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Archive for the ‘Cake’ Category

68 Days of Gourmet: Day 14

Saturday was my one year blogiversary! On November 28, 2008 I made my blogging debut with my Dad’s chili recipe. To celebrate reaching the one year mark I decided to make the Flourless Chocolate Cake from The Gourmet Cookbook. I thought it would be a nice departure from Thanksgiving desserts and I can’t get over how easy it is to make this cake. It’s a perfect option for an impressive dinner party dessert when you don’t want to spend all day in the kitchen.

I am not the biggest chocolate dessert fan (I know, I’m crazy) but Brandon gave this cake two thumbs up and I consider him a chocolate dessert aficionado. He is known for always ordering the most chocolaty and rich dessert on the menu at restaurants! The texture is almost brownie-like (fudgy) but the taste is similar to a very dark chocolate cake. Brandon requested his with a scoop of ice cream but it’s also nice served with fresh whipped cream, a dusting of powdered sugar or cocoa powder and fresh berries.

If you’re having a chocolate craving or looking for an easy dessert to impress guests give this Flourless Chocolate Cake a try!

Flourless Chocolate Cake
(Recipe source The Gourmet Cookbook)

Ingredients:

8 ounces good quality bittersweet (not semi-sweet) chocolate, roughly chopped
2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 1/2 cups sugar
6 eggs
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease a 9 or 10 inch springform pan and line the bottom with wax or parchment paper (cut into a circle to fit bottom of pan). Make sure to grease the liner as well.

In a double broiler or in a large bowl over a pan of simmering water, add chocolate and butter. Stir constantly until melted. Remove bowl from heat and whisk in sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Last, sift cocoa powder into mixture and whisk until just combined.

Pour batter into prepared springform pan and bake for 35-40 minutes. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out with moist crumbs and top should have a thin crust. Cool cake in pan on a rack for 10 minutes and then remove sides of pan. Invert cake on a plate and then back onto the rack to fully cool before serving.

Yield: 10-12 servings

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 12

I came across this recipe while flipping through the Breakfast/Brunch section of The Gourmet Cookbook. I thought it would be perfect to have on hand during the holidays, as a breakfast treat or an afternoon snack. Brandon and I decided that this bread is definitely less coffee cake and more pound cake. The flavor of the cake itself was extremely reminiscent of pound cake. The fresh cranberry ripple added a nice touch of fruit flavor. This would be perfect to have around the house for guests to snack on or as part of a holiday breakfast or brunch. I sliced and wrapped the bread in individual slices and put them in the freezer for a quick (and indulgent) snack on the go.

Fresh Cranberry Coffee Cake
(Recipe source The Gourmet Cookbook)
Printable Recipe: Fresh Cranberry Coffee Cake

Ingredients:

2 cups fresh or thawed frozen cranberries
1 3/4 cup sugar, divided
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole milk
Optional: confectioners’ sugar for garnish

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter a 9 x 5 loaf pan.

Place cranberries and 1/2 cup of sugar in food processor and pulse until cranberries are finely chopped and sugar is incorporated, careful not to puree. Place in a sieve and let drain while you prepare the cake batter.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl with a hand held mixer, cream together butter and remaining 1 1/3 cup sugar for about 3 minutes on high speed until light and fluffy. Reduce mixer speed to medium and add in eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add in vanilla. Reduce speed to low and alternately add flour mixture and milk in three parts, beginning and ending with flour.

Spread 1/3 of the batter in bottom of prepared loaf pan. Spoon 1/2 of the cranberries over the batter, leaving a 1/2 inch border around the edges (see picture below). Top with another 1/3 of batter and remaining cranberries and finally, top with last 1/3 of batter.

Bake for 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Yield: 8 servings

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 10

I just finished sampling a slice of this cheesecake. I love cheesecake and I love pumpkin and this combination didn’t disappoint. Brandon’s first comment was, “I can’t believe how much it tastes like pumpkin pie.” I think what I like best about it is that it’s not too sweet. The balance of flavors is perfect and the texture is nice.

This cheesecake was published in Gourmet in November 2000. It’s received over 300 reviews and maintains a 4-fork rating. It’s definitely a winner if you’re looking for a holiday dessert. This cheesecake is a nice change from the traditional pumpkin pie. But don’t save it only for Thanksgiving, it’s a great dessert to serve throughout the fall and holiday season.

I substituted ginger snaps for the graham crackers in the crust because I love holiday cheesecakes with ginger snap crust. Also, you can omit the bourbon if you’d like but the bourbon flavor is not very strong.

If you’re a cheesecake and pumpkin lover this dessert is for you!

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Bourbon Sour Cream Topping
(Recipe source Gourmet, November 1990)

Ingredients:

FOR THE CRUST
3/4 cup graham cracker or ginger snap crumbs
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

FOR THE FILLING
1 1/2 cups solid pack pumpkin
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon bourbon (optional)

FOR THE TOPPING
2 cups sour cream
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon bourbon (optional)

Directions:

FOR THE CRUST
Butter a 9-inch springform pan. Combine the crumbs, pecans and sugars in a bowl. Stir in melted butter and press mixture into the bottom and 1/2 inch up the sides of springform pan. Chill crust for 1 hour.

FOR THE FILLING
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk together pumpkin, eggs, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, salt and brown sugar in a large bowl. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together cream cheese and granulated sugar for about 3 minutes. Add in cream, cornstarch, vanilla and bourbon and mix until incorporated. Add in pumpkin mixture and beat until smooth.

Pour filling into chilled crust and bake the cheesecake for 50 to 55 minutes, until the center is just set. Remove from oven and let cool in pan for 5 minutes (leaving the oven on).

MAKE THE TOPPING
Whisk together sour cream, sugar and bourbon in a bowl.

Spread sour cream mixture evenly over top of the cheesecake. Bake for 5 more minutes. Remove from oven and let cool in the pan on a rack for at least an hour. Place in refrigerator and chill covered overnight.

Release cheesecake from pan and serve.

Yield: 8-10 servings

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choccakeandslice

I had a three week break between my temporary job with the American Cancer Society and my new full-time job that I started Monday. I’m not going to lie…I must admit that I enjoyed my brief stint as a housewife. The best perks were having plenty of time to work out (daily run and yoga classes!) and having time to cook and bake to my heart’s content!

Last week I was really craving a chocolate cake. I had a block of cream cheese in the fridge and so I decided a chocolate cake with chocolate cream cheese frosting would be perfect. I used my all-time favorite chocolate cake recipe, the Hershey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Cake, and a based the frosting off of a recipe that I found on The Cupcake Project.

It was a delicious combination. The Hershey’s cake is so moist and the chocolate cream cheese was to die for. It was kind of reminiscent of chocolate cheesecake for me. Brandon and I both enjoyed this cake for dessert multiple nights last week and also shared a few slices with family. I will most definitely be using this flavor combination again!

choccake

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
(Recipe sources Hershey’s and The Cupcake Project)

Ingredients:

FOR THE CAKE
2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup Hershey’s Cocoa powder
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

FOR THE FROSTING
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese at room temperature
1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick) at room temperature
3 cups sifted powdered sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder

Directions:

FOR THE CAKE
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 8-inch or 9-inch round baking pans.

In the bowl of a stand mixer stir together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla and beat on medium speed for about two minutes. Pour in boiling water and continue to mix until incorporated, batter will be thin. Evenly distribute batter between the two prepared pans.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Start checking the cakes around 25 minutes as oven temperatures may vary (and no one likes an overdone cake)!

Cool in pans for about 10 minutes then run a knife around the edges and gently remove from pans and place on wire racks to cool completely.

FOR THE FROSTING
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat all ingredients on medium high speed until light and fluffy.

To frost cake, place first layer down and frost top, leaving about a 1/2 inch border. Place second layer on top and frost top and then sides.

Yield: 8-12 servings

choccakeslice

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applecake1

One of my all-time favorite cakes is Apple Spice Cake. I loved when my mom baked them growing up. My favorite two desserts that she made were apple cake and banana pudding. I always requested them and my chances that she’d make them got a lot better when I moved away from home :).

Now that the weather is getting cooler and apples are coming into season I found myself craving an apple cake. The recipe my mom uses calls for a lot of vegetable oil and I decided to try a new recipe that featured butter instead. I researched recipes for a while and found this recipe from Cooking Light that sounded great and had received awesome reviews since it was originally printed in 1997. Now, I kind of disagree that this is a light recipe but if they say so…I guess I’ll let myself feel better about it. But how can a cake be light when the recipe includes a stick of butter and cream cheese?

All that matters is that this cake is so good I ended up baking it three times last week. Once for us, once for my sister-in-law (who is expecting her second soon!) and once for my mom. The cake received outstanding reviews from everyone. My sister-in-law texted me the day after it was dropped off and said she’d already had two pieces for dessert and one for breakfast. And she used it as a bargaining tool to get our niece to eat her meals. She said that Emerson loved it so much she would tell her she could have one bite of cake if she ate a bite of her dinner. And I’m very happy to report that my mom approved of the new recipe and even asked for it. So it was a success all around.

The directions call for baking this cake in a springform pan and it gives it a great height that you can’t get from a standard cake pan. I changed the recipe up a bit by changing the mixing method and adding extra cream cheese, nutmeg and chopped pecans. I think the pecans are a must in this cake.

This Apple Cinnamon Cake stays moist for days and is definitely a fall crowd pleaser.I admit that I ate it for breakfast and dessert! It’s delicious served warm with ice cream!

Apple Cinnamon Cake
(Recipe adapted from Cooking Light)

Ingredients:

1 1/2  cups  sugar, plus extra for cinnamon sugar mixture for pan
8 ounces (1 block) 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened
1/2  cup  butter (1 stick), softened
1  teaspoon  vanilla extract
2  large eggs
1 1/2 cups  all-purpose flour
1 1/2  teaspoons ground cinnamon, plus extra for cinnamon sugar mixture for pan
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons  baking powder
1/2 teaspoon  salt
1  teaspoon  ground cinnamon
3  cups chopped peeled Fuji apples (about 2 large)
1 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped
Cooking spray

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together a little bit of cinnamon and sugar (about 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon and 3 tablespoons sugar). Grease a 9-inch springform pan with butter wrapper or cooking spray. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture and tap sides to evenly distribute. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder and salt. Whisk together well to incorporate. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, place 1 1/2 cups sugar, cream cheese, butter and vanilla. Mix on medium high speed until lightened in color and fluffy, about 4-5 minutes. Reduce mixer speed to low and add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour mixture to cream cheese mixture a little at a time, beating at low speed until well blended.

Mix in apples and pecans. Pour batter prepared pan. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until cake pulls away from the sides of the pan. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Yield: 12 servings

applecake

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pumpkincupcakes

Happy October everyone! It’s breast cancer awareness month!

Some of you know that Brandon and I recently moved to Charlotte, North Carolina. I accepted a temporary position with the American Cancer Society working on their Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk. For the last four months I’ve been recruiting teams for Making Strides and raising awareness about the event in our community.

Despite being event staff, our office still wanted to raise money for the event. We organized a bake sale the week before the walk and it was a huge hit in our building. Everyone was very excited about the goodies and about raising funds for breast cancer. We were so amazed by the generosity that was shown.

bakesaleteam

I decided to make pumpkin cupcakes to give everyone a little taste of fall. While researching recipes these Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting from Smitten Kitchen sounded awesome. They were delicious and received great feedback. I even had a co-worker ask for the recipe to make for Thanksgiving dessert.

Making Strides Against Breast Cancer was held on September 26 in Charlotte and I’m happy to report that we had over 4,000 walkers and raised over $265,000 for the fight against breast cancer! Making Strides Against Breast Cancer is held in communities nationwide. Check out the Web site here.

And here is the recipe for the pumpkin cupcakes…

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
(Recipe source Smitten Kitchen, who adapted the recipe from David Leite)

Ingredients:

FOR THE CAKE
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed dark-brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk mixed with 1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups canned solid-pack pumpkin (100% pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling)
Cupcake liners

FOR THE FROSTING
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup

Directions:

FOR THE CAKE
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pan with 18 liners.

In a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugars on medium speed until fluffy and lightened in color, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and salt salt in a medium bowl.

Reduce mixer speed to medium low and add eggs 1 at a time, scraping down the sides after each addition. Alternate adding the flour and milk mixtures, beginning and ending with the flour. Beat in the pumpkin until mixture is smooth. Fill cupcake liners about 3/4 full. Rap the filled pans once on the counter to release any air bubbles. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on racks completely before frosting.

FOR THE FROSTING
Beat all ingredients in a stand mixer on medium speed until fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Frost cupcakes.

Yield: 18 cupcakes

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pumpkinchocchipbar2

Every year at about this time the food blogging world goes crazy for pumpkin. Seriously…it’s everywhere, all everyone can talk about. I’m not quite in the fall mindset yet because a) I just love summer so much and all the fresh fruits and vegetables that come with it and b) it’s still 85 degrees here!

The big news this year is the canned pumpkin shortage in some parts of the country. I’ll admit that when I was at the grocery last weekend I couldn’t help but look to see if they had pumpkin in stock. Don’t worry – we’re fine here in Charlotte! No pumpkin shortage for us. I picked up a can and caved and decided to bake these Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars that I spotted from Martha Stewart.

I’ll admit, begrudgingly, that these were awesome – especially fresh out of the oven. They have a cake like texture and are very moist. They were great served warm with ice cream on top!

And I’ll also admit…you’ll be seeing another pumpkin post from me soon!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars
(Recipe heavily adapted from Martha Stewart)

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon pumpkin-pie spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1/4 cups brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup canned pumpkin puree (make sure you’re using 100% pumpkin and not pumpkin pie mix)
1 package (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9 x 13 baking dish by lining it with aluminum foil, shiny side down, leaving about a 1-inch overhang on the edges. Grease foil (I like to use the wrapper from the butter).

In a bowl, mix together flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugars on medium-high for about 3 minutes, until lightened in color and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla until just combined. Beat in pumpkin puree. Reduce speed to low and slowly mix in flour mixture until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips.

Pour batter into prepared pan and spread to ensure it’s even. Bake until the edges begin to pull away from the foil and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. About 35-40 minutes.

Let cool in pan. Once cool, lift foil from pan and cut squares.

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