Wednesday, September 29, 2010

German Chocolate Toffee Cookies

Oh. My. Yum. I think I found my new favorite cookie! No seriously, these are that good. We said farewell to summer this past weekend with a nice, relaxing trip to the beach. But before we headed towards the crashing waves and white hot sand, I was itching for a tasty batch of cookies. You know, something for everyone to munch on while we worked on our tans. I cracked open my baking book and flipped around a few recipes until I came across this one, which I had previously marked as "want to try", so I decided to go for it. The yield amount was huge, so I cut the recipe in half (can't eat too many cookies at the beach or the bathing suit starts to become less cute). Unfortunately for my beach figure, these cookies were too delicious... I ate about four of them fresh out of the oven while I was still baking, a few more later that night for dessert, and of course a couple the next morning for breakfast. Matt had his fair share too and by the time we were packed up with the car loaded, we only had about half of the batch left. Not quite as many as I intended to share. :) And needless to say, what was left of the cookies was devoured the first day of our trip and everyone had the same reaction I did... YUM!

Yields about 40 cookies
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
1 1/4 cups sugar  
1/4 cup packed brown sugar   
2 oz German sweet chocolate, melted and cooled
2 eggs
1 tsp water
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup English toffee bits
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350°. Line baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking soda and salt to combine; set aside. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter, shortening and both sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in melted chocolate. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in water and vanilla. Gradually add in flour mixture. Stir in toffee bits and walnuts.  

Roll into 1 inch balls and place 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove and place on wire racks to cool.

Source: The Taste of Home Baking Book

Friday, September 24, 2010

Tiramisu Cake

How do you say Happy Birthday to Mom? With a yummy tiramisu cake, that's how! My family and I recently came together to celebrate my mom's birthday, so of course a cake was in order. My mom was up for trying something new, so I started searching for recipes, not certain of what I was in the mood for... until I stumbled across this recipe! I love tiramisu, so to transpose it into a layer cake sounded delightful.

This was not a difficult cake to make. It came together quite easily. The recipe called for a packaged white cake mix, but I would have none of that. Don't get me wrong... I have nothing against a boxed cake when you need something super quick or just don't feel like spending time in the kitchen. Lord knows I have baked my share of them! But the whole purpose of this blog is for me to expand my kitchen skills, so I decided I would prepare the cake from scratch... but you could do it either way, just remember to add the instant coffee to a couple of your layers.
Another note about this recipe is that when reading reviews prior to making it, I saw that a lot of people commented on doubling some of the ingredients. I took their advice and doubled the coffee mixture that you use to soak the cake, definitely think that was a solid choice, but I would also recommend doubling the filling. The filling has the richest flavor, so the next time I make this cake I want there to be more of it! I have already factored in these additions to the recipe below, so you should be all set with following these instructions. Hope you enjoy!

3 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
4 tsp baking powder
pinch salt 
1 1/3 cups milk
2 tbsp pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup shortening
1 cup plus 3 tbsp sugar
6 large egg whites
3 tsp instant coffee powder

Coffee Mixture:
1/2 cup coffee (room temperature)
2 tbsp coffee flavored liqueur

2 (8oz) containers mascarpone cheese 
1 cup confectioners sugar
4 tbsp coffee flavored liqueur

2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup confectioners sugar
2 tbsp coffee flavored liqueur

cocoa powder
1 (1 oz) square semisweet chocolate

For the cake: Preheat oven to 375°. Grease three 8 inch round cake pans with cooking spray and line with parchment paper rounds; set aside.

Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl and whisk together; set aside. In a 2-cup glass measuring cup, stir together milk and vanilla; set aside.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer, cream together shortening and 1 cup of sugar. On low speed, add flour mixture in three parts, alternating with milk mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture; beat until just combined.

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites on low speed until foamy. While still mixing, gradually add remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar; beat on high speed until stiff glossy peaks form. Do not over beat. Gently fold a third of the egg white mixture into the flour mixture until combined. Gently fold in remaining egg whites.

Pour one third of batter into one of the prepared pans. Stir instant coffee into remaining batter; divide among remaining two pans. Bake 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire racks and cool completely.

For Coffee Mixture: Combined brewed coffee and coffee liqueur; set aside.

For Filling: In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer set on low speed, combine mascarpone, confectioners sugar and coffee liqueur; beat just until smooth. Cover and refrigerate.

For Frosting: In a large bowl, using an electric mixer set on medium-high speed, beat heavy cream, confectioners sugar and coffee liqueur until stiff. Fold 1 cup of frosting into filling mixture.

For Garnish: To make chocolate curls, microwave chocolate square for 10 seconds. Use a vegetable peeler and run it down the edge of the square.

Assembling the cake: Place one coffee flavored cake layer on a serving plate or cardboard cake round. Using a thin skewer (or toothpick), poke holes in cake, about 1 inch apart. Using a pastry brush, spread one third of reserved coffee mixture evenly over the cake. Then spread with half of the filling. Top with plain cake layer; poke holes in cake. Spread another third of coffee mixture over second layer and then spread with the remaining filling. Top with the other coffee flavored cake layer; poke holes in cake. Spread remaining coffee mixture on top. Cover sides and top of cake with frosting. Place cocoa in a sieve and lightly dust top of cake. Garnish with chocolate curls. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes before serving.

Source: adapted from AllRecipes, cake adapted from Martha Stewart's Lady Baltimore Cake

Monday, September 20, 2010


What a wonderful weekend filled with lots of baking and cooking! What made it even more special is that I had an extraordinary assistant... my mom! :) My mom was gracious enough to join me in the kitchen for two days, doing what I love most, and man was she a trooper. This bread was the first of our creations. Given that neither of us have ever made homemade bread before, we knew we had to attempt this recipe together. You see, I have very fond memories of challah from my childhood... known to me as "egg bread" when I was younger. Mom would ocassionally take me grocery shopping at Publix, and we would always start in the bakery. We would browse the bread selection, and if I was lucky, we would stumble across a loaf of "egg bread". It was always so tasty and freshly made, we would bust open the bag and nibble on it while we shopped. Then once we got home, if we had any left over, we'd pull out the butter and finish off the loaf! Ah, it makes me smile just remembering those times. :)
I mean, just look how beautiful this bread is... how could anyone resist?!

Dough (yields two loaves): 
2 (1/4 oz) packages active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp salt
4 eggs
6 to 6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 egg
1 tsp cold water

In the bowl of an electric mixer, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add oil, sugar, salt, eggs and 4 cups of flour; beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a firm dough, about 2 more cups.

Turn out dough onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes, using remaining flour to keep dough from sticking to hands and surface. Place in a large greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

Punch dough down and turn onto a lightly floured surface. Divide in half, then divide each half into thirds. Shape each piece into a 15 inch rope. Place three ropes on a greased baking sheet and braid; pinch ends to seal and tuck under. Repeat with remaining dough. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

Beat egg and cold water; brush over braids. Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pan and place on wire racks to cool.
 Source: The Taste of Home Baking Book

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Rocky Ledge Bars

I took a dip into my recipe box the other day and pulled out an oldie but a goodie. These bars are one of my favorite treats. They are easy to make, easy to take along and share, and they hit my sweet spot from just the right angle. I discovered them a couple years ago when I was watching The Martha Stewart Show. (Don't you just love that show?!) I saw her making these scrumptious looking bars that I knew I had to try... and I enjoy them so much that I thought I would share them with you!

I have made the recipe verbatim from Martha's version, which calls for caramel chews. This time I subbed the caramel with white chocolate chips... because lately I can't get enough white chocolate! Both versions are equally delicious. The recipe also calls for chopped semi-sweet chocolate, but I use morsels for convenience.

Next time you're hosting a cookout or a dinner party, mix up a batch of these for dessert. Your guests will love them!

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature 
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp coarse salt
1 1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup mini marshmallows
1 cup semisweet chocolate morsels (or coarsely chopped chocolate)
1 cup butterscotch chips
1 cup white chocolate chips (can substitute with 18 soft caramel-candy cubes, coarsely chopped)

Preheat oven to 350° degrees. Lightly grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan. Line with parchment paper, allowing a 2-inch overhang on the longer sides. Grease parchment (not overhang).

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat butter and brown sugar until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla; mix until well combined. Gradually mix in flour mixture until combined. Fold in half of each of the marshmallows, semisweet chocolate, butterscotch, and white chocolate.

Spread batter in prepared pan. Scatter remaining marshmallows, semisweet chocolate, butterscotch, and white chocolate on top. Bake until top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Cool on wire rack. Lift out of pan and transfer to baking sheet. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, until set.

Remove parchment, and cut into triangles. Bars can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week.

Source: adapted from Martha Stewart Living

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

S'mores Cupcakes

Can I have s'more please? :) I have had my eye on these cupcakes for about a month now, and I just got around to making them this past weekend. What a delightful treat! I haven't had an actual s'more before, but the flavor combination has always appealed to me... I mean, when I was a kid I used to eat s'mores pop-tarts like they were going out of style!

Matt was completely sold on these cupcakes. He's usually not a big fan of cupcakes, so I knew I was onto something!

The recipe actually called for toasting the marshmallow frosting. I decided against that with this batch but may have to give it a try the next time. Regardless, the cake and the graham cracker bottom are the real winners here. I sampled a cupcake before frosting them, and I just as easily could have served them fresh out of the oven!

Note: You will want to make sure you have a tall glass of milk on hand before devouring one of these!

Cupcakes (yields 2 dozen):
2 1/4 cups plus 2 Tbsp sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp cocoa powder 
1 1/2 tsp baking powder 
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (from about 20 squares)
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
8 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

Marshmallow Frosting:
8 large egg whites
2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
2 tsp pure vanilla extract

For cupcakes, preheat oven to 350°. Line 2 muffin pans with cupcake liners; set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In another large bowl, mix together eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla with an electric mixer; add flour mixture and beat on medium speed for 30 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl and continue mixing for 2 minutes. Add boiling water and stir to combine; set batter aside.

Place graham cracker crumbs, remaining 1/4 cup sugar, and melted butter in a medium bowl. Stir until well combined. Evenly place graham cracker mixture into muffin cups. Pack crumbs into cupcake liners using the bottom of a small glass. Sprinkle a small amount of chopped chocolate in muffin cups over crumb layer and bake until graham cracker mixture is golden, about 5 minutes. (Reserve any extra graham cracker crumbs for decorating.)

Remove from oven and fill muffin cups three quarters full with cake batter. Sprinkle each with remaining chocolate (reserving extra for decorating). Return to oven and bake 18-20 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking. Cupcakes are done when toothpick inserted in center of cupcake comes out clean. Place pans on wire racks for cooling. Cool in pans for 10 minutes, then remove from pans to cool completely.

For frosting, place egg whites, sugar and cream of tarter in the heatproof bowl of an electric mixer. Set over a saucepan with simmering water. Whisk constantly until sugar is dissolved and mixture is warm to touch, about 3-4 minutes. Transfer bowl to electric  mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Beat, starting on low speed and gradually increase to high, about 5-7 minutes until stiff, glossy peaks form. Add vanilla, and mix until combined. Use immediately.

To decorate, pipe icing with large round tip. Sprinkle with remaining graham cracker crumbs and chopped chocolate, and top with Hershey bar and piece of graham cracker.

Source: Butter + Cream

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Dreamy Chocolate Mousse Cake

Do you ever dream about chocolate cake?

the soft, delicate sweetness of chocolate mousse...

sandwiched between moist, chocolaty goodness...

and all of it bundled by a coat of richly divine, chocolate frosting.

If not, it's because you haven't experienced the deliciousness of this cake. It is so good, my mouth is watering just thinking about it!

I made this cake for two very special (his and her) birthdays. When I asked (her) what kind of cake she preferred, she said chocolate... simply perfect! I have tried a couple chocolate cake recipes in the past, but I wanted to try something new. This cake is a Paula Deen recipe I found on Jane's Sweets & Baking Journal. The cake looked heavenly, so I had to try it... thank goodness I did because it has officially taken up residency in my recipe box!


2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder 
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup milk
1 cup strong brewed coffee
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs

1 (1/4 oz) envelope unflavored gelatin
3 Tbsp cold water
1/4 cup boiling water
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 cups heavy whipping cream

Chocolate Frosting:
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup heavy whipping cream
5 (1 oz) squares unsweetened chocolate
1/2 cup and 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup confectioner's sugar

chocolate curls

First, start by making the mousse because it will need to chill before you can assemble the cake. In a small bowl, soften gelatin in cold water. Let stand for 2 minutes. Add boiling water and stir slowly until gelatin is completely dissolved. Set aside. In another small bowl, whisk together sugar and cocoa. In a medium bowl with an electric mixer, beat heavy whipping cream on medium speed until foamy. Gradually add sugar/cocoa mixture and continue beating until it holds stiff peaks. Then stir in dissolved gelatin by hand, making sure to fold evenly throughout mixture. Cover and chill for 4 hours.

Making the cake layers... Preheat oven to 350°. Grease three 8" round cake pans. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add milk, coffee, oil, and eggs. Beat at medium speed until smooth. (The batter will be thin.) Pour evenly into prepared pans. Bake 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool cakes on wire racks for 10 minutes, then remove from pans and cool completely on wire racks.

Making the frosting... In a medium size sauce pan, combine granulated sugar and whipping cream. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 6 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Add butter and chocolate, stirring until completely melted and mixture is smooth. Let cool 10 minutes. Whisk in confectioner's sugar. Cool until frosting reaches a spreadable consistency.

For garnish, soften two squares of Baker's semi-sweet chocolate (or the chocolate of your choice) for 10 seconds in microwave. Use a vegetable peeler to create curls. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Assembling the cake... Place one layer of cake on a cake plate or round cake board. Spread a thick layer of mousse on top. Place on second layer of cake. Spread another thick layer of mousse on top of the second layer. Place on third and final layer. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or so. Frost top and sides of cake with chocolate frosting and sprinkle chocolate curls for garnish. Keep cake refrigerated until shortly before serving. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

“Take Me Out to the Ball Game…”

How many of you have been enjoying our great American pastime this summer? Only a few weeks left of the regular season, and I (unfortunately) have not made it to a Braves game yet. However, I'm feeling a little more motivated after making this "home run" cake for my little brother in law, Jared. He turned seven years old a couple weeks ago. And after three months of asking his big brother to take him to a Braves game for his birthday, his wish finally came true... Matt took Jared to his first professional baseball game, and he loved it! Since Jared is now a huge Braves fan, a baseball cake sounded like a great idea for his birthday party! I baked a classic yellow cake and decorated it with buttercream icing... looks pretty cool, right? :) Special thanks to Uncle Mark who snapped a few pictures for me since I forgot my camera!

There isn't a recipe to go along with this post. I just wanted to blog about this cake because I was happy with the way it turned out!

Go Braves!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

White Chocolate-Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake

Who loves cheesecake? I have to admit I did not discover my love for this dessert until I was in college. My husband, who I began dating my sophomore year, insisted that I try a bite of a cheesecake he was enjoying one night... and I loved it!

Note: My husband earns a lot of credit for me venturing outside of my norm and trying new things. He keeps me open minded. :)

I fell in love with plain NY style cheesecake first. I didn't want anything to do with fruity toppings or additional flavors of any sort. Plain, simple cheesecake was delicious enough for me. After a year or so of refusing to branch out, Matt (my husband), went to the store and bought a sampler tray of cheesecake that had about five or six variations. Chocolate, strawberry, caramel, Oreo... it was cheesecake overload. But we sat down after our dinner that night and tried them all! And what do you know, I like an assortment of cheesecakes. :)  So in celebration of our 3 year wedding anniversary this past week, I made a white chocolate-raspberry swirl cheesecake... seemed appropriate, don't you think?

This is a Kraft Foods recipe that is super easy, but tastes as though you spent hours laboring in the kitchen. It's the perfect dessert for a casual dinner party. Very little effort, with a whole lot of flavor!

White Chocolate Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake

2 8oz packages of cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
3oz Baker's white chocolate, melted
1 6oz ready made graham cracker pie crust (recipe calls for an Oreo pie crust which I'm sure is just as tasty)
3 Tbsp raspberry preserves

Preheat oven to 350° F. With an electric hand mixer, beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until well blended. Add eggs and beat just until blended. Stir in melted chocolate. Pour into crust.

Microwave preserves in a small bowl for 15-30 seconds or until melted. Spoon small dots on top of cheesecake and gently swirl with a knife.

Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until center is almost set. Place on wire rack for cooling. Refrigerate 3 hours.

Source: Kraft Foods

Here we go...

I have done it... I have finally decided to start a food blog! 

I fell into the blog world several months ago after searching online for a chocolate cake recipe. Stumbling across a delightful picture of an Oreo cupcake, I clicked on the link and found myself swimming in a sea of delicious recipes and gorgeous photos. I was hooked! After reading through more of the blogger's postings, I decided I had read enough and it was time to step into the kitchen and whip up a few of these tasty treats. And man, I'm so glad I did! The results were fabulous, and I found myself visiting that blog daily. I soon discovered the person's blogroll, and well, there was no turning back then. :)

I love to bake. It is a hobby I truly enjoy, but there is so much I have yet to learn.

So, here we go...

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