Sunday, December 22, 2013

Cake Slice Bakers - December 2013: Strusel Squares

I can’t believe it’s been almost a month since my last post. My life has just been so hectic with school and life and just everything that I haven’t baked anything new! I just keep baking these brownies over and over again because it’s quick, easy, and absolutely delicious. Oh and you can never go wrong with chocolate.

However I’m glad to come back with a Cake Slice post! I had to miss November’s cake (the first cake of our new book, Great Cakes by Carole Walter) due to, you guessed it: school. I was determined to make December’s cake though (even though it is a tad late)!

I’m not a big fan of coffee cake, so when this cake won I wasn’t too thrilled. This cake was a nice surprise though! I usually find coffee cakes to be so dry and flavorless, but this one had a nice crumb and good flavor.

One of the ladies suggested using half the amount of vanilla extract along with some almond extract. I must say that this was a very good idea. I think I may have added a tad too much almond because I can definitely taste the almond extract. It’s not a bad taste, but it gives off a very sweet flavor.

I know I must seem crazy when I say this but I don’t like crumb toppings. Wait, what? How can I not like crumble topping? It is pure sugar and perfectly acceptable to eat it for breakfast if it’s laid out over cake and muffins so what’s not to like? Well, truth be told, I just don’t like eating pure sugar! The crumb topping on this cake actually wasn’t too sweet and I actually enjoyed it. I think it has to do with the great amount of flour in the mixture.

I’m please to say that I have had at least one success out of this wonderful looking book and I can’t wait to bake more from it! Now if only I could get some extra baking done before school starts to take over my life again.

Strusel Squares
Makes one 8x8 inch pan
Slightly adapted from Great Cakes by Carole Walter

Crumb Topping
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
½ cup + 2 tbsp. unbleached all-purpose flour
5 tbsp. + 1 tsp. dark brown sugar
½ tsp. cinnamon

1 cup + 2 tbsp. unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
6 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
½ cup sugar
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
¼ tsp. pure vanilla extract
½ tsp. pure almond extract
½ cup milk
1 egg white

Place rack on lower third of oven. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line an 8x8 inch square baking pan with foil and grease with cooking spray.

In a small bowl, whisk together the melted butter, flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Mix until the topping looks like coarse sand.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat the butter on medium speed until smooth. Pour in the sugar in and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat the egg and egg yolk in. The mixture will look curdled, but that’s ok. Once the eggs are fully incorporated stir in the vanilla and almond extracts. Fold in a third of the flour mixture followed by half of the milk. Repeat with the next third of flour and the rest of the milk. Fold in the remaining flour.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Whisk the egg white to break it up. Brush a little bit of the egg white on top of the batter (this will help the crumb stick to the cake). Sprinkle the pieces of crumb topping over the batter. Gently pat the topping to secure it into the batter. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the cake. Cool the cake in the pan for 5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack to cool completely. Cut the cake into squares and serve with hot coffee, tea, or a big heaping spoonful of vanilla ice cream if you want it for dessert.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

I can’t believe November is almost over! I mean seriously, where did the time go?

And with the end of November brings the end of pumpkin baking season, at least in my eyes. The only good thing about pumpkin season being over is that gingerbread and maple season starts. Boy do I love the taste of maple.

But to celebrate the end of pumpkin season I bring you these amazing pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. Goodness these things are so addicting!

In all honesty these have become one of my favorite pumpkin recipes, this cake being my absolute favorite.

These little gems basically taste like a pie shoved in a cookie, especially if you under-bake it just a tad. They are soft, and kind of chewy in a very good way. And the addition of chocolate chips is just a bonus! Whoever thought of pumpkin and chocolate together was brilliant!

Happy Thanksgiving all!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes about 50 medium-small cookies
From My Blessed Life

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flours
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
¾ cup sugar
¾ cup dark brown sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg, room temperature
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
½ cup pumpkin puree
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon. In a large bowl, cream together the sugars and butter. Beat until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat until incorporated. Stir in the vanilla and pumpkin puree. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Fold the flour into the pumpkin mixture. Mix until the flour is just incorporated. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Use a medium-small cookie scoop to distribute the dough. Bake for about 8 minutes or until the edges are set and the center is still soft. Cool on the pan for about 5 minutes before removing the cookies onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake

I am honestly starting to believe that time goes through a black hole and is never to be seen again. That is the only explanation as to why it seems like no time has passed and yet it’s already mid-November.

Today marks the 8th week of 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats, a wonderful blog hop hosted by Brenda.

I absolutely love the holidays and all holiday food. But I have a strict flavor calendar. Like pumpkin in the months of October and November only and maple in late November and all of December. Gingerbread flavors are strictly for December only.

So because it is still November I’m going to post another pumpkin recipe. I hope to get a few more in before the end of the month.

Now I know I just said pumpkin is should stay within the October/November time frame, but some people are cooky and like eating pumpkin in December as well, which is why I’m including this pumpkin cheesecake for the Christmas Treats blog hop.

Now these were supposed to be bars, but I liked the idea of turning this cheesecake-pie combo into a circle because I have a spring form pan and that would make getting the cheesecake out so much easier.

I don’t have many recipes for cheesecake because it’s not really something I think about often or order when I’m at a restaurant. However, every time I do make cheesecake I wonder why I don’t make it more often. Quite frankly I can’t think of a good reason not to make cheesecake.

The filling is oh so creamy and soft and just mmmmmm. And the pumpkin shines through just enough. I have no complaints about the filling at all. If this was cooked by itself I would eat the entire thing with a fork.

The crust was a nice surprise. Most cheesecakes ask for a cookie/graham cracker crust, but this one is more of a pie crust, which I loved. I suck at making pie crusts and they never taste any good. But this one was yummy, yummy in my tummy.

The only complaint about this recipe was the cream cheese frosting. That thing liquefied so easily and I don’t understand what happened! It set up perfectly in the bowl, but as soon as I put it on the cheesecake it just became liquid. But don’t let that deter you from making this luscious dessert!

Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake
Adapted from Eats Well with Others
Makes one 8-inch round cheesecake

¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. sugar
Pinch of salt
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, cold and cubed
1 egg yolk

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
¼ cup sugar
¼ cups + 2 tbsp. pumpkin puree
1 tbsp. pure maple syrup
¼ tsp. pure vanilla extract
¼ tsp. salt
½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. nutmeg
¼ tsp. ginger
1 large egg, room temperature

2 tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature
2 oz. cream cheese, softened
¾ cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

Line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch round spring form pan with tin foil.

For the crust: place flour, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Rub the butter in with the tips of your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse sand. Mix in the egg yolk until the dough starts to come together. Pat the dough into a uniform disk and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate dough for about 30 minutes. Roll out dough between two sheets of parchment paper. Press the dough into the bottom of the prepared pan. Chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 F.

Dock the top of the crust with a fork and cover with tin foil. Bake for about 10 minutes. Take off the tin foil and bake for another 10 minutes. Allow the crust to cool as you make the filling.

Turn oven temperature down to 300 F.

For filling: beat the cream cheese in a large bowl until smooth. Add the sugar and beat until completely combined. In a medium bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, syrup, vanilla, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Pour mixture into the bowl with the cream cheese and sugar. Mix everything together until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Whisk in egg.

Pour filling into the prepared crust and bake for about 20 minutes or until the edges are set and the center jiggles slightly. Refrigerate for 2 hours.

For the frosting: beat together the cream cheese and the butter until fluffy. Gradually beat in the powdered sugar. Stir in the vanilla and salt. Mix until smooth. Spread frosting over chilled cheesecake. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes before serving.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Fudgy Chocolate Chunk Brownies

I love cookies, I really do. But if I see a tower of brownies sitting on a party plate I’m going to go check it out. If it looks fudgy and dense I’m going to be all over it! Don’t get me wrong, cookies are amazing, but sometimes they just give false hopes. I can’t tell you how many times I have bitten into a cookie, thinking the center was soft and gooey, and instead it just crumbles in my mouth. It’s a huge let down and anyone who says differently is a little liar.

So for the 7th week of Christmas Treats, hosted by Brenda of Meal Planning Magic, I’m sharing these wonderfully fudgy, chocolatey, dense, and all around fabulous brownies.

I’m pretty sure these are the best brownies I have made so far, true story. I made these back in the summer for a night out with friends and I regret only eating one because all my friends ate the rest later that night. But then again I did eat a majority of these little darlings.

I used to not like chocolate chips in the brownie, thinking their sole purpose was to distract from a mediocre chocolate taste, but the chocolate chips added to these brownies was just an added chocolate bonus.

Oh and the fudginess of these brownies is serious! I thought about buying vanilla ice cream just so I could tone down the fudge factor. But alas I found myself ice cream-less and reaching for a second third helping of brownie.

Fudgy Chocolate Chunk Brownies
Makes one 8x8 inch pan

½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
½ cup milk chocolate chunks/chips

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line an 8x8 inch pan with tin foil. Grease foil with cooking spray.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, only adding the second after the first has been fully incorporated. Stir in the vanilla extract. Scrape the bowl as necessary. Add the flour to the butter mixture. Mix until the flour has disappeared. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a tooth pick comes out clean when inserted into the center. Cool in the pan until room temperature. Cut brownie into squares and serve.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting


I can’t believe it is almost the end of October and I haven’t shared any pumpkin recipes! But I will change that right now.

Today also happens to be the 5th week of 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats. It is so insane to think that Christmas is that close!

So back to all things pumpkin: I always buy several cans of pumpkin puree because of all the ideas I have to use it with. And how any of those ideas are executed? Only a small fraction, which is sad because fall is the best time of all to bake. If it were acceptable to make things with pumpkin, maple, and molasses all year round I would be a very happy girl.

So for the 5th week of Christmas Treats I’m sharing these lovely pumpkin cupcakes with maple cream cheese frosting (two seasonal flavors wrapped into one!

I wasn’t too excited about these cupcakes when I took my first bite, but that all changed the second day. I think the flavors just needed time to soak in and deepen. The cupcake because super moist and perfectly spiced. One of my favorite things about nutmeg is the little specks is leaves in the batter it is added to. It promises and delivers great things every time.

The frosting was so creamy. I love a good cream cheese frosting; if I were only allowed to have one type of frosting for the rest of my life, it would be of the cream cheese variety. Although with this recipe I think I should have added a tad more powdered sugar to stiffen it up a bit and a little more maple syrup to make it taste more mapley.

Once again, thank you Brenda for hosting such a wonderful bloghop.

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
Slightly adapted from Diethood
Makes 12 cupcakes

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. nutmeg
1 cup sugar
½ cup canola oil
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

6 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup powdered sugar
½ tsp. pure maple syrup
¼ pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a standard 12 cup cupcake tray with paper liners.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar and oil until smooth. Stir in the eggs, one at a time, until completely incorporated. Mix in the pumpkin puree and stir until combined. Stir in the vanilla. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and fold the batter until just combined.

Evenly distribute the batter into the prepared cupcake tray. Bake on the center rack for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle. Allow the cupcakes to cool in the tray for 5 minutes before removing them to a cooling rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting: beat together the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Gently add the powdered sugar and mix until smooth. Stir in the maple syrup and vanilla until completely incorporated. Frost cupcakes as desired.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Cake Slice Bakers - October 2013: Lovelight Chocolate Chiffon Cake with Chocolate Whipped Cream

It’s October 20th (where did the time go?!) and you know what that means! Well if you re new here I’ll tell you, it means the lovely ladies from the Cake Slice Bakers are posting the 12th and final cake from the most wonderful cookbook ever: Vintage Cakes by Julie Richardson.

I don’t think we have ever had a more successful cake book than this one.

I can still taste this Red Velvet Cake we made back in February, my god it was so smooth and delectable, and this Honey Bee Cake was definitely a huge hit for my roommates and me. The honey syrup was so sticky and sweet and just paired perfectly with the cake. Oh and don’t get me started on the Lemon and Almond Streamliner Cake. That is probably my absolute favorite out of all the cakes we made this year. So lemony, tangy, yet sweet too. And the frosting for this cake was amazing! I could eat that out of a bowl with a spoon if my goal was to gain 10 pounds in an hour.

So it has been a tradition for the past couple of years that on the last cake everyone makes a cake of their choice and keeps it a secret from everyone (including the members of the group) until the big reveal.

I ended up making this lovely beauty!

You would think an all-chocolate cake would be really heavy and dense, but not this one. It has 7 egg whites to make it light and fluffy and the whipped cream frosting keeps the whole thing light and pleasant.

I took this to my parents during fall break and by the end of my long weekend (only 4 days mind you) all by this slice you see here was gone. I had to salvage it because I didn’t have time to take pictures.

My mom says this is the best cake I have ever made. I think it has to do with it tasting very similar to this cake my grandma who passed away a few years ago; it was a tough time for my mom. But I’m glad I unintentionally made a make my mom had in her childhood frequently. The only difference between the two cakes was that my grandma put a burnt sugar toffee thing on the top. I really do think that would make this cake extra awesome!

(By the way please excuse all the terrible photos. I didn't have proper light for about a week and since this was the last slice I didn't want to get rid of it so it looks a little mangled.)

Lovelight Chocolate Chiffon Cake with Chocolate Whipped Cream
Slightly adapted from Vintage Cakes by Julie Richardson

Whipped Cream
5 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 cups heavy cream
1 ¼ tsp. pure vanilla extract
¼ tsp. cinnamon
Dash of salt

½ cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
½ cup boiling water
½ cup canola oil
½ cup buttermilk
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
6 large egg yolks, room temperature
1 ¾ cup cake flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 ¼ cups dark brown sugar
7 large egg whites, room temperature
½ tsp. cream of tartar
½ cup sugar

Whipped Cream: place chocolate in a heat-proof bowl. Heat the heavy cream in a saucepan over medium heat until it reaches a slight simmer. Take off the heat and pour over the chocolate, swirling the bowl to coat all of the chocolate in heavy cream. Let the mixture sit for a little bit to allow the chocolate to melt. Whisk the cream and chocolate until combined. Stir in the vanilla, cinnamon and salt. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge until cold, about 3 hours.

Preheat the oven to 325 F. Take out your 10-inch tube pan, do not grease or line the pan. Just get it out in preparation for the batter.

Cake: In a small bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder and boiling water until smooth. Whisk in the oil, buttermilk, vanilla, and yolks.

In a large mixing bowl, sift together the cake flour, baking powder, salt. Whisk in the brown sugar until the big lumps are gone. Stir the chocolate mixture into the flour mixture with a rubber spatula. Stir briskly until smooth. Do not over-mix.

In a clean glass bowl, whip the eggs whites on medium until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and increase the speed to medium-high until the whites reach soft peaks. Decrease the speed to medium and gradually pour in the sugar. Increase the speed to high and whip until the egg whites are stiff and glossy. Fold 1/3 of the egg whites into the batter using as few strokes as possible. Fold in the reaming egg whites until fully incorporated.

Pour batter into the UNgreased tube pan. Place the pan on the lower third oven rack and bake for 45-55 minutes. Do not invert the cake, but place it on a cooling rack until it reaches room temperature. To unmold the cooled cake run a thin knife around the edges to release the sides. Invert the cake onto a serving plate.

Assembly: Place the bowl of the chocolate whipped cream in the freezer for 5 minutes. Whip cream until it reaches a thick and spreadable consistency. Cut the cake into three horizontal sections. Spread 1/3 of the whipped cream onto the top (cut side up) of the bottom third of the cake. Place the middle section of the cake on top of the cream. Spread another ½ of the whipped cream on top of the middle section of the cake. Place the final piece of the cake on top of the whipped cream. Cover the top with the remaining whipped cream.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Baked Powdered Donuts

Face it: we all have our guilty pleasures. Most of the time those pleasures have to do with food. I actually have a set of foods that I cannot buy at all unless I want to eat the entire bag/box in one sitting for instance, doughnuts. I cannot buy any kind of doughnut whether it be glazed, powdered, or chocolate coated because I seriously will start off with only eating one and 10 minutes later I’m left with an empty box of doughnuts.

At least I admit I have a problem. That’s the first step, right?

Anyways because this is the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats I figured I might as well post about one of my all-time guilty pleasures.

These donuts were absolutely fantastic and the nutmeg makes them taste extra Christmassy. And these are baked, not fried, so that makes these a little healthier, right? Oh who am I kidding, I ate them all anyways (no shame)

I found that the moisture in the donut soaked up the powdered sugar pretty quickly, so if you go the powdered sugar route, coat them in powdered sugar right before serving.

As always, many thanks to Brenda from Meal Planning Magic for hosting the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats

Baked Powdered Donuts
Slightly adapted from Salad in a Jar
Makes 8

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1/3 cup milk
¼ cup plain Greek yogurt
1 large egg
2 tbsp. canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease a donut pan with cooking spray.

Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg in a medium bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the milk, yogurt, egg, oil, and vanilla. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry. Mix until just combined.

Spoon batter into a piping bag or ziplock bag with the tip snipped off. My batter was very runny so plan accordingly. Fill each donut cavity half way with batter. Bake 8-10 minutes or until the tops spring back when lightly touched.

Cool in the pan for about 5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack to cool completely. As the donuts cool, place about ½ a cup of powdered sugar into a ziplock bag. Place a completely cooled donut in the bag, close the bag, and shake until the donut is coated in powdered sugar. Repeat with the remaining donuts.

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