Do ya like Lemon?

I love lemon!  Also, I have a secret love of zesting lemons.  There’s something about zesting a lemon or scraping seeds out of vanilla beans that makes me feel like a real chef.  I know it’s silly but I really do get a kick out of it.  So with this recipe I got to zest up a storm!

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This week I made a Lemon Crumb Cake to take to a pot luck brunch.  This cake was a very big hit.  I didn’t think it was overly sweet and it had the perfect amount of zip from the lemon.  Well, I think that cause I actually bumped up the lemon in the recipe.  I told ya, I love zesting lemons!!!

The recipe was very easy to follow and like the recipe says, you should use a spring form pan.  Don’t try to do this in a regular round cake pan. I followed the recipe for the most part, I only changed 2 things.  The first was with the crumb topping.  In the recipe it called for using melted butter.  I have found that crumb toppings actually come out a little better if you cut cold butter into the other ingredients. I like to put the butter in the freezer for a few minutes before I use it, I think it makes the butter easier to work with and makes gives you those nice big chunks of crumb topping.  Honestly, I could probably just be happy picking off the crumb topping on some things.  The second change I made was with the glaze.  I added the zest of 1 lemon to it.  I wanted to give the glaze just an extra little bit of zip and it did!

Also, there’s a nice cream cheese layer to the cake that was just the right amount. Sometimes these kind of layers can get over sweet and make the whole thing to start tasting like cheesecake and I didn’t think that was the case here.  Cream Cheese layer just added a nice richness to the cake.

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This cake was super yummy and just perfect for a brunch or an afternoon snack or a dessert or a midnight snack…stop judging me! It’s good is what I’m trying to say and I highly recommend it.  Even if you’re not much of a baker don’t let the several different layers intimidate you.  Once you get into it you’ll see how simple it is.  Now leave me be so I can go zest some lemons…stop judging me!

 

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Cola in my Cake!

cola-cake

This week I got to make a friend of mine a birthday cake!  We were having a good Southern Shrimp Boil for dinner so I decided to go a little southern with dessert and I made a Double Fudge Coca Cola Cake.  This cake made famous by one of my favorite restaurants, the Cracker Barrel.

I have to start off by telling you that this is a very odd recipe and I had a few doubts going in.  First you mix the flour and sugar, which is just about the opposite of most cake recipes, and then add the wet ingredients to that.  But I followed the directions and the batter came out beautifully. Bake for exactly 30 minutes and the cake was perfectly done.

The “frosting” was also a little odd and I would call it more of a glaze than a frosting.  You melt down butter, cocoa and milk and while that’s hot add the powdered sugar.  Now this mixture was way too thin to be called a frosting as I know it.  And the directions said to pour it over the warm cake.  Well, I feel like that was a bit of a mistake.  The frosting just ran all over and most of it ended up under the cake.  Which as it turns out wasn’t all together a bad thing because when we ate it it was like their was a chocolate sauce under the cake.

Overall it was a yummy cake.  I only got a little hint of the coke flavor but that’s okay with me cause I’m a Diet Dr. Pepper girl anyway. And I thought it was going to be overly sweet but I didn’t think so.  I served it with French Vanilla Ice Cream on the side and it seemed to me like everyone enjoyed it.  Would I make this recipe again…maybe.  It was pretty quick and simple and sometimes it’s nice to have a sheet cake instead of layer cake.  And I do like to mix things up like that.  So, I give this recipe a thumbs up but I would have to put it in my maybe file for making it again.

 

Chocolate, Chocolate and a little more Chocolate

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We have gone triple chocolate this week! Chocolate cake/cookie type base, Chocolate Cream Cheese center and Chocolate frosting….is it rich?  You better believe it!

This week I made Frosted Gooey Chocolate Cake Bars. Again with the extra long title and a little misleading on this one as well.  I didn’t really find this to be all that gooey but it’s 100% chocolate so I’ll give it that.

The recipe starts out with making a base with a chocolate cake mix.  I’m a big fan of using cake mixes in other ways than just cake so I always like to give these kind of things a try.  The bottom layer is just the cake mix, 1 egg and melted butter.  It is very thick when you finish mixing it together.  The second layer is a chocolate cream mixture, pretty standard stuff.  I didn’t make any changes to this recipe but I wish I had.  I would have added a little more liquid to the base mixture, maybe some sour cream or a little milk.  I found the bottom to be very very dense and almost a little too dry for my taste.  When I tried it last night I just ate the bar by itself but I would have liked some whip cream or ice cream to go with it.  I’m all for chocolate but this needs something to cut it down a bit.

It also recommended keeping it in the fridge, which I did.  I’m interested to see after letting it set over night if the texture of the bottom layer has changed any.  If so, I’ll have to make a not of that later.

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But as of now, I probably wouldn’t make these again.  The recipe was good and it was simple to make but I know I can make other chocolatey things that I would like much better.

If there’s fruit in the cake it counts as Breakfast Food!

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My sweet treat this week was a very delicious Strawberry Yogurt Cake.  And since it contained fresh fruit and yogurt I declare it both good for you and breakfast food!!

This is a really yummy cake and I highly recommend this recipe.  It was pretty simple recipe and I only made one little change to it.  This was the first time I’ve used a recipe that had me zest a lemon into the flour mixture first instead of the butter/sugar mixture.  I was a little apprehensive of that but it really did help the zest be distributed throughout the cake and it seemed like the flavor of the lemon was much more prominent.  I think it may be because mixing it with the butter and sugar may beat it too much that it loses some of its zip.  I’m going to have to try this with other cakes to see if it’s true. Yep, make more experimental cakes to test this theory…oh the things I do to help society make better desserts. I really do deserve a medal or maybe a crown. I love crowns!  But we’re getting away from the point here. What I wanted to point out is that fresh lemon flavor with the strawberries just made the cake for me.

Now for the strawberries, the recipe called for 12 ounces of diced strawberries.  I can never figure out sometime if they mean 12 ounces of whole strawberries or 12 ounces of diced strawberries.  Because we’re talking about 2 very different things there.  I used a 1lb container of strawberries and I sliced them instead of dicing them.  I thought that dicing them would make them a little mushy after cooking and I would rather have large pieces of strawberry.  I’m glad I made that decision.  The only thing I would change for next time is I would have saved a handful of the slices to sprinkle on top of the batter once I got it into the pan.  Even though they didn’t all sick to the bottom I didn’t think they were very evenly distributed towards the top of the cake. And then of course I made your standard powdered sugar glaze for the top.

strawberry cake

But overall I would give this recipe a big A+.  It’s a great cake for social gatherings like breakfast, brunch or just to have friends over for afternoon tea and cake (which we don’t do enough of that)  It’s not overly sweet and the strawberries and lemon give it a great zip.  In fact, I’m going to go cut myself a nice big slice of this right now!

It was a weekend of Cake!

This weekend was all about cake and cupcakes!  Going away from my Pinterest list this weekend for a very special birthday and for the 4th of July.

First up was the birthday party for my niece, the adorable little Boo who turned the big 1 this year.  I love that I get to do the birthday cakes for her and her big sister.  Since she was turning one we had the regular birthday and the smash cake!  Her birthday party was butterfly themed so I immediately jumped on line and ordered a Butterfly shaped pan from Wilton.  This is a very cute pan and came with the decorating designs already shaped into the pan.  But here’s the problem, once you put your crumb coat of frosting down you pretty much lose the design and just have to free hand it.  Luckily for me, I live with an artist that is much more skilled and steady handed than I when it comes to the decorating. While I did do the purple sparkling center and the outline of the wings he did everything else.  Thank goodness!  And since I had some batter left over I made a few cupcakes as well.

DSCF3558I used just your basic vanilla cake recipe and a simple cream cheese frosting.  I always add about a half a lemons worth of juice in my frosting just to give a little extra zip.  And then I dipped the cupcakes in different colors of sugar sprinkles.  The picture doesn’t do them justice cause they really shimmered in person.

DSCF3557For her smash cake I used the same recipe in a 6 inch cake pan and once again I had my trusty friend Anthony do the writing for me.

Next up was the 4th of July!  I think cupcakes are always a good thing to bring to a large party so I did red and blue cupcakes with vanilla frosting.  Now with these I used a box mix…go ahead…be shocked.  But I am not a snob of the box mix.  In fact I look at it as pre-measured dry ingredients.  It’s what you do with them that makes a difference. The first thing to remember when using a box mix is to NOT over beat the batter. I know the package says to beat the batter for 2 minutes but to me that is just way too long. And even if you see small clumps they will cook out. Next, I substitute milk for the water, melted butter for the oil and I add an extra egg.  From there I mix in different flavors, a little dry instant pudding mix or just same plain old vanilla. And lastly, watch the time and rotate the pan half way through cooking. Most ovens don’t cook evenly and temperatures can vary so much, so keep a good eye on them.

4th of July

I covered them in the classic sprinkles and they were pretty damn tasty! And patriotic…see…red, white and blue…see what I did there!

So, next week I’ll get back to trying new recipes off of my Pinterest list but for now I’m going to sit back and enjoy a classic cupcake…or two.

The first of many!

If you know me at all you know how much I love a good list and checking things off.  It is one of the most satisfying things EVER!  I still do a good old fashion grocery list every week and my Thanksgiving Battle Plan is pretty amazing and then of course we have my book list where for the past 8 years I’ve read 538 books.  But now I’ve decided to start going through all the dessert recipes I’ve collected on my Pinterest over the last couple years and I have a feeling that this is going to be a lot like my book list…I’ll continuously add things and it’s going to be never ending!

Cooking has always been one of my favorite things to do and I kind of like this little challenge I’ve set for myself here.  Baking is very therapeutic for me and I do enjoy sharing my yummy baked goods with other people.  I mean, what’s the fun of baking a cake if you can’t share it with people.  So, once a week I’m going to choose a recipe off of my Pinterest, make it, share it and then talk about it.

So, this past weekend I made a Nutella Crunch Ice Cream Cake!  I’ll let you soak that in for a second cause yes it was just as delicious as it sounds.  It was also super easy to make.  Ice Cream Cakes can seem a little tricky but they’re actually pretty simple to make and they are just beautiful and can really trick people into thinking you’ve made this really elegant and expensive looking dessert.

First off, I have a particular hatred of recipes that use cereal because the recipe will call for an amount, and in this case it was 6 cups of Rice Krispies, and how in the hell are you supposed to know what size box to get.  I mean 6 cups is a lot!  So, if you try this recipe I will warn you now not to buy the big family box like I did!  Thank goodness I have The Boy here who will hopefully polish the rest of this box off for me. Next up was the Nutella and being the thrifty girl I am I purchased the Von’s brand cause I see no taste difference but I do see a $2.00 difference. And then I used a gallon of French Vanilla Ice Cream and again I used the one that was on sale.  That was it, three ingredients! I followed the recipe as is and it turned out perfectly.  Just to add some tips to the recipe, I left my ice cream out for about 15 minutes on the counter and then took it for a spin in my mixer with the paddle attachment just to help soften it up a bit.  This helped when it came time to stir in the cereal bits. And I will confess that I had a handful of the crunchy topping left over and that alone made a nice little snack!

I took it over to a friend’s house to share while we watched the Tony Awards last night.  It traveled really well and it was easy to slice and serve and everyone really loved it.  I got a lot of “yummies” and “this is awesome”.  It makes me so happy to see everyone enjoying something I made. It makes me excited for this whole challenge!  I haven’t chosen my next recipe yet but I can’t wait to make something else.

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