German Chocolate Cake – the semi-homemade kind

It’s been awhile since I’ve really been in a baking mood. I’ve baked a few things for work events in the last few months but haven’t really felt like my heart was in it. Then today I decided it was time to get back in the baking groove and make something delicious. So I asked the boyfriend for a request and the next thing I knew my kitchen smelled like the awesomeness that is German Chocolate cake.

Also, I googled German Chocolate Cake and you should know it does not come from Germany. So damn, I can’t make a Wiener Schnitzler joke. Black Forest cakes originated in Germany, so I’ll save the German jokes for that. German Chocolate Cake is named after an American chocolate maker Sam German. Who knew? Good ole Sam must have known what he was doing because this cake smells so good.

I used a semi-homemade recipe which uses a cake mix as a base, but it doctors up the mix and you make the frosting from scratch. Sometimes semi-homemade is just the way to go. If you have ever watched Sandra Lee’s Semi-Homemade show on the Food Network, you’d know how smart that lady is…mainly because every episode of her show includes cocktail time. So, it is pretty much genius.

I followed this recipe from AllRecipes.com

One of my eggs was a weird twin-yolk egg

One of my eggs was a weird twin-yolk egg

Hot from the oven

Hot from the oven

Some people in the reviews complained the frosting took too long to thicken up, mine thickened up in about ten minutes – and I added a little more pecans and coconut just because I was too lazy to measure those.

photo 4 (2)

The frosted cake looks and smells delicious. Unfortunately I can’t tell you if it tastes good because it has to travel in Indiana first.

All frosted and pretty.

All frosted and pretty.

Alright friends in blog-world, there it is German Chocolate Cake made from semi-scratch and sarcasm. Until next time, happy baking!

 

Guinness Chocolate Cookies… That’s right, BEER COOKIES!

Every year for Christmas I like to try a few new recipes for cookies. When I came across a recipe in Cuisine Holiday Cookies magazine for Guinness Chocolate Cookies I stopped dead in my tracks. Freaking beer cookies! Oh and they are chocolate. Beer. Chocolate. Need I say more? These cookies were going to happen. Image

The most time consuming part of this recipe was making the Guinness reduction beer syrup. All it takes is 2 bottles of Guinness and half a cup of brown sugar….and about a good 45 minutes to an hour. The syrup is a nice thick, molasses-like texture with a rich, sweet, syrupy taste. Beyond the syrup you make a pretty standard cookie dough.

Finally, you add both white chocolate chips and semi-sweet chocolate chips – I found the amount the recipe called for ended up being a little much. There were a handful of chocolate chips that ended up not making it into the dough. After my batch of cookies was completely cool I froze them to save for cookie trays…. so far a good third of the batch has been eaten straight from the freezer by a certain someone. No, not me. Well…okay I may have had 2 or 3. So needless to say, before even getting these cookies on my Christmas cookie plates to pass out I’d say they are a success!

Here is the recipe (originally found in Cuisine Holiday Cookies)

Syrup Ingredients:

  • 2 bottles Guinness extra stout beer (12 oz) or 2 bottles Guinness Draught (11.5 oz)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar

Dough Ingredient

  • 2 1/4 all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp espresso powder (I ended up leaving this out because I couldn’t find it at the grocery store)
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups white chocolate chips
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper.Image

Reduce beer with 1/2 cup brown sugar in a medium saucepan over med-high heat until it forms a thick syrup – about 1/3 cup. Remove syrup from heat, set aside to cool slightly.

Whisk together flour, cocoa, espresso powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl; set aside.

Cream butter, shortening, sugar, brown sugar in a large bowl with a mixer on medium speed until fluffy. Add beer syrup, eggs and vanilla, then mix to combine.

Stir dry ingredients into creamed mixture until flour is no longer mixture. Fold in chocolate chips.

Drop cookie dough onto prepared baking sheets (about 2 tbsp per cookie). Bake cookies until edges are set, 12-14 minutes. Let cookies cool on baking sheets for about 2 minutes then transfer to racks to cool completely. ImageAnother bonus, is if you buy a 6-pack of Guinness you’ll have four bottles of beer leftover to drink!

Happy Baking!

 

Pumpkin Part Two – Pumpkin Molasses Cheesecake Cookies

I don’t really think I have to explain why I decided to try this recipe. The title pretty much says it all. Pumpkin. Molasses. Cheesecake. Cookies. C’mon, how could you not try these?

Turns out the “cheesecake” part of the cookies is a little misleading, the cream cheese really just makes these more moist and cake-y. After they came out of the oven I decided they needed to be dressed up a little more, so I drizzled some cream cheese icing on them. This step should be done RIGHT before serving; I did this the night before and the icing melted a bit and kind of soaked into the cookies.

Here is the recipe:
Pumpkin Molasses Cheesecake Cookies (Found on A Sweet Baker)

Ingredients

IMG_0370  1 – 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1/4 cup pure pumpkin puree
1/4 cup molasses
1 tsp. vanilla
2 & 1/3 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 & 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt

Instructions

IMG_0371In your stand mixer with your paddle attachment, cream together cream cheese and butter.
Add in brown sugar and mix until creamy and smooth.
Add in egg, pumpkin puree, molasses and vanilla and mix well until blended well.
In a separate bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients.
IMG_0372Slowly add the dry ingredients to wet ingredients in the mixer and blend until well.
Remove bowl from mixer and refrigerate for about an hour.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
After dough has chilled remove from fridge and, using a medium cookie scoop, place balls of dough on prepared cookie sheets about 2 inches apart.
Bake for 12-15 minutes or until cookies are set in the middle.
Remove from oven and let cool completely on cookie sheet.
IMG_0374Since these cookies only called for 1/4 cup of pumpkin puree I’ve got some leftover pumpkin waiting to be baked into something else delicious.

So link up in the comments if you have a good pumpkin recipe!

 

Pumpkin Part One – Pumpkin Cornbread

One of the first pumpkin recipes I tried this fall was pumpkin cornbread. I had a big pot of Sweet Potato Chili on the stove and it sounded like the perfect side dish for it. I thought it was a little strange the recipe used olive oil (which later I decided was a mistake), but the recipe also had fantastic fall ingredients like molasses, pumpkin, and cinnamon.

This cornbread did not turn out as sweet as I hoped it would. I ended up serving it with honey and butter to try to sweeten it up a bit. I think I would try to re-make this with vegetable oil and upping the sugar. Maybe even drizzling honey on the bread when it is still hot from the oven.

I thought the recipe was a bit of a disappointment, but I think it would be worth experimenting with another try.

Here’s the recipe:

Pumpkin Cornbread (Found on Sweet Pea’s Kitchen)

Ingredients:

IMG_03101 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 cup cornmeal
2 large eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon molasses
Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease an 8×8″ cake pan.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, spices, brown sugar, and cornmeal; set aside.
IMG_0311 In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, lightly beat the eggs, and then stir in the pumpkin, oil, and molasses.
Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients just until combined, and then pour the batter into the pan, smoothing the top.
Bake 25-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Recipe Note:
This recipe makes 12 cornbread muffins, reduce baking time to 10 to 12 minutes

IMG_0312Since I bought about 5 cans of pumpkin to bake with the fall deliciousness continued after this one… next up was Pumpkin Molasses Cheesecake Cookies

An Excuse to Eat Dessert for Breakfast

First off, I should apologize as I have been a bad, bad blogger. As everyone knows, life gets busy and summer tends to be a slower time for me when it comes to baking. Who really wants to be in a hot kitchen in the middle of August?

Good news internet friends, the weather is cooling off and now is the best season for baking. Not only is it cooler out, but usually right about now I start getting the itch to bake with apples, and pumpkin, and cinnamon, and everything else delicious and fall-y. Autumn-y? Yep, neither is actually a word but you get the idea.

So to kick off the fall/winter baking season I’m going to share what has now become a tried and true, go-to, recipe for me: my great-grandma’s favorite coffee cake. The best thing about this cake, is it pretty much is a dessert. You actually use a boxed cake mix for the base, BUT because it is a coffee cake you can totally serve it for breakfast! And let’s be honest, who doesn’t like cake for breakfast? (If you don’t, well, just shhhh!)

This recipe is pretty straightforward, my grandma’s recipe calls for 1 package instant vanilla pudding – I have always used the smaller box; she didn’t specify because she came from the era of measuring in a “pinch” of this and where apparently a “package” meant something specific. (okay haha, insert requisite “package” joke here.) The recipe also calls for some Nestle’s Quik powder (like the kind you make chocolate milk with); I have made it with the Nestle’s Quik and I have made it substituting cocoa powder. Both work. Nestle’s Quik is way more fun though. Also, you should pull out the hand mixer (or use a stand mixer) to beat the batter, it really needs to get well-mixed and fluffy. I made it once without a mixer and the batter was a lot thicker than normal, it still worked but wasn’t ideal.

Here’s the recipe…

  • 1 package yellow cake mix
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 package instant vanilla pudding
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon Nestle’s Quik powder
  • 1/3 cup sugarphoto 1

Beat together the first 5 ingredients at high-speed for 7 minutes. In a separate bowl, mix the nuts, cinnamon, Nestle’s Quik and sugar.

Pour 1/3 of the nut mixture into a greased pan. Pour 1/2 of the batter over the nut mixture. photo 2

Sprinkle the remaining nut mixture over the batter, and then cover with the remaining batter. Marble through lightly with a knife.photo 3

Bake at 350 degrees for 65 minutes. Cool, wrap in foil and refrigerate. photo 4I usually serve the cake at room temperature, despite what the recipe says. Yeah, I know, I’m such a rebel.

So hopefully I will be a better blogger in the coming months, in the mean time, happy baking!

Hey Batter Batter Batter Batter, Swing Batter

photo 2 (2)Ever since going camping last weekend and making some s’mores I’ve had quotes from the Sandlot running through my head. “How can I have s’more if I haven’t had any yet?” C’mon how can you eat a s’more and not think of that scene in the movie. Needless to say somewhere in my head I went from thinking about s’mores to thinking about using the bag of mini marshmallows I had in my pantry for some Rice Krispies Treats. THEN I remembered I had seen a recipe for Cake Batter Rice Krispies Treats… Batter up! (okay please excuse all of the horrible cake batter/baseball batter puns, I can’t help it.)

photo 3 (2)Anyways, I found something that said to add a quarter of a cup yellow cake mix (dry) into the marshmallow mixture before adding the Rice Krispies. Easy enough.

Now I haven’t made Rice Krispies Treats in a long time, and all I can say is I do not remember the marshmallow being so damn hard to stir when its melting.

Despite the stirring difficulties, the recipe is incredibly easy. Here it is:

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups Rice Krispies cereal
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 10 oz bag of mini marshmallows
  • 1/4 cup yellow cake mix
  • SPRINKLES! (because duh everything is cuter with sprinkles, I only had some 4th of July sprinkles so my treats are patriotic)
  1. Melt butter on low in large saucepan
  2. Add marshmallows, as they begin to melt stir in cake mix one spoonful at a time
  3. Remove from heat, mix in cereal and sprinkles
  4. Spread into a 9 x 13 pan, you sprayed with cooking spray.

After I piled the mixture into the pan, I sprayed cooking spray onto my hand and just pressed them down flat. The cooking spray makes it easy to get the treats flattened out and your hands don’t end up a sticky mess.photo 5

That’s all you need to do, then you let them cool and eventually cut them into squares. If you can’t handle this recipe, well then, you’re killin me smalls!

Say Yes to Pretzel-Bottom Brownies

The salty-sweet flavor combination falls in rank as a close second to the combination of peanut butter and chocolate when it comes to being delicious. Another favorite salty-sweet dessert is pretzel jello, and when I realized these brownies incorporated the same pretzel crust I knew I had to make them.

The recipe is rather simple – you put together the pretzel bottom, cover it with brownie batter and bake. The first step in making the pretzel crust involves crushing up your pretzels into small pieces. The recipe suggests using a food processor, but since my food processor is tiny and would require splitting the pretzels into 3 or 4 batches I decided to go with the “smash them in a Ziploc bag” technique. This works, except make sure you put a towel or something under the bag because the pretzels tend to tear through the plastic, leading to a pretzel-dust leakage situation.photo 1

The original blog I found this recipe on warns to not taste the pretzel crust mixture because it is too good and you will want to eat the whole bowl. Clearly I took that as “you must taste the pretzel mix before baking it.” I put all but one spoonful into my pan, so I could maintain some sense of self-control. Luckily the thought of consuming the amount of butter in the pretzel crust stopped me from eating any more than a spoonful, but yes the simple combination of sugar, pretzels and melted butter is pretty frickin fantastic.

After you have the crust ready, baked and cooled, you top it with your brownie batter and bake. Warning: these brownies smell amazing.

Here is the original recipe as found on Allie’s Clean Plate Club:

Ingredients:
Crust:
4 cup pretzels (I eye-balled it, taking handfuls until it looked like enough to cover the bottom of my pan)
¾ cup unsalted butter (1.5 sticks)
½ cup sugar

Brownie Batter:
*you can use a simple boxed mix or your own favorite brownie recipe

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Line a 13×9 inch pan with a foil, letting some of it hang over the edges (this will allow us to lift the brownies out of the pan for easier cutting and presentation).  Be sure to spray the foil with cooking spray or butter and flour.

Process the pretzels in a food processor (or crush them in a sealed Ziploc bag), until small but not to powder.

Melt the butter.

Mix the crushed pretzels, sugar and melted butter in a mixing bowl until combined.

Press the mixture into the baking pan.  Bake for 10 minutes or until the crust has set.

WARNING:  Do NOT taste the pretzel mixture before baking…you might end up eating the whole bowl!!

Cool the baked pretzel crust in the refrigerator.

photo 2Now on to the brownie batter… I used a boxed mix, just follow the directions on the box.

Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees Farenheit. Carefully, spread the batter over the cooled pretzel crust with a spatula or icing knife.

Bake the brownies for 35 to 40 minutes, checking occasionally with a toothpick in the middle to see if they are done.  Cool before serving.

photoI decided to bring this batch of brownies into the my office, by the end of the day all I left was crumbs. Word on the street (well the streets of our office) was that they were like crack brownies. Which doesn’t really sound like a good thing to compare baked goods to illicit drugs, but it is.

So basically, my advice is  to say no to drugs, and yes to Pretzel-Bottom Brownies! (Too corny?)