Pumpkin Spice Scones

pumpkin, autumn, fall, baking, copy cat, starbucks, scones, icing, pumpkin spice, PSLThis year autumn is flying by way too fast and I am a firm believer in waiting until after Thanksgiving to start celebrating (and decorating for) Christmas. The Pilgrims and Pumpkins will still have their day! So I am making sure that I still give pumpkins and apples their day in the sun.

To that end, I spent this afternoon working on some pumpkin spice scones. I followed a Starbucks copy cat recipe that I found online. It seemed easy enough and I already had several of the ingredients. I just swapped out the ground clove (I didn’t have it) for allspice. It still has the same warmth and depth so I figured it would be ok.

Simply put these scones are amazing. They are soft and tender and fluffy and, if I’m being honest here, they are better than the Starbucks version. And another plus? Our little home smells so good right now. I wish you could be here to experience it. It’s so cozy and filled with that distinctive autumn spice. I’d make you a cup a of tea and we would sit together on my couch cuddled in blankets eating these yummy scones and watching HGTV. Doesn’t that sound awesome? I think so, too. ūüôā

For this recipe, just click through to Cooking Classy’s blog¬†and have at it. I don’t know Jaclyn, but her blog is filled with amazing recipes. You’ll love it!

Happy Fall!!
The Blushing Baker

Pumpkin Pie Dip

pumpkin, dip, cookies, pumpkin spice, potluck, dish to pass

It’s finally October! I love this month. The chilly breezes and warm sun. The leaves turn gorgeous shades of red, orange, and yellow. I get to pull out my Halloween decorations and scarves. Yes this time of year is my absolute favorite!

This time of year also brings about Mission & Heritage Week at work which is always during the week leading up to the Feast of St. Francis (I work for a Catholic non-profit). During this week we always¬†hold a potluck lunch and every year I struggle to find something different, delicious, interesting, and easy to bring.¬†I usually do some sort of baked good but have also gone¬†savory with a one-dish-wonder (i.e. casserole) like Shepherd’s Pie. But this year, I just didn’t have the time to invest in an intricate dessert or a even a crockpot casserole. So I thought, what about an easy pumpkin type dessert? It’s fall after all (yay!) and as has been the case the last couple of years, fall is¬†all about pumpkin spice everything (#PSL). I didn’t want to make pumpkin¬†pie or bread or cupcakes – too much work. So I Googled for a pumpkin dip. Who knew that there were so many out there! I finally landed one that was easy, with simple ingredients and sounded¬†super delicious.

It’s base is cream cheese – as are most dips – and it took me all of 7 minutes to whip up. You also get to dip gingersnap cookies in it. I love an excuse to buy gingersnaps in the box because they remind me of my Grandma Schultz. Yet another reason I just love fall. This dip is¬†basically like pumpkin cheesecake with a gingersnap crust. And it only takes 7 minutes to make. Love it!

If you have a potluck or fall gathering to go to, you need to bring this along. It’s easy and can be made a few days in advance if you need to (it’s even better that way). It also transports really well. Don’t like gingersnaps? Not a problem. It would be delicious with graham crackers, pear or apple slices, or vanilla wafer cookies. This dish is yet another way to enjoy all thing pumpkin spice. Enjoy!!

Happy fall everyone!
The Blushing Baker

Pumpkin Pie Dip

from Taste of Home

2 cups of powdered sugar
1 8oz. package of cream cheese (at room temperature)
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup 100% pure pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp ginger
1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)

In a large bowl whip together powdered sugar and cream cheese until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and whip together until fully combined and smooth. Serve with gingersnap cookies (also good with fresh apples and pears). Refrigerate any leftovers. Can also be refrigerated overnight prior to serving to let flavors develop. Makes 4 cups.

Lemon-Lime Poke Cake

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Did you guys have church potlucks when you were growing up? Or do you have them now? I think you might remember that I grew up in very small town and once a month our church would have potluck lunch. Everyone would bring a dish to pass and we would all gather in the Church Hall after Sunday School invited by the smell of fried chicken and casseroles warming in the oven. As a kid this was the best, because you got to sit with your friends, and could try a little bit of everything and you got go back for seconds (on dessert, too!)

It’s no surprise that the dessert table was my favorite to peruse. All of the cookies, bars, cakes, puddings, and brownies were so beautifully arranged and prepared with loving hands. It was a sight to behold. But my favorite cake was one made by a woman named Nancy. A white cake swirled with ribbons of pink and topping it all off: heaps of Cool Whip. It was always chilled and melted in your mouth and I couldn’t help but get a second slice! At the time I didn’t know it had a technical name (to me it was simply “delicious wonderment”), but later in life I would learn it’s true name: Poke Cake.

I bring this up now¬†because I was recently at a church event and there was ::gasp:: poke cake! The same exact kind: white cake, pink ribbons, Cool Whip. I was so excited! I hadn’t had it in years! And there it was, so pretty and delicious and cold and moist and…now my mouth is watering. I had two pieces. I don’t regret it. I’m not even remotely embarrassed.

After reliving a moment in my childhood, I decided I would recreate this memory in my own home (and for you, my readers). But I wanted to add some pizzazz to it! It’s still the same old Poke Cake (simple and delicious) but with some jazzed up flavors for summer.

I happened to have a lemon cake mix (yes, this a cake mix recipe and don’t try to change it! It won’t be as good!) and some lime jello so I put them to good use. You just need to follow the directions on the box to make the cake. (I did a two layer version – but it works so much better in a 9×13 cake pan.) Once the cake is out of the oven and cooled slightly, you poke it with a fork (hence the “poke” in the title) but not all the way to the bottom, just about half way through. Then you pour the jello mixture over the cake concentrating on the holes you just poked. After every last drop of the jello has been poured onto/into the cake, you have to refrigerate this bad-boy for about three hours (oh the waiting!!!). When it’s all set up you top it with Cool Whip (ya, know the stuff in the tub). But had a better idea…instead of Cool Whip, I wanted to make real whipped cream (nothing quite like it) and spike it with zest and…wait for it…marshmallow fluff (insert applause here). Yep. I totally went there.

Now, I could write for days about how good this cake is (trust me, I could) but that would only make you jealous,so I won’t. I’ll just go on for few sentences. The cake is unbelievably moist and sweet and tart all at the same time. A real otherworldly taste. But the whipped cream topping is what really brought everything together. As I said before, there is just nothing quite like real whipped cream that you’ve whipped up yourself. And when you spike it with complimentary flavors (extracts, zests, liqueur), it makes ANY¬†dessert a¬†glorious, kick-yourself-in-the-face, call-momma-and-tell-her-you-love-her, kinda moment of greatness. Yes. It’s truly that good. I am not exaggerating at all, friends.

The thing to remember about this cake is that it best (yes, its very best) when eaten cold. If you’re going to make it and bring it to a picnic, potluck, family gathering, make it the day before and let it sit overnight in the fridge. It’s incredibly refreshing and so yummy for adults and kids alike. You won’t regret it. But you will regret only making one…so make two. One for the picnic and for you.

And don’t be afraid to mix up the flavors! I can think of so many flavor combinations I’d like to try next: Dreamsicle (white cake with orange jello and marshmallow whipped cream), Italian Cherry-Bomb¬†(yellow¬†cake with cherry¬†jello and almond whipped cream), Tropical Delight¬†(banana cake with pineapple jello and coconut whipped cream, with perhaps some Malibu Rum in the jello and toasted coconut on top?). I mean, come on people! I’m dying!! I need to end this post now and just go try these new flavor combos.

Let me know how your Poke Cake turns out¬†and what flavor adventure you choose! I’m dying to hear the results!

Until next time,
The Blushing Baker ūüėČ

Lemon-Lime Poke Cake

cake, baking, lemon-lime, homemade, delicious, whipped cream, amazing1 box of moist type cake mix (any flavor) – prepared as instructed
1 3 oz box of jello (any flavor)
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup cold water
8 oz heavy whipping cream
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp lime zest
2 tbsp powdered sugar
1/2 cup of marshmallow fluff (1/2 of a jar)
1 cup of fresh, sliced strawberries (optional, but delicious and pretty!)

Follow instructions for the baking the cake mix that you choose, preparing in the method for a 9×13 pan. Once cake is baked, cool for 10-15 minutes.

While cake is cooling, prepare the jello mixture by dissolving package of jello in 1 cup of boiling water. Once fully dissolved, stir in 1/2 cup of cold water. Set aside briefly Рdo not refrigerate as the jello must remain in liquid form.

Poke the top of the cake at 1/2 inch intervals with a fork only penetrating about half way through the cake. Pour jello mixture over the top of the cake, concentrating on the poked holes. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

In the meantime, Add 8 oz of cold heavy whipping cream and powdered sugar to a chilled bowl. Whip on medium with an electric hand mixer until firm peaks form. Add the zest of the lemon and lime and marshmallow fluff to the whipped cream and fold in until well combined. Chill until cake has set.

Frost fully chilled cake with the whipped cream topping and top with strawberries. Enjoy immediately or chill overnight. Keep leftovers (if there are any) refrigerated.

Mixed Berry Lemon Muffins

muffins, mixed berry, delicious

If I say blueberry muffins what is the first thing you think of? Is it the fluffy texture? The crispy edges of the muffin top? For me…it’s the aroma. While they’re baking. While they are cooling. As I pull them apart while they’e still warm and the sweet, fruity steam hits my nose and my mouth starts to water. Yes, for me it’s the aroma. I try not to make muffins too often because when I do, they don’t last long around the house. But I really wanted to try out a new muffin recipe, so I caved. I made muffins.

I read a recipe online recently for a sour cream based muffin and I was intrigued. I simply adore sour cream pound cakes (see my previous post Orange Pound Cake 2 Ways) and if that one ingredient can make pound cake moist, tender, and scrumptious I was willing to give it a try in muffin batter.

As I began the base, I realized I didn’t have any frozen blueberries!!! Aarrrghh! But I did have frozen mixed berries – blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries. (I like using frozen berries in muffins or pound cake because the fruit stays in tact while baking and the cake will end up more moist in the end.) I also had some Meyer lemons on hand. So I threw the zest and juice in as well.

The biggest problem I’ve had in the past is that the batter gets overworked and the muffins end up tough. No one like a tough muffin. A tough cookie, maybe. But not a tough muffin. So here’s your tip of the day – DO NOT OVER WORK YOUR MUFFIN BATTER. You will be tempted to work the wet and dry ingredients until they are fully incorporated, but DON’T!! This will over work the gluten in the flour and that is what causes your muffins to be tough and dry. Mix the wet into the dry until it is barely mixed together and fill your muffin tins with the batter. Just move on my OCD friends. Move on. You will thank me for it.

muffins, yummy, home baked, baked goodsThese muffins are tart and sweet and fragrant and will make your mouth water while they bake and fill your home with a fresh baked aroma. I am glad that I tried this recipe and I will gladly use this muffin base again in the future. Sour cream is certainly making it’s way into my baking life in a big way!

Until the next time…
The Blushing Baker ūüėČ

Mixed Berry Lemon Muffins

homemade, baking, muffins, pastries
(recipe adapted from http://www.food.com/recipe/muffins-base-142502)

Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1‚ĀĄ4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 eggs, room temp
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1‚ĀĄ2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
Zest and juice of 1 Meyer Lemon
1 1/4 cups mixed berries (I used a mix of blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries)

Directions
Preheat oven to¬†350¬įF and prepare muffin tins with non-stick spray, butter, or muffin tin liners, set aside.

Sift together flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon, into bowl and whisk together until well blended. Add berries and lemon zest and toss to coat; set aside.

In separate bowl whisk eggs until very creamy and add the sugars in several additions whisking until thick. Add melted butter and whisk into eggs and sugar. Add sour cream and lemon juice and whisk vigorously until well combined.

Gently fold the flour and berry mixture into the wet ingredients until just incorporated. You will see some small spots of flour, but do not over mix batter.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes on the middle oven rack until light golden brown and toothpick test comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes in muffin tin and then remove to cool on wire rack.

Makes 12 regular sized muffins.

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies

peanut butter chip chocolate valentines day cookies homemade delicous

Love is in the air! It’s almost Valentine’s Day! Speaking of love…who doesn’t love warm, delicious chocolate chip cookies? Now add some cocoa powder to the dough and toss in¬†some peanut butter and white chocolate chips. Get me to the church, because I just might need to marry these cookies.

yummy cookie, cookie monster, homemade, from scratch, cookies

Not that you really need convincing, but this cookie will rock your world. Dark, chocolatey base filled with semi-sweet, white chocolate, and peanut butter chips. Each little cookie is¬†sweet and rich and salty and will make you wonder why you haven’t made them before. Like I said, it will rock your little cookie world.

You need to make these for the loved ones in your life (or someone you’d like to call a loved one! ūüėČ ) They will be eternally grateful!!

Until next time…
The Blushing Baker

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies

1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
3/4 cup peanut butter chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

In a medium bowl sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together butter, sugar and vanilla until pale yellow. Add in eggs one at a time. Add sifted dry ingredients a little at a time with the mixer on low until combined. Don’t over mix! Add in all of the chips and mix until combined.

Drop dough onto an ungreased baking sheet using¬†a 1.5 oz scoop (if you don’t have a scoop, just measure about 1 1/2 tsp).

Bake for 9 minutes and then remove cookies to a wire cooling rack until completely cooled (or just cooled enough to bite into them without burning the roof of your mouth and then washed down with a cold glass of milk).

Hot Cocoa Monkey Bread

baking, yummy, treat, dessert, family, potluck, simple dessert,

My oh my. It’s been far too long since I’ve posted anything. Because¬†I’m not big on excuses I don’t plan to offer any. I will however given an explanation. Work at the office has been stressful and so very demanding that by the time I get home I just want to laze on the couch and watch Netflix (sidebar: I’m so enthralled with Parks & Rec right now I can’t even stand it! I’m blazing through it and don’t want it to end…ever.) I think that is contributing to my lack of creativity on the home/baking/beauty/blog front. So, not an excuse; just an explanation ūüôā

Now, on to the good stuff…

A couple of months ago, I was scrolling through recipes on foodnetwork.com and found one that sang the siren song to my soul. Monkey bread. For real? For real. I remember getting so excited as a kid when someone would bring it to a church potluck or classroom party at school. The sticky-caramel-sweetness that held all of the bread together. And…BONUS!! You got to eat it with your fingers!! SCORE!! [insert fist pump here] Now, I probably shouldn’t tell you that I did a happy dance (think Elaine from Seinfeld) when I saw several variations on monkey bread on the Food Network website, but I did and it was glorious. So many to choose from, but I only had time to try one. And the one that won (see what I did there?) was Hot Cocoa Monkey Bread. Put hot cocoa in my hand and I’m a happy girl. Put monkey bread in front of me and I’m a happy girl. Put them into one recipe?¬†Pure. Joy.

This recipe couldn’t be easier to make, because monkey bread in and of itself is easy to make. Cut up pieces of canned biscuits (normally a no-no in my book) dipped in butter and then rolled in cinnamon and sugar. Easy peasy! So Hot Cocoa Monkey bread is just as simple. Instead of cinnamon and sugar it’s packets of hot cocoa mix and sugar coating the butter, soaked biscuit pieces. And for good measure? Throw some chocolate chips and mini-marshmallows on top of each layer. Is your head spinning? It’s ok. Mine was, too. Just be sure when baking this to use a deep 10″ round Bunt pan. I used the only¬†10″ pan and it overflowed a bit.

hot chocolate, hot cocoa, monkey bread, baking, baker, recipe

Look closely at the melty, chocolate chips and the gooey hunks of bread. Are you drooling yet?

I was so eager to get my fingers on a chunk of this heavenly treat, that I didn’t care that I was melting¬†my fingerprints off of my index finger and thumb grabbing a chunk right after it came out of the oven. It was delicious and sweet and sticky. Oh my! The hot cocoa mix gives this treat the perfect combo of chocolate and cream and¬†the melted marshmallows lend a wonderful, subtle sweetness and depth of flavor to the saltiness of the biscuits. This dessert would be a great treat to bring to your neighborhood Christmas party, a class party at your kiddos’ school, a holiday potluck at work, or even just for you and your family while watching a Christmas movie. Your kids can help you make it, too!! Super simple and absolutely delicious!

 

Hot Cocoa Monkey Bread

Ingredients
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
Two 16-ounce tubes refrigerated biscuit dough, such as Pillsbury Grands
Four .7-ounce envelopes instant hot cocoa mix
1 cup sugar
1 cup mini marshmallows
1 cup chocolate chips

Directions
Special equipment: a 10-inch nonstick Bundt pan

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Put the butter in a medium bowl. Brush the Bundt pan with some of the butter to lightly coat.

Cut the biscuits into quarters. Combine the hot cocoa mix and sugar in a large bowl and stir together.

Working in batches, toss one-third of the biscuits in the melted butter, roll them in the hot cocoa mixture to lightly coat and add them to the Bundt pan so they are nestled together in an even layer; sprinkle with one-third of the marshmallows and chocolate chips. Repeat to make 2 more layers of biscuits rolled in cocoa, the marshmallows and chocolate chips. Sprinkle the top with any leftover hot cocoa mixture and drizzle with any leftover butter.

Cover the pan with foil and bake for 35 minutes. Remove the foil and bake until puffed and golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes more. Loosen the bread from the sides of the pan with a knife or offset spatula. Carefully invert the pan onto a serving plate, remove the pan and serve hot.

Recipe copied from FoodNetwork.com

Ooey, Gooey Turtle Brownies

brownies, turtle brownies, chocolate, caramel, pecansLately my blogs have been sporadicly ¬†posted. Three one week…nothing for two weeks. I get home from the office and all I want to do is veg out and laze around all night. Could it be that the stresses of my office are bleeding into my personal life? Probably. And that is not good. But, whatever it is, it’s happening. But I want to try and get back to writing about the things that I love. So I’ll just get on with it…

Brownies.

I made brownies. Really yummy turtle brownies with homemade caramel sauce. Oh yes. I did that.

A friend said that she was really craving some brownies with caramel in them. So I told her, “I’ve got this. You’ll have brownies on Monday.” Thing is? I’ve never made homemade turtle brownies, just the kind you get in the box with the caramel sauce packet included. So I was on a mission to figure out how to do this on my own.

As I’ve mentioned to before, I love Ree Drummond (The Pioneer Woman) and I recently saw a back episode on the Food Network where she was making Easy Caramel Sauce. This was the solution! I don’t have a candy thermometer yet ::face palm:: and am a newb when it comes to carmel and candies. Just like the title suggests, it really is easy. If you can whisk, you can make this caramel sauce.

For the brownie I wanted something ooey and gooey, so the best fudge brownie recipe in my arsenal is what I used. It’s from one of our family cook books and is simply called, “Fudge Brownies”. The brownies come out perfect every single time. Use this recipe and you won’t be disappointed. They are so very scrumptious!

homemade, baking, chocolate, browniesThe consistency of this brownie is so outrageously gooey that they should probably be illegal. But I’m glad they aren’t. The salty, sweetness of the caramel adds a delicious contrast to the super dark and almost bitter-sweet brownie. Add some toasted pecans to that and the crunch sends these little wonders off the charts. It’s a miracle we all survived while eating them!

Until Next Time…
The Blushing Baker ūüėČ

 

Turtle Brownies

Easy Caramel Sauce
(http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2014/01/easy-caramel-sauce/)

1 cup Brown Sugar
1/2 stick Butter (4 Tablespoons)
1/2 cup Half-and-half Or Cream (cream Will Make It Thicker)
1 Tablespoon Vanilla
Pinch Of Salt

Fudge Brownies
By: Stephanie Harmon – First Lutheran Church of Iowa Cookbook

1 cup butter
4 1 oz. squares of unsweetened chocolate melted with the butter
1 1/2 cups of sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup of flour
1/2 cup toasted, chopped pecans

DIRECTIONS

Mix all caramel ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium-low to medium heat. Cook while whisking gently for 5 to 7 minutes, until thicker. Turn off heat. If sauce is thin, just continue cooking for a few more minutes. Let cool (I put mine in the fridge for a bit).

Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees

Combine sugar and eggs in a large bowl with an electric mixer. Add melted chocolate/butter mixture and vanilla; mix well. Add flour until just combined. Fold in pecans. Pour batter into a lightly greased 8×8 baking pan. (TIP: Line your pan with¬†foil and then grease the foil so that you can lift the brownies out of the pan when they were done. They are so much easier to cut!)

Pour three rows of cooled caramel sauce over the uncooked brownie batter. Using a wooden skewer (or butter knife), swirl the caramel into the brownies just a little bit.

Bake the brownies for 30-35 minutes (they shouldn’t be “soupy”, but just set. Your toothpick will NOT come out clean). When done, place pan of brownies on a wire rack to cool.

Best served slightly warm with a nice, cold glass of milk ūüôā

Facebook Brownies

brownies chocolate cake icing facebook recipe homemade cooking baking
Recently, while perusing my Facebook feed, I stumbled across a picture of utterly delicious chocolatiness (in my world¬†“chocolatiness” is a word, if you haven’t gathered that by now). The post simply stated the¬†ingredients along with a really yummy looking¬†picture. I knew I needed to¬†“share” it so that I could access the ingredient list¬†later…and bake them into the wonderful chocolate delight I knew they¬†would be! The picture above is from the Facebook post – I can’t take credit for that photo!

The post only listed¬†the ingredients to make and frost this treat (no directions) along with the phrase “50 YEAR OLD LUNCH LADY RECIPE!” (Was she a 50 year old woman who happened to be a lunch lady? Or was the recipe itself 50 years old and written or obtained by a lunch lady? The jury is still out on that one.)

Once combined, the ingredients make a hybrid of a cake and brownie. A Cownie? A Cawnie? A Brake? A Broke? Anyway you say it, it was truly delicious! The texture was denser than a chocolate cake, but not quite as fudgy as a brownie. I added some instant coffee to the batter too so it ended up with a mocha flavor and that was a really nice twist.

The icing did not come out that glossy as it was pictured. Perhaps, if I ice the cake/brownie hybrid before¬†it cools, it would come out with the same glossy, crinkly texture as the picture. My grandmother is probably rolling in grave at the very mention of not allowing a cake to fully cool before icing¬†it. Sorry, Grandma!! If you decide to try this one out, please comment and let me know how yours came out. I’d love to know!

Until next time…

The Blushing Baker ūüėČ

Facebook Brownies

1 cup butter
1/2 cup cocoa
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
4 tsp vanilla
1 cup  chopped nuts (I used pecans that I toasted up in pan for a few minutes)

Icing
1/4 cup softened butter
1/4 cup canned milk (regular milk is fine)
1/4 cup cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
Dash of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs (one at a time) and vanilla until combined. Combine flour and cocoa powder in separate bowl. Add a little of the dry mixture to butter and eggs until everything comes together. Fold in nuts until just mixed.

Pour into a 9×13 pan and bake 20-25 minutes. Check after at 20 minutes.

For the icing, using a hand-mixer, cream together, butter, milk, cocoa powder, powdered sugar and a dash of salt.

Once cake is completely cool, spread on the chocolate icing in an even layer.

Two Layer Chocolate Cake. Enough Said.

birthday cake chocolate beattys homemade delicious

When I say birthday what image comes to mind? Some of you may think of presents. Others will think of balloons or parties. But I think most of us will agree that we think of cake. Oh yes. A birthday cake. Candles a top buttercream icing and moist, delicious cake. You’ve got the image, right? Me, too. I am actually trying to figure out how many days until my birthday so I can have my cake and eat it too. It was just this past weekend that my very good friend Amy had a birthday. I wanted to do something special for her and I happen to know that she really loves chocolate cake so that’s what she was gonna get…a chocolate birthday cake!!

I searched online for a recipe that was tried and true. One that not only got good reviews, but multiple good reviews. I landed on Beatty’s Chocolate Cake courtesy of my very favorite, Ina Garten. This recipe uses brewed coffee in the batter and coffee powder in the buttercream. To quote Ina, “How good is that?!” It also uses buttermilk (you already know my feelings toward buttermilk in baked goods – almost always a great idea) so this cake would not be dry at all. That is something I tend to fear with chocolate cake – a dry crumb. It should not be dry or tough, but moist and tender. Some other recipes I’ve tried in the past have been far too dry because the ratio of dry to wet ingredients was slightly skewed due having to use¬†cocoa powder and flour. You will not have to worry with this one. It was divine.

The cake was not the only divine aspect of this recipe, though. The buttercream icing was also heaven sent. It was light, smooth, creamy and so glossy! It uses an egg yolk along with the butter, confectioner’s sugar, vanilla and melted chocolate. I have not used this particular method for icing before and was a little nervous about how it would taste. My fretting was in vain, as it tasted as wonderful as it looked.

birthday cake chocolate homemade bakingOne note about this recipe though, is that it only makes enough icing to frost a two layer cake. If you plan to pipe, like I did, you will need make more. I unfortunately didn’t have time and decided to try something else (a bottle of store bought cookie icing ::face palm::) and instead of saying “Happy Birthday” it said something like “Hasdldy Bdduflky”. The letters all puddled¬†together and I felt so silly. I kept apologizing for how ugly the cake was! The layers weren’t even and friend birthday cake chocolatethe icing could have been smoother…(Note to self: purchase a cake plate and stand as well as an¬†offset spatula and begin practicing icing and piping skills immediately) But Amy said liked how it looked and¬†that¬†it tasted so good she didn’t even notice that the layers weren’t perfectly even. My heart swelled with joy and that was enough for me, my friends.

Until Next Time…
The Blushing Baker ūüėČ

Beatty’s Chocolate Cake

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/beattys-chocolate-cake-recipe.html

Ingredients:
Butter, for greasing the pans
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
2 cups sugar
3/4 cups good cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk, shaken
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
Chocolate Buttercream (recipe follows)

Chocolate Frosting:
6 ounces good semisweet chocolate (recommended: Callebaut)
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 extra-large egg yolk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon instant coffee powder

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 8-inch x 2-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans.

Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.

Place 1 layer, flat side up, on a flat plate or cake pedestal. With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting. Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake.

Chocolate Frosting:
Chop the chocolate and place it in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir until just melted and set aside until cooled to room temperature.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until light yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and continue beating for 3 minutes. Turn the mixer to low, gradually add the confectioners’ sugar, then beat at medium speed, scraping down the bowl as necessary, until smooth and creamy. Dissolve the coffee powder in 2 teaspoons of the hottest tap water. On low speed, add the chocolate and coffee to the butter mixture and mix until blended. Don’t whip! Spread immediately on the cooled cake.

Orange Pound Cake 2 Ways

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At the end of June it was my Mother-in-Law’s birthday. I wanted to bake her something special so I decided to be sneaky and put a little poll out on my Facebook page asking for everyone’s favorite cake flavor. She responded to the post and said that her favorite flavor was orange so I went out looking for the perfect orange cake recipe. The one I came up with was a tried and true recipe from one of my favorite cooks, Ina Garten.

Her orange pound cake uses buttermilk (known for making baked treats tender and moist) so I had to try it. The recipe makes two loaves of pound cake so I decided to do something different with the second half of the batter and pulled out my dark chocolate stash. Let the fun begin!

First of all, let me just say that the batter for this cake was gorgeous. (Can cake batter be gorgeous? Yes, I think it can.) It was so fluffy and light and smooth. It was¬†perfectly pale yellow in color with flecks of orange zest. Oh help me. I’m drooling just recalling it. And it smelled so fresh and full of citrus. I knew it was going to make the most delicious cake of all time. After filling the first pan with the batter I gently folded 3/4¬†cup¬†of dark chocolate mini-morsels into the remaining batter and filled the second pan with chocolate studded gorgeousness.

orange pound cake, chocolate orange pound cake, baking, cakes, homemadeWhen you pull them out of the oven they have to sit in the pan for about 10 minutes and then, once you put them on the cooling rack, you spoon orange simple syrup over the cakes. This imparts even more orange flavor and makes the cake melt in your mouth. I can see using this simple syrup in a lot of other recipes, too. (Citrus sangria, anyone?!)

Orange Pound Cake, Baking, Sweet TreatsThe pièce de résistance is the orange glaze that goes over the top of the completely cooled cake. It. Is. So. Good. This pound cake is to die for.

For the chocolate orange pound cake I melted down 1/2 cup of milk and 1/2 cup of dark chocolate with a little butter (for glossiness) and piped it through a bag over the top of the cake and then added the orange glaze. Yeah. It was the bomb. Chocolate and orange go together like peanut butter and jelly. Like nuts and honey. Like maple and bacon. Like, well…you get the idea.

Follow the recipe below for the most delicious¬†orange pound cake and feel free to add in some chocolate (as outlined above) if you want a super decadent treat. I know that you’ll love them both¬†as much as I did.

Until next time…
The Blushing Baker ūüėČ

PS: My Mother-in-Law loved the cake!

Orange Pound Cake

(Recipe used and adapted from: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/orange-pound-cake-recipe.html)

Ingredients
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided
4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup grated orange zest (6 oranges)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice, divided
3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
To glaze one loaf (optional):
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice

Directions

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2-inch loaf pans. Line the bottoms with parchment paper.

Cream the butter and 2 cups of the granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. With the mixer on medium speed, beat in the eggs, one at a time, and the orange zest.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl, combine 1/4 cup of the orange juice, the buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour. Divide the batter evenly between the pans, smooth the tops, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a cake tester comes out clean.

While the cakes bake, cook the remaining 1/2 cup of granulated sugar with the remaining 1/2 cup orange juice in a small saucepan over low heat until the sugar dissolves. When the cakes are done, let them cool for 10 minutes. Take them out of the pans and place them on a baking rack set over a tray. Spoon the orange syrup over the cakes and allow the cakes to cool completely.

To glaze, combine the confectioners’ sugar and orange juice in a bowl, mixing with a wire whisk until smooth. Add a few more drops of juice, if necessary, to make it pour easily. Pour over the top of one cake and allow the glaze to dry. Wrap well, and store in the refrigerator.