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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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.

Peanut Butter Hug Cookies

We are so lucky that friends whom I have known since birth (our parents actually met in birthing classes) recently relocated nearby. Yesterday I hosted a little gathering of our families chock full of laughs, lots of reminiscing, and (of course) food.

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to serve so I decided to consult the internet for some whimsical inspiration.¬†Usually I¬†just ¬†scroll through my favorite food sites and blogs.¬† This time, however,¬†I took a different approach. I asked the internet if there were any “holidays” on Saturday. (Lately it seems like there is a holiday for every food group.¬†Perhaps I would strike gold with¬†Italian Sub Day,¬†Eggplant Parmesan¬†Day, or¬†maybe Hot Fudge Brownie¬†Sunday Day!)¬† But Saturday was not a food holiday. It was better. It was National Hugging Day! January 21 was chosen as National Hugging Day because it is midway between¬†Christmas and Valentine’s Day when people are at an emotional low. Individuals are awarded each year with the title Most Huggable!

What perfect inspiration for a gathering with people you love! I immediately decided on a meal that would feel like a big warm hug: Pulled pork on fresh rolls piled high with cole slaw, macaroni and cheese, baked beans, and corn bread.

The dessert choice was obvious: Hug cookies! This is a classic Hershey’s recipe. They were little tasty bites of peanut butter and chocolate love. I found the recipe here on my new favorite site Food.com. These are perfect Valentine’s Day cookies, as well.

Some of the hugs melted slightly and lost their "kiss" shape

 Peanut Butter Hug Cookies:

  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup¬†brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4-5 tablespoons additional sugar
  • 48 Hershey’s Hugs (or Kisses)

Preheat oven to 375 F.

In mixer, beat shortening and peanut butter until well blended; Blend in sugars and beat until light and fluffy. Add egg, milk and vanilla; Beat well. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt; gradually mix in peanut butter mixture.¬†Roll dough into 1-inch balls and roll in additional sugar. Place on cookie sheet lined with Silpat or parchment paper and bake 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned. Immediately place a Hershey’s Hug (or Kiss) on each cookie and press down slightly.

Adapted from Hershey’s Kiss Peanut Butter Cookies on Food.com.

 

Sunflower and Ladybug Cupcakes

We had a little birthday celebration for our precious girl! The theme was a “ladybug picnic.” I made these chocolate cupcakes. I used my go-to chocolate cupcake recipe and a Wilton icing recipe. While Wilton icing is not really my favorite flavor-wise, I believe¬†there is a time and place for it.¬†When you need something that will hold up for an extended period of time, it usually does the trick. That said, the weather was humid and warm and these still melted a bit (as you might be able to tell from the photo).¬† I can’t even imagine what would have happened if I used a butter-based recipe! I bought the cute¬†little sugar ladybugs from Oriental Trading¬†and they worked out just perfectly. I was happy with how these turned out and they looked very sweet along with all of the other treats!

(Here is a little preview of the cake!)

Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting

In addition to the red velvet cupcakes, I also made these chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting for the party.

I¬†used this batter recipe.¬† (It is a perfect chocolate cake recipe, as well.)¬† The cupcakes are moist, rich, and a bit sticky on top. Know ahead of time that the batter is very thin, so don’t worry that you’ve done something wrong.

For the frosting I used this recipe:

  • ¬Ĺ cup unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup Hershey‚Äôs cocoa powder
  • 3 cups confectioners‚Äô sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk (room tempertature)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract¬†

To make the frosting, melt the butter in a medium bowl.  Stir in the cocoa.  Alternately add confectioners’ sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency.  Add small amount additional milk, if needed.  Stir in vanilla.

Fancy Rice Krispie Treats

I wanted to make a Mother’s Day dessert that would really satisfy¬†that unrefined¬†sweet tooth that I¬†sometimes find yelling for attention. (I know you all have one too…Yodels, anyone? How¬†about a stack of IHOP pancakes with a whipped cream smiley face and blueberry syrup?¬†No? Would you prefer¬†a bag of gummy peach rings?¬† Swedish fish? How about some blue cotton candy? I digress…) I briefly considered ignoring that tooth and making a truly fancy dessert that does not require the word fancy in front of it (creme brule, flan, chocolate tart) however, the tooth won. ¬†I decided to go for a basic and dress it up a bit!

There is something so primitively satisfying about thick, chewy Rice Krispie Treats.  And they are simple to make.  It turns out dressing them up is easy too!

Tips to delicious Rice Krispie Treats (fancy or not):

  • lots of butter (not enough butter = dry treats)
  • lots of marshmallows (not enough marshmallow = dry treats)
  • parchment paper (without parchment paper you might go crazy trying to press treats into pan. More treats will be stuck to your hands, spoon, and face than make it into the dish!)

Fancy Rice Krispie Treats:

  • 2 – 10.5 ounce bags mini marshmallows
  • 5.5¬†cups Rice Krispies cereal
  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • 1¬† – 4 ounce semi-sweet Ghirardelli chocolate bar
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter baking chips
  • 10 Oreo cookies crumbled into a bowl
  • rainbow sprinkles in a bowl

Make the Treats

Place a large piece of parchment paper on top of a 9 x 13 baking dish. Set aside.

Melt butter and marshmallows in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir until evenly combined. Remove from heat.

Spray a wooden spoon with cooking spray. Use the wooden spoon to stir Rice Krispies into marshmallow/butter mixture.  Be certain all of the cereal is coated by the marshmallow mixture.

Use wooden spoon to turn cereal/marshmallow onto parchment paper in dish.

Cut another piece of parchment paper and place on top of the cereal/marshmallow mixture. Use the top piece of parchment to press the mixture evenly into the dish. Allow to cool completely before cutting.

Once cool, measure 3.25 inch increments across the top of the pan and score treats with a pastry knife. Across the side of the pan, measure 3 inch increments and score with a pastry knife. Press pastry knife into treats to cut along the lines you scored. Use pastry knife to trim off uneven edges.

Dip the Treats

Fill a saucepan with two inches of water and bring to a low boil. Create a double boiler by placing a heat safe glass bowl on top of the saucepan. Snap pieces of chocolate bar into the glass bowl.  As it melts, use a wooden spoon to swirl chocolate together.

Dip one treat at a time into the melted chocolate and then into either the sprinkles or the Oreo cookie crumbs.

Once you have used half of the chocolate, return the double boiler to the heat and add the peanut butter chips. Swirl with a spoon until melted with the chocolate.

Dip the remaining treats into the peanut butter/chocolate mixture and then into either the sprinkles or the Oreo cookie crumbs.

Place each treat on a cooling rack and let sit until chocolate and peanut butter are completely dry. Enjoy!

Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Filling

I am crazy about these chocolate cake and chocolate frosting recipes!¬† As you can see I have used¬†them here and here and here.¬† The cake is so rich and moist!¬† The frosting is fluffy and sweet, but not too sweet.¬† These recipes have been very good to me.¬† (I originally found them on Annie’s Eats. Thanks Annie!)

Well this past week my parents celebrated their 35th wedding anniversary! (Isn’t that fantastic?) We¬†made¬†dinner for them and of course I was in charge of the cake.¬† I was set on using this chocolate on chocolate combination, but I really wanted to add a new spin with an elegant flair.¬† I decided to use raspberry filling!¬† I used Wilton’s recipe and I am so happy with how it turned out!

The raspberry and chocolate combination was really fantastic!

Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Filling:

For the cake:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 ¬ĺ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¬ĺ cup Hershey‚Äôs cocoa powder
  • 1 ¬Ĺ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 ¬Ĺ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1¬†teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ¬Ĺ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water

For the Filling:

  • 1 16 ounce package¬†frozen raspberries, thawed
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • For the Frosting:

  • ¬Ĺ cup unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup Hershey‚Äôs cocoa powder
  • 3 cups confectioners‚Äô sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract¬†
  • Garnish:

    • chocolate chips (optional)
    • fresh raspberries (optional)

    Bake the cake:

    Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Grease and flour two 8 or 9-inch round baking pans.

    Stir together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.  Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.  Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin).  Pour batter into prepared pans.

    Bake 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks.  Cool completely.

    Make the frosting:

    Melt the butter in a medium bowl.  Stir in the cocoa.  Alternately add confectioners’ sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency.  Add small amount additional milk, if needed.  Stir in vanilla.

    Make the raspberry filling:

    Drain raspberries, reserving liquid. Add enough water to liquid to equal 1 1/4 cups. In large saucepan, combine liquid, sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice; mix well. Heat and stir until mixture boils and thickens. Cool completely. Stir thawed raspberries into cooled mixture.

    Assemble the cake:

    Level off both cakes using a serrated knife. Place bottom cake on a cardboard cake circle.  Pipe a ring of the chocolate frosting around the outside edge of the cake.  Fill the area inside the ring of frosting with a thick layer of the raspberry filling.  Place the second cake layer on top. Frost the sides of the cake layers with chocolate frosting.  Pipe a decorative border of the chocolate frosting on top of the cake.  Fill the area inside this border with a thick layer of the raspberry filling.  Garnish with chocolate chips, fresh raspberries, and/or additional frosting if desired.