m not referring to pumpkins. Not yet, at least!)¬†I have APPLES on the brain!¬† Boy am I loving these crisp cool mornings.¬†I’ve officially made the switch to hot coffee, which is a big step given the iced coffee addict that I am.

I always welcome the¬†transition to fall with open arms. The season seems¬† briefer and briefer each year, which is all the more reason so savor it. The pressure of filling the long days of summer is behind us and we can retreat to the house for warm dinners, red wine, and pumpkin beer. And the season is all the sweeter now that I have a little pumpkin’s birthday¬†to celebrate each fall!

I attended a Rosh Hashanah dinner party this weekend and I was asked to make a dessert containing apples. It’s my understanding that apples (and honey) signify the sweetness of the New Year. (If anyone would like to elaborate on this in the comments, please do.)

I always enjoy being tasked with a specific request! I contemplated an apple tart but ultimately decided on this apple cake because it gave me a reason to purchase a Bundt pan. I can’t believe I didn’t already own one! It’s green,¬†of course!

This cake turned out great! While it worked well as a dessert, it would also be appropriate to serve with tea and coffee as a coffee cake. I decided to take a short cut using the caramel candies instead of making caramel sauce from scratch because it was so. much. easier. While making the sauce from sugar might have been fun, it would have required me to find my candy thermometer and would have taken much longer. This “fake” method tasted fantastic and I am not sure it would be worth my time to make it from scratch. (Feel free to convince me otherwise!)

I poured the sauce into a squeeze bottle and drizzled it over the cake until it dribbled down each corner and crevice. Mmmmm. Apples + CaramelРa duo that is in the rankings of Peanut butter + Chocolate, Tuna Salad + Potato Chips, and Crusty Bread + Cheese in my book.

Apple Cake with Caramel Sauce:

  • non-stick cooking spray
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon ground
  • cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/3 cups vegetable oil
  • 4 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    Caramel Sauce (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 12-cup Bundt pan with cooking spray; set
aside.
Sift together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine vegetable oil, sugar, vanilla and eggs; mix on high speed until combined.

With mixer on medium speed, gradually add dry ingredients until just incorporated.

Using a wooden spoon fold apples into batter and mix to combine.

Pour batter into prepared pan, and bake until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out with
a few moist crumbs attached, about 60-65 minutes. Note: Ovens vary drastically so this cake could take as long as 70 minutes. Begin checking it at 55 minutes. My oven is hot and this cake took about 60 minutes.

Remove from oven, and cool on a wire rack. Invert cake onto rack; turn cake right-side up to cool completely on rack, and drizzle with caramel sauce.

Easy Caramel Sauce:

  • 1 bag of caramel candies
  • 1/2 cup of cream or milk

Place unwrapped caramel square candies into a microwave safe bowl. Add cream or milk. Microwave on high for one minute at a time stirring after each minute until melted.

Recipe adapted from Butter + Cream blog, originally from Martha Stewart.com.

Cake with Fresh Lemon Curd Filling

My dad is a really wonderful guy. He is gregarious, helpful, and fun-loving.¬†¬†He enjoys cold beer, shrimp cocktail, and hot dogs.¬†He is easy to please and maybe that’s why I love making¬†his birthday cake¬†each year!¬† (Check out the¬†Root Beer Iced Vanilla Cake¬†I made in¬†2008¬†and the Boston Cream Pie I made in 2009.)

In addition to Boston Cream Pie, his other favorite dessert is Lemon Meringue Pie. For his birthday this year I wanted to make cake (not pie) so I translated his love for lemon into a cake filled with fresh lemon curd!

A trick I learned at Flour Bakery (while I was a recipe-testing intern) is called the “dam.” Whenever ¬†you fill a cake with something other than frosting (in this case lemon curd) you should pipe a circle of frosting (a “dam”) around the edge of the cake¬†so that the filling does not ooze out. Check it out:

You pipe the “dam” first, and then spoon the lemon curd within its border. You then place the¬†second¬†cake layer on top and you are ready to frost!

Cake with Fresh Lemon Curd Filling:

(I prepared the lemon curd the evening before I assembled the cake.)

Lemon Curd:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 water
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 4 large egg yolks

Over medium heat, in a non-reactive saucepan, combine the butter, sugar, water, lemon juice, lemon rind, cream of tartar, and egg yolks. Stir briefly using a wooden spoon then whisk continuously for several (approximately 8) minutes until thickened. Strain through a fine sieve. Cover with a piece of plastic wrap touching the curd. Refrigerate until firm.

Cake:

I used this brown sugar cake recipe.

Frosting:

I used (of course) cream cheese frosting to complement the lemon curd filling.

Happy Birthday Dad!!!

 

More Soft and Poofy Sugar Cookies with Frosting

My sister-in-law made a special request for Annie’s Eats Soft Frosted Sugar Cookies and I obliged without hesitation. She loved them so much when I made them the first time!

These cookies are¬†a dessert that both kids and adults seem to really enjoy. I love how theycan be as bright and colorful as you’d like to make them as opposed to plain old chocolate chip or oatmeal cookies.¬†I¬†like savoring one along side a cup of tea or a glass of milk.

Making them is easy. The dough can be made ahead of time so that you can simply bake them off when you need them. The frosting can be whipped together quickly.

Find the recipe here.

I hope you are enjoying an extra day off this weekend!

 

Coconut Cupcakes with Easter Eggs and Chicks

I made these really cute coconut cupcakes for Easter! I was very happy with how they looked on the table and very sad when I took a bite and realized I over baked them a bit. I will pay very close attention next time!

I made a simple white frosting (butter + confectioners’ sugar +vanilla + almond extract) then tinted it pale green. I piled it onto the cupcakes using an offset spatula then sprinkled each cupcake with green coconut. (To make colored coconut just add coconut and a few drops of food coloring to a zip loc bag and shake, shake, shake!) The little “eggs” are speckled peanut butter M&Ms and worked really well on top of the green coconut. The chicks are (of course) Peeps!

Voila! Cute Easter cupcakes that will add flare to your holiday dessert table!

While we are on the subject of cute Easter cupcakes, check out these little flower pot cupcakes my sister-in-law baked. Aren’t they precious?!

Adorable Flowerpot Cupcakes with Lollipops made by my sister-in-law

Coconut Cupcakes:

  • 3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 5 extra-large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure almond extract
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 7¬†ounces sweetened, shredded coconut (for IN the batter) + 7 ounces sweetened, shredded coconut¬† (for on TOP of the cupcakes)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In 3 parts, alternately add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk to the batter, beginning and ending with the dry. Mix until just combined. Fold in 7 ounces of coconut.

Line a muffin pan with paper liners. Fill each liner to the top with batter. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until the tops are brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove to a baking rack and cool completely.

Recipe by Ina Garten/Barefoot Contessa found here on foodnetwork.com.