Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Life by Chocolate Cake

I have always wondered how far one could push the chocolate envelope when it comes to cake.  I will wonder no more as I think this cake is the most intense chocolate cake I have ever eaten, made, or experienced.  If you are a true die hard chocoholic then this cake is for you.

I originally found this recipe from the Betty Crocker website and made very few improvements, I'll share the things I tweaked to make this cake "my cake." Right after I made this cake I began to think of other things I could do to make a "white chocolate" version of this cake using strawberries.  Doesn't that sound great?  I think it does.

This cake is incredibly dense, the batter was super thick, but tender and moist after baking.  The pudding and sour cream help to make this so moist even beyond the first day.  I chose to use mini chips in the cake batter instead of the big chips and really liked the resulting texture it gave the cake.  Of course adding vanilla to any cake is a must for me, it just makes me feel better knowing that it is in there.  There is a lot going on in this cake however.

The glaze is really a whole other post!  It was like pouring fudge on the cake.  I wasn't too thin, or too thick.  I found that it rolled nicely down the side of the cake, and unlike other glazes, stayed on the cake and didn't just keep on rolling to the counter.  After it cools is becomes this fudgey, gooey, chocolate coating.

Hot Coffee or Milk is a must, it's the only two things that could possibly compliment this cake to make it better.  I think this cake would freeze great, however I would advise that you glaze the cake when you plan to serve it.  Only because I'm not sure how it would turn out.

box Betty Crocker® SuperMoist® butter recipe chocolate cake mix
cup chocolate milk with 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
cup butter, melted
container (8 oz) sour cream
package (4-serving size) chocolate instant pudding and pie filling mix
bag (12 oz) mini chocolate chips (2 cups)
Rich Chocolate Glaze
cup semisweet chocolate chips
tablespoons butter
tablespoons light corn syrup
1 1/2
teaspoons water

  1. Heat oven to 350°F.  Grease and lightly flour 12-cup fluted tube cake pan, or spray with baking spray with flour.
  2. In large bowl: mix cake mix, chocolate milk, butter, eggs, sour cream and dry pudding. Mix with hand held mixer until well blended, batter will be very thick. Stir in chocolate chips. Spoon into pan.  Make sure to spread the cake, evenly distributing it--it's THICK.
  3. Bake 56 to 64 minutes or until top springs back when touched lightly in center. Cool 10 minutes in pan. Turn pan upside down onto cooling rack or heatproof serving plate; remove pan. Cool completely, about 2 hours.
  4. In 1-quart saucepan, heat glaze ingredients over low heat, stirring frequently, until chocolate chips are melted and mixture is smooth. Drizzle over cake. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Sugar Cookie Bars

Yes, it's on an upside-down bowl.
I've never been one to just, "come up" with a new recipe out of thin air, I have to have inspiration and then reinvent or tweak it to my liking.  When I first caught wind of the idea of taking a sugar cookie and turning it into a bar I was all about that.  Turns out dozens of other cooks have has the very same idea, go figure.  I read about ten different recipes and finally decided on the recipe that I was going to tweak to make my own. Even if having a sugar cookie bars is not your idea of delicious, you will for sure want to try this buttercream frosting.  I haven't had a better buttercream--ever!

My son, Titus, helped me make these bars, up to the point of frosting, for our church community group meeting.  It's great fun to have your kids help you cook, and they get to learn all about fractions and following instructions...so much to learn from being in the kitchen and cooking.  He's quite the cook, I'm very proud of him.  The bars come together quick and bake even faster.  One lesson I've learned is not to wait for these bars to get dark on top.  These bars cooked in 10 minutes.  I didn't really get a stop watch and keep time, but I would say that from mixing to frosting it was maybe 45 minutes to an hour.

These bars are very versatile in that you could add your favorite extract, or citrus zest and create a whole new bar.  The frosting could be tinted to any shade you wanted.  I chose to go with the  plain white and used the really cool crystal sugar, which of course could be any color available.

The cookie is tender and moist with a very "sugar cookie" taste, only thicker.  How bad can that be?  The buttercream frosting is just to die for.  Creamy and sweet with that ever so slight salt that cuts through the sweetness of the frosting.  There were some parts of the bar where the frosting was as thick as the bar itself! Don't get me wrong, I love frosting as much as the next guy, but I should try to do a better job of spreading the love next time.

1 cup salted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking soda

For the frosting:
1 cup butter, at room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
5 tbsp. milk
Food coloring (optional)

To make the cookies, preheat the oven to 350˚ F.   Spray a jelly roll pan with non-stick cooking spray (the size will vary) Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Beat on medium-high speed until light and smooth, about 2 minutes.  Mix in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Add the extracts, mixing to combine.  Add the dry ingredients to the mixer bowl and beat on low speed just until incorporated.  It's easier to add all the dry ingredients to another bowl and stir them together, but if you don't feel like getting another bowl dirty then just add the salt, baking powder, and flour.

Transfer the cookie dough to the prepared baking sheet and press into an even layer. I got a paper towel wet and kept my fingers moist, not wet, to keep the dough from sticking to my fingers. Bake 10-15 minutes, until light golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting, place the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Beat on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1 minute.  Blend in the vanilla, salt, and confectioners' sugar until smooth, 1-2 minutes.  Mix in the milk.  Tint as desired with food coloring.  Spread over the cookie in the pan, sprinkle with the sugar and  cut into bars and serve.

Ice cold milk or hot coffee is a very necessary accessory.