Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Frosting

Yum - Yum - Yum. This cake was just what the recipe called it - perfect. It was moist and perfectly- chocolatey. I made it as a 2 layer cake and doubled the frosting recipe. I did have some frosting left over, but I can think of worse things. :-) I have made a few different chocolate cake cupcakes since making this recipe, and this is still my favorite chocolate cake to date.

Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Cake

2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
2/3 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.

Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.

VARIATIONS:ONE-PAN CAKE: Grease and flour 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Heat oven to 350° F. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely. Frost.

THREE LAYER CAKE: Grease and flour three 8-inch round baking pans. Heat oven to 350°F. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake 30 to 35 minutes. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost.

BUNDT CAKE: Grease and flour 12-cup Bundt pan. Heat oven to 350°F. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 50 to 55 minutes. Cool 15 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack. Cool completely. Frost.

CUPCAKES: Line muffin cups (2-1/2 inches in diameter) with paper bake cups. Heat oven to 350°F. Fill cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake 22 to 25 minutes. Cool completely. Frost. About 30 cupcakes.

Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. About 2 cups frosting.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Cranberry, Pecan and Honey Torte

Sorry for the lack of posts lately - We've had a busy summer with lots of camping, birthday parties, weddings, etc. I have started a new business of sorts - making cookies and cupcakes for showers, parties, etc. I will try to blog those very soon.

This recipe is another that I made up based on something I got from a grocery store. It is a great appetizer and is super simple.


Cranberry, Pecan, and Honey Torte

2 8-oz blocks of cream cheese (I use the 1/3 less fat kind) room temperature
2/3 cup dried cranberries
2/3 cup sweetened pecans (I find these by the salad dressing and croutons)
1 Tbsp Honey
1/4 cup packed brown sugar

Beat cream cheese, sugar and honey in stand mixer or with hand mixer. Then by hand, stir in 1/3 cup each cranberries and pecans.

Line a bowl or plastic container with wax paper - I used a 4 cup rectangular tupperware container. Mix together remaining cranberries and pecans and spread in bottom of paper lined dish. Add the cream cheese mixture to the top. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours. Put a plate on the top of the container it's stored in and flip over so the layer of pecans/cranberries is on top. Serve with Wheat Thins or other crackers or breads.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Birthday Cake Ice Cream

I am in love with my ice cream maker. I had been seeing a ton of home made ice cream recipes floating around and decided to keep an eye out for a deal on an ice cream maker. I ended up scoring one for $24 at Bed Bath and Beyond - and I'm soooooooo glad I did. I had never really had home made ice cream before and now will never go back to store bought.

I haven't blogged any of the recipes I've made yet because the ice cream always disappears before I have a chance to take pictures. Hopefully I can post more recipes soon. I am trying to stick to the no-cook, no-egg recipes, which limits me a little. I may branch out, but I have an egg allergy, so I won't be tasting any of the egg/custard recipes. I have made several flavors so far, but this one is one of my favorites. It is based on the vanilla ice cream recipe that came with my ice cream maker, but I made several changes - like adding the cake mix. It really tastes like cake batter - which is perfect for someone like me who can't lick the bowl when I make cake! I hope you love it as much as I do!

Birthday Cake Ice Cream

1 1/2 cups 2% milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup boxed cake mix (powder only)

Sift together sugar and cake mix. Add in cold milk and whisk until sugar dissolves. Stir in heavy cream, and pour mixture into ice cream maker. Mix according to machine's directions.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Tomato, Basil, Mozzarella Orzo

For those of you that know me pretty well this recipe might surprise you. It appears to be a pasta salad - but I maintain that it's not. For those who don't know me - I can't stand salad dressing of any kind. I don't like the smell or the taste, blah! So when I made this for dinner the other night my husband laughed at me and said it IS, in fact, a pasta salad. My argument is that there's no "salad dressing" or vinegar or anything else that I consider part of the salad family, so therefore, it is not a pasta 'salad.' It's just a pasta side dish. (I know it makes no sense, but that's how I'm rationalizing it)

Anyway, this is an awesome side dish and easy to make for a large crowd. I will be doubling it for an upcoming BBQ. I also love that it is served cold so you can make it ahead of time, stick it in the fridge and get it out for dinner. You can substitute a different pasta for orzo too if you'd like. I picked orzo because I've been on an orzo/risotto kick lately and had it on hand. And as with most pasta 'side dish' recipes feel free to make changes to the ingredients based on your tastes - add a different herb, add olives, etc. It's very versatile.

Tomato, Basil, Mozzarella Orzo

8 oz uncooked orzo
4 oz mozzarella, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 container of grape tomatoes, cut in half
6-8 basil leaves, julienned
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp salt
a few cranks of cracked black pepper

Cook orzo according to package instructions. Drain and allow to cool.

Mix up olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper and basil in a small dish. Pour over cooled pasta and stir to coat. Fold in cheese and tomatoes. Serve cold.

Makes about 4-6 side dish servings.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Philly Pretzels

My brother-in-law threw down another challenge. He sent me a link to a soft pretzel filled with Philly Cheese Steak and asked if I could make em. Sure - why not!?!

I used my standard Alton Brown soft pretzel recipe and followed it to the point of shaping. I divided the dough into 8 portions and formed each portion into a rectangle - about 4"x8". Next add about 1/3 cup of the filling to the middle of the rectangle. Fold in the sides and then roll pretzel and pinch seams. Boil in water and baking soda for 45 seconds or so then roll over and boil for another 45 seconds. Place on parchment lined baking sheet, brush with egg wash, sprinkle with salt and bake for 15-20 minutes.

I am told that actual Philly Cheese Steaks have cheese whiz, but I used 2% milk Velveeta for the cheese.

These were really tasty. I'm not sure how authentic they are, but my husband loved them and I got the thumbs up of approval from my brother in law. They re-heated really well the next day too - just pop them in the microwave for 90 seconds.

Philly Pretzels

1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 package active dry yeast
22 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 4 1/2 cups
2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
Vegetable oil, for pan
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
Pretzel salt

1 lb ground beef
1 onion, diced
1lb Velveeta cheese
Salt and pepper

Combine the water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam. Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil it well with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.

While the dough is rising, brown the ground beef with the diced onion and salt and pepper to taste. Drain any fat. Cut Velveeta into 1 inch cubes and stir into meat mixture until melted. Allow filling to cool.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with the vegetable oil. Set aside. Place a cooling rack in a rimmed baking sheet.
Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan.

In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a rectangle - about 4"x8". Spread about 1/3 cup of the filling on the middle of the rectangle. Fold in the sides and then roll pretzel and pinch seams. Place onto the parchment-lined half sheet pan.

Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 by 1, for 45 seconds and then roll over and continue boiling for another 45 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula. Place them on the cooling rack in the baking sheet.

Once cool enough to touch, transfer pretzels to the parchment lined baking sheets and brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with the pretzel salt. Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 15-20minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Fresh Fruit Tart

I am waaaaay behind on my blogging. It's been a crazy few weeks here with lots of weekend camping trips and busy weeks in between.

I actually made this recipe for a Mother's Day BBQ. It came together really easily and looked impressive. A few guests asked where I bought it! If you're looking for an easy, impressive summer dessert, look no further!

Fresh Fruit Tart


1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened and sliced

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Fresh strawberries, kiwi and blueberries

1 (6-ounce) can frozen limeade concentrate, thawed
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/4 cup granulated sugar
Whipped cream, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

For the crust: In a food processor, combine the confectioners' sugar, flour, and butter, and process until the mixture forms a ball. With your fingers, press the dough into a 12-inch tart pan with a removable bottom, taking care to push the crust into the indentations in the sides. Pat until the crust is even. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until very lightly browned. Set aside to cool.
For the filling and topping: Beat the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla together until smooth.
Spread over the cooled crust. Cut the strawberries into 1/4-inch slices and arrange around the edge of the crust. For the next circle, use kiwi slices. Add another circle of strawberries, filling in any spaces with blueberries. Cluster the raspberries in the center of the tart.
For the glaze: Combine the limeade, cornstarch, lime juice, and sugar in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until clear and thick, about 2 minutes. Let cool. With a pastry brush, glaze the entire tart. You will not use all of the glaze.

Keep the tart in the refrigerator. Remove about 15 minutes before serving. Slice into 8 wedges and serve with a dollop of whipped cream.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Pretzel Rolls

My brother in law was over yesterday and said he had a project for me. He brought out a bag of Trader Joe's pretzel rolls and asked if I could make anything like it.

I do love a challenge. I started searching my favorite blogs first and struck out. So I checked tastespotting and foodgawker. I came across this recipe from foodgawker.

If you've ever made soft pretzels at home, this is really no different. They are just shaped differently. They are soft, chewy and delicious. I had one for lunch today with shaved turkey and provel cheese. A-mazing.

The recipe said to make 18, two ounce balls of dough. I weighed mine and they were all close to two ounces and I only got 16 rolls. I think next time I will make them a little bigger because these were almost slider-size instead of bun-size. The directions were very good, so I've just copied them (almost) exactly from Stresscake.


Pretzel Rolls

1 ½ cups warm water (around 110°F)
1 packet active dry yeast
2 tsp sugar
4 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp kosher salt
4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup baking soda
1 egg, lightly beaten
pretzel salt - I used coarse Kosher salt

Combine the water and the yeast in the bowl of a standing mixer and let rest 5 minutes until foamy. Add the remaining ingredients (sugar, flour, salt, butter) and mix with the dough hook until thoroughly combined, the dough comes together and is rather silky – but not sticky – to the touch.

First rise: Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in bulk. Punch down and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper or Silpat mats.
Shaping: Cut the dough into 18 pieces, roughly 2 ounces each. (Or really any size you wish, keeping in mind that you’re going to have to poach them in the baking soda solution so they need to fit into your pan.) To shape, take a piece of dough and start forming a nice round, smooth ball by pulling the sides to the center and pinching to seal. By doing this, you’re creating a smooth skin around the dough ball.

Place, pinched side down, on a counter and lightly cupping your hand around the dough ball, rotate your hand in small circles lightly rolling the ball around the palm of your hand. This takes some practice. Space evenly on the prepared sheet pans, pinched seam side down, leaving at least 1” between each roll.

Second rise: Cover with a tea towel or a light film of plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes until doubled.

Preheat oven to 425°F and place oven racks on the lowest and middle positions.
Poaching: In a large saucepan, bring 2 quarts of water to a low boil. Add the baking soda and lower heat to a simmer. Carefully slip the rolls into the poaching liquid, seam side down. Poach for 30 seconds then carefully turn the roll over in the liquid. Poach other side for 30 seconds then remove with a spider or slotted spoon to the same prepared sheet pans, seam side down. Repeat with the remaining rolls, leaving at least 1” between rolls for baking.

Glaze: With a pastry brush, glaze each roll completely with the lightly beaten egg making sure to coat all sides completely. Top each roll with a sprinkle of pretzel salt. With a sharp straight edged knife, cut a slash or “X” in the top of each roll.

Bake: Bake the rolls for 15-20 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking – top to bottom, front to back – for even browning. Cool completely. Rolls are best eaten on day of baking but they store pretty well in the freezer, tightly wrapped. Reheat in a damp paper towel for 30 seconds in the microwave.