Category Archives: Sweet Tooth

A Quickie – Christmas Treats Edition

Every year it gets a bit easier to get my Christmas treats and gifts ready. By October, my list of what I want to make is done and by November it’s pared way down or changed entirely. Since I’ve got vacation time to burn this month, I’ve gotten a little ambitious in my Christmas treat-ing and settled on a bunch of different recipes than I usually do every year. Today I made two batches of cookie dough for the freezer (they’ll just need baked and packed then shipped on one of my upcoming days off), a batch of coffee caramel fudge for gifting, my ever-present Chex Mix that I basically survive on from mid November until January, and since I am still completely and thoroughly obsessed with hot chocolates, I made these hot chocolate truffles to pack with a small box of treats I’ll be giving each of my co-workers at our Christmas party. The boxes will also have pan de polvo in them, which I haven’t made since my wedding almost 9 (!) years ago. I find these truffles a bit easier to do up than the usual powdered cocoa mix. If you’re in need of a quick gift, this fits that bill perfectly.

Hot Chocolate Truffles
recipe from Your Cup of Cake

You Need:
2 3/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup heavy cream
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
peppermint candy canes, crushed very finely, mini marshmallows

Heat all the ingredients (except the candy canes and marshmallows) in a pot over low heat and stir together until everything is melted. Scrape the chocolate into a bowl and pop it in the fridge until it cools and can be scooped. It took me a couple of hours at least to get to that point. Scoop two tablespoons worth of the chocolate mixture onto a parchment lined baking sheet (or whatever will fit into your freezer) and freeze for about 30 minutes to an hour. Roll the scoops into balls and roll in the crushed candy canes or the marshmallows. Keep them refrigerated. To use them, heat up  about 1 1/2 cups milk and stir a truffle into the cup until it melts. Enjoy!

DSCN2598   DSCN2599

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Some days…

Most days are normal, mundane sort of days. And some days are not. Case in point: last Sunday night I went to bed early (I was completely wiped out and I’m not sure why, I just knew I couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore so I went to sleep). And I was sleeping good too, that hard, dead to the world sleep that means you’re going to wake up completely rested. That kind of sleep is rare for me. I was awoken later that evening by Erik, shaking me, standing over me with a gun. I got up (cautiously, in case I had to fight him – he was holding a gun after all, and I have no compunction about taking him down. I’m bigger than him. I can totally take him.). He handed me a long stick and said “There’s a skunk in the trash can. You need to knock over the trash can with this and when he comes out I can shoot him.” My sleep addled brain didn’t question, didn’t say well why don’t you knock it over and let him skunk his skunk ass on out of here? I’m pretty sure he won’t stick around. Instead I just knocked the trash can over with the stick. I could hear its scrabbling little skunky feet running full speed. Erik’s gun goes off and wakes me up completely and immediately. I thought “It’s going to spray! Gotta get out of here!” I flung open the door and started to go inside. Cracker immediately pops out of the open door and goes running full tilt towards Erik, the gun and the skunk. I start yelling at the little bastard. I don’t know what about my yelling made Cracker finally stop and say to himself, “this bitch is serious. I better stop and go back inside.” But he stopped and let me grab him to haul him back in. By then Erik is also yelling because my yelling made him miss the damn skunk.  In the melee, the disgusting thing sprays and my house becomes filled with the most foul odor I have ever smelled. Words cannot describe how utterly disgusting this odor is. So Erik gets the bright idea to start a fire to try and help get rid of the smell. Except he does what he does every year when he starts a fire for the first time. He forgets to open the thingy in the fireplace that lets the smoke out. Smoke, lots of it, immediately fills the house. The smoke alarms start going off. All of them. This freaks Cracker out and he’s shaking and trying to climb all over me for comfort. Erik’s trying to get rid of the smoke without opening any windows. I’m thoroughly and utterly pissed off and just sitting on our bed trying to not breathe in smoke or smell any skunkiness. It’s not working. I don’t know how he managed to get the smoke to dissipate without opening windows but he did. And we spent the rest of the evening not sleeping very well, mostly because Cracker, still kind of afraid, kept climbing all over us in bed. (He has, for the record, done this for an entire week).The whole situation was the kind of thing that makes you question your life choices. How the hell did I get to this place right now where I just knocked over a trash can so my husband could shoot a skunk and now my house smells like smoke AND skunk? What the hell kind of karma is working on me right now? He has set traps for them all week (this is another new thing for me too: living in a family who just happen to have skunk traps available at all times.) He catches it, one day before work and the cats made it spray (again) by messing with it in its cage. I spent all day at work smelling like a skunk. On Saturday, he caught another one. It stunk too. My nose is ready to quit this bitch, honestly. Erik still has traps set, by the way. He won’t stop until he catches ALL THE SKUNKS IN THE WORLD.

So here’s this recipe that has nothing to do with the preceding story, but I thought I should tell you about it anyway because my life is incredibly weird sometimes and maybe that’s why I don’t think twice about giving myself treats.

Praline Cake Squares 
recipe from She Wears Many Hats

You Need:

For the cake:
1 cup buttermilk
1 stick butter
2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cocoa powder

For the icing:
1 stick butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
6 Tablespoons evaporated milk
1 cup chopped pecans

Heat the oven to 350. Butter and flour a 9×13 pan. Set aside. Place the stick of butter in a pan with the cup of buttermilk. Heat (on low) just until the butter melts. Scrape this mixture into a mixing bowl (I used my stand mixer). Add in the 2 cups brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Beat together until everything is incorporated. Mix together the flour, baking soda, and cocoa powder. Add this to the wet ingredients and mix together. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until the cake is cooked through. While the cake is baking, mix together the icing ingredients: cream the butter and brown sugar together, then stir in the evaporated milk. It will look lumpy and weird; that’s fine. Pour the icing onto the baked cake. Sprinkle the top evenly with pecans. Bake this about 5 minutes, until the icing is bubbly and the pecans are lightly browned (watch this carefully so you don’t burn your nuts). Let the whole thing cool slightly, then cut into squares.

it’s pretty amazing served warm straight from the pan 

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summer fruit

This is the time of year when cherries start coming in from Utah. Despite what the rain, the 20 degree mornings and frost tell me, I know it’s got to be spring-almost-summer somewhere just by the appearance of cherries. I’ll admit the first thing I think of when I see them is (of course) PIE, but I’ve also got visions of cherry jam, hand pies, and just plain pitted cherries on my cornflakes or waffles tantalizing me as well. For father’s day I grilled cheeseburgers for Erik’s dad, mom and grandpa and decided to take the easy route for dessert. The result is this simple, buttery, crispy, sunshiny little cherry crumble. It’s everything a near end of June should be even if Wyoming weather doesn’t agree.

Cherry Almond Crumble
recipe from Honey & Jam

You Need:

3/4 cup of flour
1/2 cup regular oats (not the quick cooking kind)
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup sliced almonds
1/2 teaspoon salt (I use kosher)
1 stick of butter, melted (I let mine brown, of course)

about 4 cups cherries, pitted and sliced in half (recipe says 1 1/2 pounds – my scale reached that around 4 cups)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon cornstarch

Heat the oven to 350. Generously butter an 8×8 square baking pan. Set aside. Mix the flour, oats, 1/2 cup brown sugar, almonds, salt and melted butter together until crumbly. Mix together the cherries, 1/3 cup brown sugar, vanilla and cornstarch together until everything is well coated. Spoon the cherry mixture into the baking pan. Sprinkle the crumble on top. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the filling is bubbly and the crust is deep golden brown. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

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a quickie

Cake. Caaaaaaaake. Caaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaake. That is all.

Chocolate Cinnamon Bundt Cake with Mocha Icing
recipe from The Nesting Project

You need:

1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder (I always just use instant coffee)
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup vegetable or canola oil
1 Tablespoon vanilla
2 eggs

For the icing:
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder (or instant coffee)
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 stick butter (1/4 cup or 4 Tablespoons)

Heat the oven to 350. Grease a bundt pan (12 to 15 cup size). I use my Pam baking spray because I am lazy. Set aside. In a bowl, whisk together the boiling water, cocoa powder, and 2 teaspoons of the instant espresso or coffee. Set aside. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. In your electric mixer, beat together the 2 cups brown sugar, the oil, and the vanilla. Add the eggs and beat all together. Beat in half the flour mixture, then add in all of the cocoa mixture. Add in the rest of the flour mixture and beat until everything is incorporated. Scrape the batter into the bundt pan and bake until a tester comes out clean. My cake sunk in the middle, so if yours does too, don’t panic. That just happens sometimes. It’s still tasty. Plus once you flip it over onto a serving dish, you can’t even tell. For the icing, combine the brown sugar, 2 teaspoons of instant espresso/coffee and 2 Tablespoons of water. Simmer those on low heat until the sugar melts. Off heat, stir in the butter and the chocolate chips and stir everything together until the butter and chips melt. Once you’ve inverted your cake onto a serving plate, Drizzle the icing over the top.

My mother in law made us little bunnies out of washcloths for Easter. Is that not the cutest thing ever?

baking music: The Decemberists, Castaways and Cutouts

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the proverbial cake loving fat kid

That is me. I love cake. It’s the best part about birthdays, in my opinion. Erik tried to tell me he didn’t want cake for his birthday but I threw a fit because dammit, what good is a birthday without cake? I tried out two new recipes for Erik and his sister’s cakes this year and they turned out really well. The scraps tasted delicious, at least. We didn’t get to cut into them because we all got milkshakes from the burger drive in for our celebration dinner. We were all on an extreme sugar high. (But I fully plan on having cake for dessert for the rest of the week.)  Both cakes gave me a good excuse to use up ingredients I needed to use up and to do my favorite thing ever which is browning butter. All in all, great birthday cake success.

Mexican Chocolate Sour Cream Cake
Recipe from Amanda’s Cookin’

You Need:
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
one disc and two triangles of Mexican chocolate (I used Ibarra brand)
1 cup sour cream
3/4 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 350, grease and flour (or spray with baking spray) two standard size round cake pans. Chop your chocolate. In a double boiler (I just used a small metal bowl set over a pan), heat the Mexican chocolate over simmering water until it melts. It’s going to be grainy and thick, not all smooth and melty like regular chocolate. So if it looks weird, don’t freak. It’s fine. Mix together your dry ingredients in a bowl. Set aside. Cream the butter and brown sugar together. Add an egg, beat it well. Add the other egg and the vanilla, continue beating. Mix in your cooled chocolate and mix well. Alternately add the dry ingredients with the milk and sour cream. I mixed the milk and sour cream together in their own bowl to make this easier. Beat the batter until everything is incorporated. Divide the batter between the two pans. I always set my cake pans on top of rimmed baking sheets in case of spillover. Sometimes I’m not so good at judging how much batter to put into the pans to avoid spillage. Anyway, bake the cakes until a tester comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes. Turn the cakes out onto a cooling rack and let them cool completely before frosting. There is a recipe for icing along with this cake, but I truly did not enjoy it. It was too, too sweet, and you couldn’t add less than the amount of powdered sugar called for because then the icing was too thin and not suitable for using. I’d skip it and just use your favorite buttercream, which is what I ended up doing. For Erik’s cake, I colored and rolled out some fondant (Satin Ice brand – not Wilton. Wilton’s fondant tastes like puke to me) and made it in the shape of a bottlecap from his favorite beer. It’s not the greatest looking thing ever, but you can tell what it is, he got a kick out of it, and that’s all that matters.


 

 

 

 

 

 

The cake is less of a chocolate cake and more of a really warm, spice cake. I think a good cinnamon buttercream would be good with it. I just used a standard frosting recipe because all I needed was to fill and crumb coat it.

Brown Sugar Brown Butter Cake
recipe from Hot Polka Dot

You Need:
1 stick butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup whole milk

In a small, light colored pan, cook the butter, swirling occasionally, until it foams up and turns golden brown. DON’T BURN THE BUTTER. You can’t step away from the stove while browning butter. Brown butter = good and tasty. Black butter = evil. Scrape it into a bowl and let it cool and harden up a bit in the fridge – not solid, just enough to resemble soft butter. Preheat the oven to 375. Butter and grease one standard size round cake pan. I only got two layers out of mine because I used a much smaller Wilton cake pan – we didn’t need two full size birthday cakes. Would have been cake overload, man. Cream your browned butter and sugar together. Add in the eggs and vanilla, beat well. In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Alternately add the dry stuff to the egg-butter mixture with the milk. Beat just enough to fully incorporate everything. Scrape the batter into the pan. Bake until a tester comes out clean, like 25-30 minutes. Let cool completely before frosting.

Laci’s cake was inspired by the weather. I looked outside at the dark skies, heavy clouds, snow, and thought I want a freaking spring cake. So spring it was. Everything on the cake is buttercream except for the flowers, which were stamped out of fondant with cutters. The flower centers are silver dragees, because Chevelle (my niece) loves “the BBs.”

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a quickie

Just in case you do want to bake something for Valentine’s Day and aren’t sure what. These are cute as heck and taste like peanut butter and jam sandwiches.

Peanut Butter and Jam Thumbprints
recipe from Martha Stewart Living, February 2011 issue

You Need:
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick softened butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup peanut butter
1 egg
raspberry or strawberry jam, stirred up (I used strawberry)

Stir the flour, salt, and baking powder together in a bowl. Set aside. In your stand mixer, cream the butter and sugars together until fluffy. Mix in the egg and peanut butter. Stir in the flour mixture. Heat the oven to 350. If the cookie dough is too sticky for form into balls, refrigerate it for a few minutes. Roll the dough into 1 1/2 inch balls. Press into 1 to 2 inch rounds. Space them on parchment lined sheets, 1 to 2 inches apart. Press a heart shape indentation into the middle of the cookies. Refrigerate for 20 minutes. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and re-indent the heart shape into the cookies. Fill the indentations with jam, forming a heart. Bake until the cookies are totally firmed up, 6 minutes or so more.

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Sunday Treats

I freaked my dogs out with my audible love and adoration of the bundt cake I made for our lunch desserts this week. Like they both came running into the kitchen with concerned “what the effing eff is going on in here” looks on their faces. I’m putting this cake right up there with the sex cookies. It’s just so… I can’t even … there are no words for how delicious this is. So I think everybody needs to get into the kitchen, make this cake, then come back and agree with me on how utterly amazing it is.

Texas Pecan Cake with Butter Pecan Glaze
recipe from Like Mother Like Daughters

You Need:
1 cup butter, softened (yes, I know. It’s an indulgent treat)
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups roasted butternut squash, pureed
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup toasted pecans, chopped
GLAZE:
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup pecans, rough chopped
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup plus 1 Tablespoon cream

Preheat the oven to 350. Butter and flour a bundt pan, or spray it with Baker’s Joy (I love my Baker’s Joy). In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. In the bowl of your stand mixer, cream the softened butter until super creamy. Add in the sugar and cream the mixture until fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time until well mixed. Add in the vanilla and squash puree. Add in the flour, a little at a time, mixing well. Stir in the pecans. Place your bundt pan on a baking sheet. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for about an hour, until a tester comes out clean. Let it cool for a few minutes in the pan, then turn out onto a platter or cake stand. I used one with a bottom that is not flat – the glaze might run right off a plate or whatever that’s not lipped in some way.

To make the glaze, melt the butter in a pan. Stir in the pecans and cook for a few minutes. Add in the brown sugar and the cream. Let it come to a boil and let it cook for a few minutes, stirring constantly. Take it off heat and let it thicken up a bit. Mine didn’t get super thick. Drizzle the glaze over the cake. Try not to eat it all at once.

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a quickie

because Amanda requested it.

Bread Pudding
recipe from Allrecipes.com

You Need:
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups milk
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice, or make up your own mix (I used 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon cloves, 3/4 teaspoon nutmeg)
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 or 5 cups cubed, stale white or french bread (I used the leftovers from a loaf of bread I baked last weekend. And make sure the bread is really, truly stale. Fresh-ish bread doesn’t soak up all the custardy goodness as well. And I say “or 5” because I felt like I had enough custard in the bowl still to add another cup of bread and not have dry pudding. You play around with it and see what you come up with.)
1 cup raisins, optional

Custard Sauce*
2 egg yolks
6 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
* the amounts reflected for the custard sauce are halved from the original recipe. I feel that the original amounts make a ton of sauce and these measurements I’ve made are the perfect amount of sauce for the bread pudding. If you want to make the entire batch of sauce as written, please visit the link above.

In a bowl, combine the sugar, eggs, milk, spices, and vanilla. Mix together well. Add in the bread cubes (and raisins if you’re using them) and stir everything around to coat it. Preheat the oven to 350 and while it’s preheating, let the bread sit and soak up all the sauce. Grease or spray a 9×9 inch baking dish; spoon the bread mixture into the pan. Bake for about 50 minutes to an hour, until a knife inserted comes out (mostly) clean and the top is golden brown.

To make the custard sauce, in a double boiler (or a makeshift one – I use a metal bowl over a standard pot), combine the egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch. Slowly whisk in the milk and whisk the mixture til well combined. Cook this mixture over boiling water until it thickens and coats a spoon. Off heat, stir in the vanilla. Serve the bread pudding with the sauce, either warm or cold, whatever you prefer. It’s delicious either temperature.

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take two

So once upon a time, I bungled up this cake which disappointed me sorely since I really, really, really liked eating it at Rebecca Rather’s place in Fredricksburg. Today, using the brand new bundt pan Erik got me for Christmas, I made it again and holy super chocolatey cake success, Batman!

the crumb is super moist, and I used the dark cocoa powder for the glaze. If you’re on a New Year’s health kick right now, I don’t recommend making it unless you’re feeling like splurging. Me, I don’t care about calorie counting right now so I’m going to eat cinnamony chocolate cake, man. The recipe is located in the link above if you want to give it a try.

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last minute christmas treats, pt II

I don’t know how I know so many people to give treats to. Truth be told, my subconscious probably invented the idea of making a list of every person I could possibly give a Christmas treat plate or box to just so I won’t eat every recipe I’ve been testing. That’s a good idea – my body has good ideas, sometimes.

I froze the rest of my leftover cranberry sauce around Thanksgiving time fretting over how to use it up. It’s not exactly ice cream weather, so ice cream topping was out, I made all the cranberry butter I could stand, and then ran out of ideas totally. I ran across this recipe in Sunset magazine and thought it was utterly brilliant. It’s got cinnamon and allspice and that meshes well with the cranberry sauce (the same spices are essentially in the sauce). Plus thumbprints are always good. Always.

Cranberry Thumbprints
recipe from Sunset magazine

You Need:
2/3 cup cranberry sauce
2 sticks butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon allspice
pinch of salt
3/4 cup pecans (optional)

Heat the oven to 350. In a food processor, whiz the cranberry sauce until smooth. Beat the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Stir in the vanilla. Stir in the flour, cinnamon, allspice and salt. Mix on low until blended. If you’re using the pecans, stir them in. Form the dough into 1 to 1 1/2 inch balls and place them 1 inch apart on a greased (or lined with parchment) baking sheet. Use your thumb and press a small well into the dough. Dollop some cranberry sauce (how much varied for me according to how big the cookie I’d made was). I didn’t use all of the cranberry sauce, by the way. Bake until light golden brown. Let cool.

And then there are these and they are awesome and I don’t know that much of this is going to actually make it into any of my treat boxes. I might just eat it all and not feel a bit bad about it.

Almond Roca
recipe from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

You Need:
2 sticks butter
1 cup sugar
2 three-ounce package of slivered almonds, toasted
2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
1 three ounce package of sliced almonds

Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Butter it.

In a heavy bottomed pot, melt the butter and the sugar together on medium-low. Stir it occasionally and let it just do it’s thing until the sugar is melted. Once it has melted, turn the heat up and let it boil gently. Clip on a candy thermometer and stir gently while the mixture comes up to 300 degrees (hard crack stage). The mixture will turn darker in stages – light golden yellow first, then darker brown. Watch it carefully though because you do not want this mixture to burn. Once it has hit 300 degrees, remove it from the stove and stir in the toasted slivered almonds. Spread it out quickly onto the greased baking sheet because it hardens up pretty fast. Sprinkle the chocolate chips on top and tent the whole thing with foil. Let it sit for a few minutes. The chips should look all soft and glossy. Use an offset spatula to smooth the melted chocolate chips out in an even layer. Sprinkle all this with the sliced almonds. Let it sit out or in a fridge until it has set. Break apart in pieces.

There is some troubleshooting advice on the link above – at one stage of the candy making process, some of the butter separated and formed a layer on top of my candy. The site suggest blotting it off with paper towels. That’s what I did and just moved on.

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