Archive | June, 2013

10 Ways to Say I Care

29 Jun

Many of my posts are about desserts that are easy to make. Not this one. This one takes some real effort. Which is why I only make it occasionally. So occasionally…..that I think the last time I made it was almost two years ago. The ten layered cake.

I’m going to try something new here. I usually end up with WAY too many in-the-process pictures and I think collages would make it a little more interesting. Let me know what you think. ๐Ÿ™‚

Before I even began baking any layers, I mixed up two things: a LARGE bowl of cake batter (about 8 cups) and a batch of chocolate buttercream.

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Then I started the process of baking the layers. They must be very thin, so it’s extra important that they don’t stick to the pan. In order to be safe here, I cut out parchment paper circles to place in the bottom of my pie pans. I find pie pans the easiest to use for these cakes because I bake 6 layers at a time. I don’t have 6 round cake pans of the same size, and it only costs about $3 to get this many pie pans at the grocery store. ๐Ÿ™‚ Once the parchment rounds are cut, they need to be buttered and floured. Then in goes almost 1 cup of cake batter. It’s important to try to spread the batter evenly, although I’m not very good at this part. You’ll see in just a minute if you keep reading. ๐Ÿ™‚ Then fill your oven with these layers and they’ll be done in 15 minutes or less.

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While these were baking I made the cooked icing. You see, since the layers are to thin they can’t hold up to the thick buttercream. I’ll just be spreading that around the sides and top to make it look prettier. The layers need a very thin icing that’s made from boiling sugar, butter, cocoa, and evaporated milk.

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Once all of the layers were baked, I still had to wait a little while to use the cooked icing. It needs to cool after coming to a boil, and that takes quite some time. See what I mean about a lot of effort? Good thing I like my brother in law. He’s been talking about this cake for a few weeks so I wanted to make him one. But while the icing was cooling, I was thinking to myself, “Why couldn’t Wes like a different kind of cake the best?” ๐Ÿ™‚ But after the icing was nice and cool I started stacking the layers and pouring a little of the cooked icing between each layer. As it turns out, by the time you finish stacking 10 of these, even slightly uneven layers make a big difference. Who knew?!? ๐Ÿ™‚

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Once all of the layers were stacked, I spread the chocolate buttercream over the whole deal, so that it would look somewhat presentable. Got to do something since it turned out completely lopsided!!!! Good thing nobody in my family will care. ๐Ÿ™‚ But, if you look at it from a different angle, it’s COMPLETELY normal looking. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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As long as it’s not leaning so much that it falls over, I’m fine with it. This isn’t a cake I’ve ever been capable of making and looking nice. It looks crazy.
But it’s yummy.
So that’s ok.
Leaning or not, there are still 10 little layers nestled between chocolate icing and at the end of the day, that’s what I was aiming for. Now I think I’ll put off making another one of these for another year or so. ๐Ÿ˜›
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No Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

20 Jun

I’ve been making cookies like these for years now. I still remember helping my mom make them, in fact. We obviously were big fans of these cookies. The recipe she had for them was in one of those church-spiral-bound cookbooks, and the page where this treasure was printed is now stained with cocoa powder. ๐Ÿ™‚ Good sign. ๐Ÿ™‚
Somewhere along the way I lost my recipe for these.
No fear. Pinterest is here.
I found a recipe very similar to the one I’d always made, but it used chocolate chips instead of cocoa powder. Interesting. I happened to have chocolate chips handy. (Let’s not act surprised about that) I decided to give it a go. Just as easy, and delicious as the ones I’d always remembered. SO rich and chewy.

Heat a saucepan on medium and then add the following: 1 stick of butter, 1/2 cup of milk, and 2 cups of sugar. Stir as the butter melts and then continue cooking until boiling.

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Only allow to boil for 1 MINUTE and then remove from the heat. Immediately pout this into a bowl containing: 1 cup chocolate chips, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 3 cups of oats. As you stir the butter mixture in, the chocolate will be melted by the heat. It’s a beautiful thing. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Then just drop by spoonfuls onto wax paper to cool. These cookies took less than 15 minutes to make. If you want them to cool even faster, stick them in the fridge. In fact, I think they taste pretty good chilled. So even if you aren’t in a hurry (but why wouldn’t you be????) you might like them in the fridge anyways.

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Do you remember the last cookie recipe I posted? I took a cute picture of them next to a glass of milk….in front of a rainbow colored chevron pattern? Yeah, that one? I decided that I would start taking at least one cute picture of each recipe I make, because….let’s face it. Cute ones are just better than the picture of the process. While I was making these I was trying to think of what kind of cute background I would use for a picture. Then….not long after that I was sitting in the living room floor sharing the LAST cookie with Abigail. When I thought, “Oops! I was going to take a cute picture of these. Too late.” ๐Ÿ™‚ Oh well.I might have to make these again soon and experiment a little. The recipe I’d used in the past had a little bit of creamy peanut butter in it. Not enough to give the cookies a strong peanut butter flavor, but it did add a little bit of oomph to the cookies. Obviously, Abigail and I liked these cookies just fine too. ๐Ÿ™‚ But, I DO have another entire unopened jar of oats in the pantry. It would pretty much be terrible if I DIDN’T try making these cookies again, right? ๐Ÿ™‚

Brownie- Like Chocolate Cookies!

10 Jun

Iโ€™m starting to wonder how people kept up with all of the recipes they want to bake โ€œsomedayโ€ before Pinterest came along. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I do still have a huge 3 ring binder in my kitchen that is stuffed with recipes inside sheet protectors (to keep any chocolate/sugar/etc. off of the recipes). One section is full of recipes that I love, and one section is full of recipes that Iโ€™d like to try. Saved for another day. But those days arenโ€™t coming anytime soon, because when I want to bake something new, I donโ€™t reach for my 3 ring binder anymore. I log on to Pinterest. ๏Š These cookies are another example of a new interest of mine. Making things OTHER than cake with cake mix. Why do I like this idea? I still donโ€™t know. But I do.

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This recipe is slightly adapted from a Duncan Hines cookie recipe. Obviously, you can use any brand of cake mix that you like. Or whatever brand your grocery store has on sale. These cookies are easy, very chocolate-y, and when baked for the right amount of time stay very chewy. Which I love. Crunchy cookies, not so much.

You just need to add a few things to the cake mix to get the dough ready: 2 eggs, 1 stick of butter (melted), 1/4 cup of brown sugar, and 1 tsp. vanilla extract. Just stir it all together; no need to use a mixer.

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Then stir in ยฝ cup chocolate chips and 1 cup chopped pecans. If you decide not to use nuts, add in a full cup of chocolate chips.
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Stir that well, and drop by spoonfuls onto a baking sheet. Bake for 12 minutes at 350. Please note that these cookies spread. A. LOT. So donโ€™t place them too close together on the cookie sheet. I think they spread so much because of the melted butter.

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Let them cool for just a couple of minutes on the pan, and then move to a cooling rack. When youโ€™re moving them to the cooling rack, they will still seem almost like theyโ€™re going to fall apart. Thatโ€™s ok. You donโ€™t want to let them cook too long or theyโ€™ll be crunchy once they cool.

Last step, pour a nice glass of milk and enjoy. And not skim milk. Any Ron Swanson fans would know that skim milk is just waterโ€ฆ lying about being milk. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Pigs in the Mud Cake

1 Jun

This is one of those cakes that I’ve had my eye on for quite some time. I’d saved a picture of it from a cake website several months ago, but recently my mother in law shared the photo with me again on Facebook. I’d been meaning to get around to this but never did. Until Memorial Day. If you are interested in getting started with cake decorating and using fondant, this is a PERFECT beginning cake. It took little experience to form the piggies. If you can play with playdough and make figures that are semi-recognizable, you can do this. ๐Ÿ™‚

I did make the fondant figures the night before, to be sure that they hardened enough overnight. I used store bought fondant, a little pink food coloring, and shaped it into these pigs. I used a very thin strip of fondant and wrapped it around a toothpick to let it dry for the tails.
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I made ganache to use to ice this cake, but you could use other frosting. Ganache is easy and VERY rich. You have to heat heavy cream in a saucepan, being careful not to let it boil. Then pour it over chocoalte chips and stir until all of the chips are melted. It will get thicker as it sits, and boy is it tasty!

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Once it was thick enough I spread it on each layer of the cake and started attaching Kit Kat bars. Once they reach all of the way around the cake, they look like a barrell for the little pigs. That have been waiting on the kitchen table all day. Dangerously close to within reach of the 1 year old. They’ve been begging me to spare their lives.

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Placing the Kit Kats on while the icing is still moist helps to be sure that they stick to the sides. But a ribbon adds extra support, as well as looking cute. I had this left over from a batch of cake pops.

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Lastly, spoon a large helping of ganache on top of the cake to look like the “mud.” If you use other frosting, just make sure that it’s not too runny. You don’t want it to run through all of the kit kat bars. Then place the pigs on top! Yay. ๐Ÿ™‚
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