Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Cake That Didn't Last

I made this oh-so-good, aromatic, dense, tender, sweet, but not too sweet, pretty petal cake for Rach's March Baking Challenge. Ingrid, I can not stress enough how good this cake is. Seriously. And it doesn't contain any chocolate, that's a bonus for you! But the cappuccino chips could easily be subbed with chocolate chips.

I wanted to make something that related to St. Patrick's Day, but I didn't want it to be so cliche. Not that there's anything wrong with green frosted, leprechaun topped cupcakes because they're fun, it's just not my baking style. I like to focus on flavors rather than decoration. So I turned to my favorite flavors, coffee, cake, and Irish cream. Who am I kidding? Irish Cream is so cliche. Whatev.

Back to the cake. It was consumed in one afternoon. I'm not even kidding. I only baked one layer cake for this because I assumed it would just be the two of us, but then my mom, brother, and cousin came over. We all had a slice. Some of us, two. I was sad when it was all gone. Make this, but don't share. Keep it your little secret :-)

Bailey's Cappuccino Chip Cake
loosely adapted from Baking Bites
For the Cake:
  • 2/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 cup Bailey's Irish Cream
  • 1/8 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup Guittard Cappuccino Chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 8-inch pan with non-stick spray and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg, followed by vanilla extract. Mix in half of the flour mixture, followed by the Irish cream and milk. Then mix the cappuccino chips into the remaining flour mixture and mix til well blended. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake for approximately 24 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack until completely cool. Turn out cooled cake onto a platter and pour glaze over cake.

For the Glaze:

  • 2 Tbsp. butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. Bailey's Irish Cream
  • 1 tsp. milk or half-n-half, or more if needed
  • 1/4 cup Guittard Cappuccino Chips (optional)

Add all the ingredients in a small bowl except the cappuccino chips and mix until smooth and pourable. Add more milk a half teaspoon at a time if needed. Top the cake with Cappuccino chips before the glaze sets up.

The inspiration and full recipe for Bailey's Mint Chocolate Chip Cupcakes can be found here.

I can't wait to see what the theme for April is! You should join too!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Time Away and a Glimpse

I have a couple posts lined up to be published this week, but I may not be commenting on your blog this week as much as I would like, but there are more important things.

Mr. H's grandmother passed away on Sunday, rather unexpectedly, and we'll be heading out of town mid week for the funeral. I was supposed to meet up with a blogging buddy this weekend who is travelling clear across the states but I may not be able to, depending on when the funeral is scheduled. As of right now, not much is known about scheduling.

I have a post scheduled for tomorrow (Tuesday) for Rach's March Challenge and another savory dish later in the week. Enjoy!

I'll be back Sunday night for sure to catch up on all I missed.

Here's a glimpse of what's to come...

Saturday, March 28, 2009


It's after 2 am and I just finished baking 16 dozen cookies. That's 192 cookies!**

Shoot me now.






**My MIL is out of town and she made a double batch of chocolate chip pecan cookie dough. She's had them in the fridge for over a week now and they were drying out, so she sent them home with me to bake them because she didn't have the time (or energy) to bake them herself. I had no idea how freaking long this would take me. I.AM.EXHAUSTED! I haven't made this many cookies since Christmas!

Have a good weekend everyone!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Mouthful Cookies

Dawn of Vanilla Sugar recently made Coconut Cream Cheese Cookies and it got me thinking about a cookie recipe in Martha Stewart's Cookie Book that I flagged a while back. She asked me for the recipe and when I went to get the book out to email her the recipe, I started drooling all over again. Martha's recipe is titled White Chocolate Chunk Cookies, but they're so much more than that. I'll have to think of a new title for them...

I just happened to have 2 sticks of butter sitting out on the counter and I scoured the pantry to make sure I had everything else and I did! Well everything except for golden raisins, but I decided to use dried cranberries instead. And since my husband prefers pecans over walnuts, I used those too.

Have you ever had Cowboy Cookies, or Ranger Cookies? Well, these are very much like that. In fact they're right along the same lines. Both cookies contain oats, coconut, chocolate, dried fruit and nuts. They're very chunky and chewy and soft and filling. Everything a cookie should be.

White Chocolate CocoNut Oat Chunkers adapted from Martha Stewart
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups al-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp.baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 2 cups quality white chocolate chips or chunks
  • 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans (about 4 oz)

Preheat to 350 F. Cream butter and sugars in a large bowl. Mix until smooth and creamy. Mix in eggs, one at a time until combined. Stir in vanilla.

Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl. Gradually stir in butter mixture until well combined. Stir in oats, chocolate, coconut, dried cranberries, and pecans.

Drop batter by heaping tablespoons onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Flatten slightly. Bake cookies until golden, 16-18 minutes. Let cool on cookie sheets for 2 minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack. Cool completely.

Makes about 4 dozen

NOTE: I did not sift the dry ingredients. And I added the flour mixture to the butter and sugar, not the other way around. I made these with pecans and dried cranberries instead of walnuts and golden raisins that the original recipe called for.

I used a medium ice cream scoop to portion these out and they baked for exactly 16 minutes. They don't rise or spread much, so be sure to flatten them a bit before baking.

Also, today is my sister's 23rd birthday. Happy Birthday Sammy! I love you!

Sunday, March 22, 2009


Since the POM Wonderful people were so gracious in sending me a case of 100% Pomegranate Juice, I decided the first thing I'd make with it was a smoothie. My husband and I drink smoothies almost every weekend with our breakfast and it just seemed the natural choice.

Did you know POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice has more antioxidant power than red wine? My FIL is a fan of red wine for this reason, but now there's a healthier option for him since drinking red wine for breakfast really isn't an option for most people :-) Drink it alone or add it to a smoothie. The pomegranate juice in this smoothie adds a brightness, the honey sweetness, the yogurt creaminess and the strawberries body. It's good and good for you!

Strawberry POMegranate Smoothie
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 8 oz. yogurt
  • 4 oz. POM Wonderful Juice
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • 12 frozen strawberries

Place all ingredients in blender in order as they appear above. Blend well til the frozen strawberries are smooth. Scrape the honey down off the pitcher sides if necessary. Pour into tall glasses and garnish with a fresh strawberry and a straw.

Makes 2 tall servings- about 4 1/2 cups.

BTW, I added a cool little feature at the bottom of my blog. Go ahead, take a look, I'll wait.........................Okay, you back? Isn't it fun? You can add it to your side bar or anywhere on your blog. Click here to get one!

And while you're at it, click on over to Donna's blog to her Spring Fever Giveaway!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Surprise Package!

Look what came in the mail today!
Thanks for the care package POM Wonderful!

Which recipe should I try first?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Easy As No-Bake Pie!

I made this creamy, dreamy pie for St. Patty's Day. This is not the recipe I made for Rach's March Challenge. Well it was going to be, but then I noticed the challenge rules state that it must be something "baked" Duh, so I made something even more decadent than this for that!

I love all the foil going on in these three next pictures. So shiny!

I set out to make this pie because others were tempting me with their chocolate mint, cookies and cream concoctions. Check out Dawn's Mint Chocolate Thumbprints, Mary's Thin Mint Strawberry Pi and Thin Mint Chocolate Cupcakes, Donna's Oreos 'n Cream Cake, and Em's Oreo Pie. If you've made something recently with a mint or chocolate cookies, let me know so I can come on over and drool :-p..

Anyway, back to this pie. It was really simple to throw together. And it's something you can make any time of year. Just change up the cookies and you'll have a whole other dessert. I chose to make 10 mini cream pies instead of one large one so I could share with my family and neighbors.

Creamy Girl Scout Thin Mint Pie
  • 2 packed cups chocolate cookie crumbs
  • 6 Tbsp. butter, melted
  • 1-8 oz. block of cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream (makes 2 cups whipped cream)
  • 1 sleeve Girl Scout Thin Mints (16 cookies, divided)

Mix cookie crumbs with melted butter until well blended. Press firmly onto bottom and sides of 9-inch pie plate and refrigerate while making the filling.

Chop 11 of the Thin Mints into small pieces and set aside. Whip heavy cream til it becomes fluffy and stiff, set aside. Beat cream cheese and sugar in medium bowl with an electric mixer til well combined and creamy.

Fold the whipped cream and cream cheese mixture together. Gently fold in chopped cookies. Scoop creamy filling into prepared crust. Spread the filling out to the edges. Garnish with the remaining 5 Thin Mints, cut into halves.

Refrigerate overnight to soften the cookies. The mint flavor will permeate throughout the creamy filling.

NOTE: I made mine into 10 mini pies instead of the larger 9-inch pie. They were so cute! You can also buy a premade cookie crust and use that instead of making your own.

Also, I think the filling was missing something. Maybe a smidge of vanilla or mint extract and the tiniest pinch of salt. That would have been good.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Lick The Beater Good!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I am participating in Rach's March Challenge (and you should too!) so I'll be posting my St. Patty's Day dessert at the end of the month. For now here are a couple "Irish-y" recipes for you to enjoy!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Chocolate Cake+Pudding+Strawberries= Anniversary Cake!

I made this cake for our anniversary last week. Our grooms cake was chocolate cake layered with chocolate buttercream and sliced strawberries, then topped with dark and white chocolate squares. It was gorgeous and the best cake I've ever had. So I made this cake because it reminded me of that cake, though it was round and not square, and was layered with pudding rather than buttercream. They tasted nothing alike, besides the fact that they were both chocolate.....Nope, not even the chocolate tasted the same.

For the first time in a long time, I wish I had a "disaster section" on this blog like Jenn of No Lemon Juice does. Really, this cake was good albeit a bit messy, but I had many disasters along the way, and I'm not quite sure why. Rather than keep writing about it, I'll just post the stunning photos of this cake and borrow Jenn's format at the bottom of this post. Thanks Jenn!

Chocolate Blackout Cake with Strawberries from Sunday Nite Dinner

Pudding Ingredients

  • 3 cups milk
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 8 ounces semi sweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons butter, at room temperature

Combine 2 cups milk with 4 tablespoons sugar in a small saucepan and bring to just under a boil.

In a mixing bowl, combine remaining sugar with salt, cocoa, and cornstarch. Whisk in remaining 1 cup unheated milk. Gradually whisk cocoa mixture into hot milk. Heat, over medium heat, stirring, until mixture thickens and starts to bubble.

Whisk together eggs and egg yolks in a small bowl. Temper the eggs by adding a few tablespoons of the heated milk. Add the tempered eggs to the saucepan and stir for 30 seconds. Remove from the heat and whisk in chopped chocolate and butter. The pudding should be relatively thick and will firm up when cooled. Cool, cover with plastic wrap and reserve in refrigerator.

Makes 4 cups

Cake Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups plus 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup cocoa
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup brewed coffee, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 dozen chocolate wafer cookies (for garnish)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter 2 (8-inch) cake pans and line with parchment. Butter the parchment and flour pans, shaking out the excess.

Sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt and set aside.

In a mixer with a paddle attachment, beat eggs and sugar until thick and lemon-colored. Beat in vegetable oil. Alternately add dry ingredients with buttermilk, scraping the bowl once or twice. Add the coffee and vanilla to form a thin batter. Divide between prepared cake pans.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cake comes out clean, about 40 to 45 minutes. Cool in pan for 15 minutes. Invert onto cooling racks, peel off paper and cool completely.

When cool, split each cake in half with a serrated slicing knife. Spread bottom layer with 1/4 of the reserved chocolate pudding. Repeat with remaining layers, ending with pudding on top.

In a food processor, pulse the cookies into crumbs. Sprinkle on top of the cake.

Serves 16- A little goes a long way!

What I changed: My buttermilk was way passed it's prime so I subbed it with whole milk and a tablespoon of lemon juice (Jenn, do you like the irony?) and let it sit for 5 minutes. I've done this before and it's worked fine. I baked the cakes in 9-inch pans instead of 8-inch and baked them for 37 minutes. Also I didn't use 3 dozen crushed cookies for the topping. I only crushed 2 dozen cookies and used one dozen. Honestly I don't know how more than that would even fit on the cake. Oh, I also added sliced strawberries between the layers.

What I'd change next time: I don't think I'll make this cake again. I loved the idea, and I would make a layered chocolate cake with homemade chocolate pudding again. Just not this recipe.

Disasters: Where do I start? One of the cake layers broke slightly when I was transferring it from the cooling rack back to the cake stand. Not a biggy, I pieced it back together. Once the cakes cooled completely, I cut them in half and made 4 layers. The centers were gummy. They were cooked through but almost fudge like. Once I layered all the cake and pudding the bottom layer (the broken layer) was oozing out the bottom. I tried pressing it back in and I refrigerated it but it still oozed.

Despite tempering the eggs with several tablespoons of the chocolate mixture, it still curdled and I had to strain the pudding mixture through a sieve. No one likes cooked egg bits in their pudding. Yuck!

Overall Impressions: Eh. The cake was good, just not the texture I was looking for. In the original pictures the cake looked fluffy. Mine didn't. I don't know what I did wrong. I don't think the milk/lemon juice made a difference. And I didn't forget the leaveners (and they weren't expired- I checked.) The pudding was "eh" too. I think this would be better with a different chocolate cake recipe and a boxed pudding. Is that sad? I thought the addition of the strawberries was really good. It cut through the rich chocolate pudding taste. It was really pretty and impressive and quite HEAVY. These people loved it!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Things That Make You Go Hmmmm...

I read somewhere many many years ago that Oprah's favorite cake was Hummingbird Cake. I was intrigued and wanted to know what it was. When I finally found the recipe, I thought "how simple" and at the same time I thought "what's the big deal?". And then I thought about it some more and I thought "YUM!" I mean, how could pineapple, bananas, nuts, and cream cheese NOT be good?

So I always wanted to make this cake but never did. I always loved to bake but I didn't do a lot of it unless someone in the family had a birthday. And then when their birthday's rolled around, they had the audacity to request a special cake. Sadly, none of those cake were Hummingbird Cake. Had they not heard of it? So last year while thumbing through Paula Deen's Celebrates! cookbook that I bought from Costco (they have great cookbook prices, btw!) I came across this recipe again. And since my MIL's birthday was just weeks away, I decided this was the cake for her- she didn't get a choice :-) But she loved it! We all did!

I love that the layers baked up evenly and without humps in the middle. And it was so easy- just dump and mix. It was a little sweet, which is why some speculate it's name, but it was so moist and dense and just plain good. Don't wait for some one's birthday to make this. Make it because it's the weekend and you can!

Hummingbird Cake from Paula Deen Celebrates!
  • 3 cups self-rising flour
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 2 very ripe large bananas, mashed
  • 1 (8-ounce) crushed pineapple, with juice
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 4 large eggs, beaten

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour 3-8-inch round cake pans.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, oil, pecans, bananas, pineapple, vanilla, cinnamon and eggs. Stir well with a spoon until the batter is smooth.

Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Bake for 26-28 minutes, until the tops spring back. Cool in the pans and invert onto wire racks to cool completely.

Cream Cheese Icing

  • 1 pound (1 box) confectioners' sugar
  • 1 (8-ounces) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon milk, or more if needed
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans

Mix the sugar, cream cheese, butter, vanilla and 1 tablespoon milk in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer until the icing is smooth. If needed, add more milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, to achieve the proper spreading consistency. Ice between the cake layers, on the sides and on the top of the cake. Sprinkle the top with the pecans.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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