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.

 

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I love cookies!

Cookies have always been one of my favorite things to bake.  They were the first things I learned how to bake when I was little.  Every Christmas we would make tons of cookies and give them out as gifts and I still do that now.  I love nothing more than to see my kitchen covered in cookies.  So, when I had a group party to go to this week I made cookies!

 

cookies

Since we were going to have a big group of people I went with 2 different kinds of cookies, a Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Cookies and M&M Chocolate Cookies.  Plus, anytime I make something with peanuts or peanut butter I like to make something else since I want to make sure people with nut allergies have something too.

The banana cookies were basically banana bread with chocolate and peanut butter chips.  I was a little surprised how much of the banana flavor came through because there was only 2 bananas used.  I thought for sure the flavor would get lost but it didn’t.  They were soft and delicious.  I would make these again in a heart beat and they were a big hit with the crowd.

The chocolate M&M cookies were dense and very chocolatey.  I would also make these again as well but I would change it up a bit.  I would chill the dough next time so the cookies would be a little puffier. I was a little disappointed that they went a little flat after cooling.  Also, if you look at the picture from the recipe you can clearly see the M&M’s and you can just kind of see them in mine.  I’m pretty sure that they put M&M’s on top of the cookies before baking them so you can see them on top like that.  I know it doesn’t do anything for the taste but you know what they say, you eat with your eyes first.

Now let’s talk chocolate chips.  I am 100% a ghiradelli girl.  I think they make the BEST chocolate chips.  They are huge and even at room temperature they stay nice and soft.  I love them!  My favorite is their Milk Chocolate (which I used in the banana cookies) and I used the Dark Chocolate in the M&M Cookies.  They’re going to cost you a little more but I think they are totally worth it.

And now I want milk and cookies….which I’m going to go get right now!

Chocolate, Chocolate and a little more Chocolate

choco

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.

choco1

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.

My Strong Cheesecake Game Continues!

I know I probably shouldn’t have made back to back cheesecakes but I needed something to take to brunch on Sunday and well this has orange in it and you have orange juice for brunch so this is good for brunch.  Or at least that’s what my brain said late at night when I was deciding on this.  I’m not on trial here!

So anyway here you have the very delicious Chocolate Orange Cheesecake! Now I will say I’m not a huge fan of the chocolate and orange combination but as a cheesecake lover I was willing to give this a chance and I’m so glad I did.  This is a beautiful and delicious cheesecake, that was fairly simple to make.

And yes of course, I made a few changes to recipe but I’m sure the original recipe would also be just as good.  First, I didn’t use orange extract.  I’m not a big fan of this extract as I find it can be a little over powering and I wanted a good hint of orange not have it take over the whole cheesecake.  So instead I used the zest of 2 oranges and the juice of one. Secondly, the recipe said to use the extract before separating the mixture to make the chocolate layer but I didn’t add the orange zest or juice until after I removed part of the batter.  I wanted the chocolate layer to be pure chocolate.

The thing I liked best about this recipe (and I’m kind of kicking myself for not thinking of this) is that it recommended freezing the chocolate layer for 15 minutes so it would be easier to smooth out the top layer.  And in the heat I’m dealing with in my kitchen right now that piece of advice was a Godsend! I will be doing that with all of my layered cheesecakes from now on.

orange chocolate2

This was a delicious cheesecake and my friends really enjoyed it and that always makes me happy. The end result was one of the creamiest cheesecakes I’ve ever made and the chocolate and orange combination worked beautifully together.  The only drawback and this has nothing to do with the recipe is that the weather did make the cheesecake go soft a bit but once it was back in the fridge it firmed right back up.  So, maybe I need to lay off the cheesecakes until the weather cools a bit.  Stupid Heat Wave!!!

A Classic This Weekend

choco pie1

There’s a reason why some things are labeled as “classic” and in dessert making a chess pie is one of those classic pies.  I’ve been asked and I have also asked people why it’s called “chess” pie and I still haven’t been able to figure it out.  The closest thing I’ve come to getting an answer is that in England something similar was referred to as a cheese pie and American’s messed up the name and called it chess.  I don’t know if that’s right or not and if you know I would love an answer on that.  Also, another mystery of the chess pie is whether it is a classic southern recipe as a cousin to the pecan pie or a New England recipe.  Being from the South I think all yummy things started there so I’m going to declare it as Southern!

Now this weekend I made a Chocolate Chess Pie which I have to admit I’ve never made before.  And now I’m kicking myself for not making one sooner.  This recipe was simple and made one damn tasty pie.  The next time I have to bring a pie to something this one will be at the top of the list.

choco pie

I didn’t stray from the recipe one bit and I suggest you don’t either.  I know some people might be tempted to add nuts or cookie pieces to this and while I’ll admit that that would probably be tasty try it this way to begin with. I served it at room temperature with a little whip cream and it was smooth and fudgy and really delicious. My favorite part is the very top layer that just gives the pie a little crunch on the top.  I had to stop myself from cutting another slice immediately.

So, if you’re looking for a simple and delicious dessert I highly recommend this one.  You probably have most of the ingredients in your kitchen right now!  So…go…go make one now!

Fudge!

fudge

I absolutely, positively love fudge!  It’s one of my favorite treats and I love making it.  This week I’ve made 2 versions of fudge that I’ve never done before but I’m so happy I’ve made them now.

First up let’s go with the more classic of the 2, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Fudge. Just that name puts a smile on my face.  I love peanut butter cups and I love fudge so you know it’s gonna be good and it so is.  Now for people who have a fear of making fudge this is the recipe for you.  No double boilers needed, no candy thermometer needed…just a glass bowl and a microwave and you’re good to go.  But as easy as this is let me give you a couple of helpful hints.  You start out by placing whole peanut butter cups in the bottom of the pan. It was a little warm in my house so I put them in the fridge for about 10 minutes and this helps when it comes to unwrapping all of them.  Your hands get warm and those little suckers will start melting on you quick.  Now the recipe called for 3 cups of chocolate chips and again how many cups are in a bag? Well, it’s approximately 2 cups in a bag so you’ll need a bag and a half but you can eyeball this and still come out just fine.  Last helpful hint, make sure everything is dry before you start melting your chocolate.  Just a little bit of water can ruin chocolate and there’s no coming back.  If I’m melting chocolate in the micorwave I put my glass bowl in there empty first and heat it for about 20 seconds. If there’s any moisture in the bowl it will be dry now and it heats the bowl up giving the chocolate a little head start.  After melting everything down you just pour it over the peanut butter cups smooth it out and top it with chopped up peanut butter cups.  It is awesome….trust me on that!

Next up was the Red Velvet Cake Batter Fudge.  This recipe intrigued me because it’s really freaking weird. It’s start with dry red velvet cake mix, which is odd enough for fudge but then you heat it with butter and a little bit of milk.  When it came out of the microwave I was a little concerned because it had the consistancy of really lumpy cake batter.  Then I stirred in my white chocolate chips and the texture didn’t change all that much and I was honestly very concerned at that point.  Fudge is supposed to be smooth and creamy but this looked very grainy and weird.  Now I did go my own way on this recipe because to me, it’s not red velvet without the cream cheese frosting.  The recipe suggesting topping the fudge with white spinkles but I decided to swirl in some cream cheese frosting instead.  When I had it all together it looked like a horrifying mess and I was pretty convinced that this stuff was not going to see the outside of my kitchen.  But I covered it and put it in the fridge over night like the recipe said.  The next morning I pulled it out and it still looked a little odd but I sliced it and gave it a taste test and it was smooth and creamy and delicious.  I have absolutely no idea how that happened other than magic fudge elves came into my kitchen and worked a little magic on it.  I would be interested to see if you could do the same with other cake mixes.

In the end I would give both of these recipes a thumbs up.  These would be ideal for holiday parties or gift giving.  The chocolate fudge is best at room tempture whille the Red Velvet seems to be best a little colder, just an FYI.  But you should totally give them both a try…even if it’s just to test and see if you have Fudge Elves in your kitchen too!

 

Shortbread…it’s still a thing!

shortbread

I can’t remember the last time I made shortbread and I don’t know why I don’t more often.  It’s buttery and delicious and super easy to make.  Seriously, give this a try.  The recipe I chose this week was White Chocolate Peanut Butter Shortbread Magic Bars.  Again with the overly long name.  I think “magic bars” could be left off but that’s just me.

The recipe is very easy to follow and I didn’t run off and do my thing with this one. Except the recipe said to bake for 40 to 45 min but mine was done in 30.  So let that be a little lesson, keep an eye on your baked goods all ovens run a little different.  And my oven is a special little flower that needs a lot of attention and a good oven thermometer.

The thing that bugs me sometimes with recipes is the measuring of chocolate chips.  Do any of you actually measure them out cause I don’t.  I just eyeball it.  With the shortbread I used about a half of bag of mini chips and for me that was plenty.  I think if you get too many in there you might as well just use regular size chips.

The pouring of the sweetened condensed milk on top of the dough before cooking was a new thing for me.  I honestly wasn’t sure if that was going to work or not.  I like to rotate my pans half way through cooking and when I went to turn the pan the milk had kind of pooled and was even runnier than when I started so I was a little concerned.  But fear not by the time it was done cooking the milk had set and caramalized on top making it a little sticky and gooey.  Yum.

After it cooled I frosted it with peanut butter and did my whole Jackson Pollock thing on top with melted white chocolate.  The only thing that was missing was a big glass of milk. Seriously, we were out of milk…I don’t even know how that happens.  But I give this recipe a big thumbs up and highly recommend it.

shortbread2
Yep, I cut them into squares even though the recipe says “bars”.  I’m a rebel!