Triple Chocolate Candy Cane Cake

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My local newspaper is looking for recipes for this year’s Christmas publications. Specifically recipes for baked goods. So I decided I needed to contribute to this with one of my desserts. The problem is that most of my recipes aren’t MY recipes. So I was racking my brain trying to think of something I could make my own. Then I remembered last year on New Year’s Eve, I had to work until sometime in the evening, so I decided to make a cake and bring it to work for those of us unfortunate enough to have to work late that night. My husband had to work late too (the joy of call centres!), so I made one for him to bring in too. I just used a boxed cake mix adding a bit of mint extract, and used two round pans, putting one layer on each plate, and putting a chocolate glaze and candy cane bits on top. Easy, not too big, and delicious!

So I decided to submit something like that to the newspaper. However, while boxed cake mix has its place, it is not in a cookbook or other publication. At least not with my name beside it!

Instead, I searched online for a recipe that I could use as a base for my recipe. I found something, and worked with that recipe. And I wasn’t sure what to put in the middle of the two layers, if I should have two layers at all, or if I should go with a rectangular cake. So I looked up chocolate cake fillings and found a recipe that I could alter to make a chocolate buttercream. And it is delicious!

Here’s what I came up with:

Cake

2 cups white sugar

1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup cocoa powder

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

1 ½ teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 cup milk or chocolate milk

½ cup vegetable oil

1 square semi-sweet chocolate, melted

1 teaspoon mint extract

1 cup boiling water

Cake Ingredients

Filling (Chocolate Buttercream Frosting)

2 squares semi-sweet chocolate

¼ cup butter

4 cups icing sugar

1/3 cup light cream

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 candy canes, crushed

Filling Ingredients

Chocolate Glaze and Topping

4 squares semi-sweet chocolate

¼ cup butter

2 candy canes, crushed

Glaze Ingredients

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 8 inch round cake pans.
  2. Combine all dry ingredients for the cake. Add all the wet ingredients except the water and combine and mix for two minutes. Add the boiling water. This will make a very runny batter.
  3. Pour the batter evenly into the two pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  4. Cool the cakes in the pans for 10 minutes, then transfer to wire racks and cool completely.
  5. While the cakes are cooling, melt the chocolate for the filling in the microwave. Heat for about 1 ½ minutes and stir to finish the melting process. If necessary, put the chocolate in for longer, taking out and stirring every 30 seconds until completely melted. Let the chocolate cool.
  6. While the first batch of chocolate is cooling, make the glaze by melting the 4 squares of semi-sweet chocolate with the ¼ cup of butter using the same method as above. Let the glaze cool.
  7. Beat the ¼ cup of butter for the filling until soft and fluffy. Beat in the icing sugar and cream slowly, alternating. Beat in the vanilla and then chocolate until fully combined.
  8. Stir the candy cane pieces for the filling into the frosting.
  9. Once the cakes are cool, place one, top-side down, onto the serving plate. Spread the filling on top, being careful not to let it overflow, but completely cover the cake. Place the second cake, also top-side down, on top of the filling.
  10. SLOWLY ladle the chocolate glaze over top of the cake. Wait a minute for it to set slightly, and then sprinkle the remaining candy cane pieces over the top.
  11. Let cool for at least 30 minutes before serving.
This cake was deadly good! I’ll make it again for any event I’m invited to! Delicious!

Delicious Final Product

Happy Cooking!

I received word from the newspaper that my recipe WILL be featured on December 1. If there is a link to it online through them, I’ll post that then!

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Chocolate Cluster-Peanut Butter Cake

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I had some friends over for an end of summer barbeque on Saturday, and I always make my own desserts, and I try to make almost everything from scratch. I made a nacho dip, spinach dip, potato salad, and coleslaw, all recipes that I’ve made before. My husband made homemade burgers for the first time for the people that eat them (not me). But I needed to try something new. So I went with dessert.

I’ve always had a lot of success with recipes on www.Kraft.ca, so I browsed that site for something potentially delicious that would be pretty easy too. I didn’t want something too complicated as I knew I would be making several other things in addition to be cleaning the house on Saturday before my friends came over.

What I found was a Chocolate Cluster-Peanut Butter Cake. It was pretty easy. And the ingredients aren’t terribly exotic or hard to find or
anything. In fact the only things that I didn’t have on hand were enough eggs and the Cool Whip.  I always have peanut butter, milk, and oil at home. And I had bought some cake mixes and pudding mixes when they were on sale a little while ago, and bought some peanuts for a rice pilaf I made a few weeks ago that was terrible.

Ingredients

So this recipe met all of my major requirements – easy, tasty, delicious, and cheap!

I’ve frosted quite a few cakes in my days, and I know that I always make a terrible mess of things when I do, so I’ve learned a trick. I always put a few pieces of wax paper underneath after I put the cake down that I can just pull out out once I’m done. That way I can get the icing all over the place and it still looks like I didn’t afterwards. As you can see below, I can make quite the mess at times.

Icing the Cake

I especially liked the little nut cluster garnishes. Quite cute and it gave it character.

The only thing I would do differently next time would be to wait a little longer to frost it. I frosted it about 2 hours before everyone came, and before they even got here, the clusters were falling off. So I just moved them and put them closer to the top. Easy fix!

Yummy Cake!

And I was right, this was spectacular! I would absolutely make this again!

Happy Cooking!

Chocolate Shortcake

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I went to a friend’s house yesterday for a pool party.Earlier in the week, I had been browsing the Kraft website for new recipes, and
I found one that looked excellent for a Brownie Shortcake Dessert. I figured this would be an excellent chance to give it a shot! And I’m glad I did!

 

Ingredients

The recipe calls for the following ingredients:

1 pkg. (450 g) brownie mix

1 cup sour cream, divided

1 cup thawed Cool Whip Whipped Topping, divided

1 Tbsp. powdered sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

1-1/2 cups sliced fresh strawberries

3 kiwis, peeled, sliced

 

So I went shopping for all the ingredients. The store I was at had strawberries there, but they all looked positively terrible! Mouldy,
soggy, bruised. Overall, nasty. So I made the executive decision to use raspberries instead. The raspberries looked much better. And they were good raspberries.

 

And I thought this recipe required cream cheese for some reason, so when I took the picture with all the ingredients, I took the cream cheese out. I was wrong.  I bought it for an onion tart I’m making later this week, so you can expect to see that same
tub in another picture in a few days!

 

So I got up Saturday morning and followed the direction for the brownie, and baked it before breakfast. When I took it out of the oven, after letting it cool for a few minutes, I took it out of the pan and put it on a rack, as per the recipe. But I didn’t like how thin it looked. I have a bit of an unsteady hand, and thought that when I would cut it in half to make the layers, I would brutalize it and have brownie crumbs. When I was mixing together the filling, I kept on looking over to eye it up. And when I was cutting the
kiwis, I would peek over to see if I could catch it growing or something, to make my life easier. No such luck. When the time came, I started to try to cut it in half, and I knew where it was going. It was going to tears.

 

Thin Brownie

So I cut my losses, busted out a spare cake mix from the cupboard, and went to town making a chocolate cake, using two 9 inch cake pans!

 

And I even effed that up! I figured since I was making something very similar to what I had just finished making, chocolate brownies to chocolate cake, I wouldn’t bother washing the pan out, and just spray it with more Pam. Oops. One of the halves of the cake stuck to the pan. So I just used the one layer that worked and cut it in half. I guess because it was softer and thicker than the brownie, I definitely did much better with the slice.

 

Everyone at the party loved it! One person who claimed he doesn’t eat desserts even went back for seconds! So I wouldn’t make this with the brownie again, but I would make it with the cake!

 

Final Product

Happy Cooking!

Chocolate Chip Waffles and Strawberry Sauce

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Ready to Eat

This Saturday morning is a rainy gloomy one. And what better way to pick up the day than to start it with a delicious breakfast? I have a certain disdain for breakfast lately, so I asked my husband what he wanted me to make for breakfast this morning. His response: “Chocolate chip waffles and strawberry sauce!” And evidently his wish is my command… At least for breakfast today!

 

I wanted to try a new waffle recipe, and I actually had some fresh(ish) strawberries in the fridge that I needed to use up.

 

I googled “chocolate chip waffle recipe” and came up with a few good recipes. I don’t have any buttermilk, so I went with the first one that doesn’t require any: Chocolate Chip Waffles.

 

Waffle Ingredients

I only made very few minor substitutions. I didn’t have and cooking spray (Pam), so I used olive oil and a brush; I didn’t have enough butter, so I added some margarine; and I didn’t have any mini chocolate chips, so I just used regular ones. These waffles turned out great though!

 

Egg Whites

I think the key is probably in whipping the egg whites into submission! The above picture is what the 3 egg whites looked like all whipped up with the ¼ cup of sugar. This incorporates air and makes them light and fluffy!

 

Waffle Batter

For the Strawberry Sauce, I used three very simple ingredients:

  • Fresh Strawberries
  • Orange Punch
  • Sugar

Sauce Ingredients

I just sliced the strawberries and put them in a pot over medium heat. Then I added a splash of orange punch – probably no more than ¼ – ½ cup, and 2 tablespoons of sugar and stirred.

 

Cooking Sauce

I brought it up to a boil and let it cook and reduce for about 10 minutes, and then reduced the heat to low when it was the consistency I wanted, stirring occasionally.

 

Finished Sauce

Homemade berry sauces are so easy to make, I don’t know why someone would buy one! Even if you don’t have fresh berries, frozen berries can be used too.

Waffles without sauce

 

This must have been a great breakfast, because after his first bite, my husband exclaimed “Oh yea!” And when I finished, I said that I would actually pay for this breakfast. Big words from me!

 

Happy Cooking!

Ginger Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake

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It was my husband’s birthday on Sunday and I asked him a week in advance what he would like me to make for his birthday dessert. I know it’s typical for people to have a birthday CAKE, but we’re not necessarily that kind of couple. Don’t get me wrong – if he asked for a cake, I would have baked the hell out of a cake! In the past, I’ve made him an Oreo cake, a chocolate peanut butter pie, I tried a chocolate peanut butter cake, and last year I even made three desserts – brownies, a Layered Strawberry Cheesecake Bowl, and the Oreo cake again. This year he asked for a cherry cheesecake!

Cherry Chocolate Cheesecake

I wanted something a little different than just an ordinary cheesecake, so I suggested a chocolate cherry cheesecake! I saw the recipe for a ginger chocolate cheesecake in my new Gordon Ramsay cookbook, and I was dying to try it! I just changed his suggestion for garnishes and toppings and used canned cherry pie filing. I figured it would work – something like a Black Forest cheesecake.

Gordon Ramsay's Family Fare

I quite enjoyed it!

Recipe

So I busted out my trusty cookbook and made my grocery list. I actually had to google one of the ingredients though – fromage frais. I had never heard of it before and I wasn’t sure that I would be able to find it at the grocery store. Wikipedia says “Fromage frais is a creamy soft cheese made with whole or skimmed milk and cream. It has the consistency of cream cheese, but with fewer calories and less cholesterol. Where available, low-fat cream cheese is an acceptable substitute for fromage frais.”

I looked for fromage frais, but no luck, so low fat cream cheese it was!

Ingredients

Procedure

I couldn’t find chocolate with ginger in it either, so I just used regular chocolate. Two good quality bars – one was a milk chocolate and one was a dark chocolate. I mixed them and melted them with a double boiler to make a bittersweetish chocolate. Probably not exactly the same, but I was in the chocolate bar section of the store and didn’t want to go back to the baking section and I couldn’t find a bittersweet chocolate bar.

Double Boiler

Overall, I think it turned out pretty good!

Yum!

The only complaint any one had out of the 11 people that tried it was that it was too gingery. And I didn’t even put as much ginger as suggested!

I liked it. I’d never tried a mascarpone cheesecake before, and I liked it. The texture was a little bit different than the cheesecakes that I normally make, but I think this was better. I find mine are either too runny or they crack. This was solid and uncracked. And I didn’t even use a bain marie!

I’ll make it again!

Happy Cooking!

Carrot Cheese Muffins

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About two years ago, my husband suddenly lost a lot of weight. Roughly 50-70 pounds in about 3ish months. Everybody’s dream, right? Wrong. He was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. (Damn you Swedish Berries!)  Fortunately, it was caught really early, and it’s not too bad. He can control it with diet and exercise and he only needs to test his blood once a day, most days. If it’s really high or really low, he’ll check it more than that, but it’s not too bad. When he was diagnosed, I didn’t know what we were going to do about food. Between my vegetarianism, his diabetes, and his pickiness towards vegetables, I thought we were going to starve! So I bought a few diabetic cookbooks. Some recipes are pretty good, some not so much.

Company's Coming diabetic dinners

One book that I have is Company’s Coming diabetic dinners. I made this Carrot Cheese Muffin recipe probably over a year ago, and I recalled it being pretty good. As you may know, I have an interesting relationship with breakfast. I didn’t feel like waffles or pancakes, so this morning, I decided I would make these muffins for breakfast.

Recipe

Yum!

Shredded Carrots

The recipe calls for a cup of shredded carrots. I usually only buy baby carrots, and that’s what I had in the house today. If I recall
correctly, last time I made it, I had baby carrots and tried to shred them with my food processor, with less than ideal results. So I decided I would grate the carrots by hand today. I’ve now decided that I am never making these muffins again, unless I have big carrots! It took me FOREVER to shred a cup of carrots, and I got numerous hand cramps. So no more shredded baby carrots.

And I didn’t have any ginger, so I didn’t add any ginger.

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But overall, these were very good muffins, and I would make them again. Assuming that I have big carrots!

All Done

And it only took about 30 minutes to make, after shredding those damn carrots!

On The Plate

Happy Cooking!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies

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I actually made these cookies last week on Friday but I’ve been too busy to update. My husband was still hungry after dinner so I offered to make a cake. He looked at me like I had a third eye, so I downgraded to offer to cookies. He said that he would like double chocolate cookies. I was out of chocolate chips but I did have peanut butter chips. I found the following recipe online and thought I’d give it a shot!

http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/chocolate-chocolate-chip-cookies-i/Detail.aspx

I quite liked them!

I didn’t have enough peanut butter chips to sub for the chocolate chips, so I used about 1 cup of them and 1 cup of walnuts.

Mixing the dough

Also, I ran out of white flour so I used 1/2 cup of whole wheat instead.

They were soft and cakey and I really liked them! My husband did too!

Ready for the oven

Then my mom came over the next day and had one. She asked if they were diet cookies. Apparently they’re not for everybody, but I would make them again!

Ready to eat

Happy cooking!

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