In the Kitchen: Chocolate Cake with Cookie Butter Glaze

I can’t believe I never told you about this cake. I made it for a New Year’s Eve brunch-time viewing of Doctor Who with a couple friends. I took pictures. I partially wrote about it in my head. And then… well then the semester that took over my life happened. But the semester is now over (YAY!) and I’m on what will probably be an all-too-brief summer break.

So, the cake. I found it via Shannon, who got the recipe from The First Mess.

chocolate cake

This cake, it was delicious. Perfect for a small gathering. I used regular all-purpose and whole-wheat flours. After glazing (I used Trader Joe’s Cookie Butter in my glaze),  I topped mine with toasted coconut, mini chocolate chips, and chopped pecans.

In the background, you can see the reality that is my kitchen. It’s small, too small for someone who bakes as often as I do (and recently made smaller by the addition of a hand-me-down stand mixer. I have gladly given up counter space for it, as it means I can make cupcakes and frostings without mixing my arm off using a handheld mixer). But that means it’s messy. All the mixing and prep work occurs in the small stretch of counter between my stove and the sink.

chocolate cake

Usually I try to take my pictures elsewhere in the apartment – like the table that doubles as a desk and craft area, but I wanted to share reality with these photos for some reason. The cake is simple, so it seemed like a good idea. Baking produces things that are delicious, but it’s definitely not tidy.

But you should try this cake, tiny kitchen or not.

In the Kitchen: Coconut Pecan Frosting

coconut pecan frosting

Christmas falling on a Wednesday this year has put a kink into my weekly plans. That means there are TWO weeks in a row that we won’t have our normal knit night because the shop is closed for the holiday. TWO WEEKS.

So, because of that, I made Monica’s birthday cupcakes a full week before what would typically be her pre-birthday knit night. I decided to go with German Chocolate because they are delicious.

I’ve always used the can o’frosting when I’ve made German Chocolate cupcakes in the past, but this time found myself short a can. Since I didn’t have time to run back out to the store, I decided to see if I could make it with stuff I already had at home. The answer to that is YES.

My not-so-secret recipe for the cupcakes is here. And if you make the frosting recipe before the cupcakes, there is enough of it to frost 24 cupcakes and to use as the secret ingredient in your cake.

Frosting cupcakes.
As for the frosting? The recipe came from Country Living & can be found here. It was not hard to make – I set a timer for 10 minutes to stir & cook everything together. Just make sure you have a big enough pot (I tried to use a smaller sauce pan & it bubbled up too much – I had to switch to a bigger pot halfway through).

This frosting was really delicious – more so than my fall back canned frosting. I wish I’d had smaller pecan bits, but they still worked out just fine – I just couldn’t pipe the frosting on like I usually do. I used my small cookie scoop to measure out a dollop of frosting, then spread it with a spatula. I would definitely make this again.

In the Kitchen: Swiss Buttercream Frosting

I mentioned in the previous post that I made Swiss Buttercream for the first time for the Chocolate Chai Spice Cupcakes.

Swiss Buttercream

I had wondered for a while why some buttercreams were smooth and glossy and gorgeous, while also being delicious, but not overly sweet. Like the one found on the Snack Cake cupcake from Sarah’s Cake Stop. Well, one night we were munching on friend (and pastry chef) Lauren’s cupcakes, which also had the delicious frosting & Lauren said it was a Swiss Buttercream. I knew then that I needed to try to make this frosting.

Fast forward 6 months and I decided to try it out for our 12 days of Christmas at work.

I will warn you – this post will reveal the amount of butter I used to frost 24 cupcakes. Turn back if you don’t want to know.

Swiss Buttercream

I started out with the Swiss Buttecream frosting recipe from Smitten Kitchen, modifying it ever so slightly because I don’t know how much frosting for a cake translates to cupcakes, but didn’t want leftover. So, to generously frost 24 cupcakes, I did a batch & a half of the 9 inch cake recipe & it was the perfect amount. (Since my cupcake recipe makes like 2 1/2 dozen, I ran out. But that’s not likely to happen if you do have 24-25 cupcakes).

I’ll detail my ingredient list here since I already did the math & it worked out perfectly, but check the linked post for the rest of the directions:
1 1/2 cup sugar
6 large egg whites
5 sticks butter, softened (1 1/4 pounds)
1.5 teaspoon vanilla extract

Additionally, I threw in a couple teaspoons of the Chai Spice mix to mine. Get crazy, folks.

Now, you will notice that this recipe requires a lot of beating with an electric mixer. This can be done without a stand mixer (as I still don’t have one yet – SOMEDAY THE KITCHENAID WILL BE MINE), but I do not recommend it. I have a handheld electric mixer & it took a while for this to come together. My arms were SORE by the end. But there is a magical moment where it goes from “OMG this will NEVER be frosting” to “FROSTING!”. It was pretty cool to see.

Day 22/30: Pecan Pie for Friendsgiving

Day 16:30 Pecan Pie

I think I already mentioned that I went to a Friendsgiving feast last weekend. I decided that I would bring along a Pecan Pie because I hadn’t made one before & wanted to give it a try.

For some reason, I thought that pecan pies were hard to make. I have this memory of my mom liking them, but rarely making one, so maybe that’s where it comes from. I don’t really know – I just know that I thought this would be harder than it was.

I need to point out that I don’t make my own pie crust. It’s something I plan to conquer someday, but for now my kitchen is not big enough – I don’t have enough counter space to even roll out a little bit of pie crust, much less a piece big enough for a full sized pie. So that automatically makes pie making easier.

Anyway, I went with the recipe off the back of the Karo Corn Syrup bottle. I did a quick search online & it had good reviews, so I went with it. You can find it online here, so I won’t go repeating it. I used light corn syrup for mine.

Pecan Pie
I did not do so great getting the first piece out of the pan, but it was still tasty.

So, my first pecan pie was a success & I would definitely make this again. There’s a version I found with cranberries in it that sounds delicious. I’m also tempted by the idea of tossing some chocolate chips into the mix (thanks to a recent visit to Cracker Barrel where they had a chocolate pecan pie).

Day 21/30: In the Kitchen: French Toast & Bacon Cupcakes.

Friend Siri had a birthday recently, so I brought cupcakes to knit group for her a couple Sundays ago.

She found this recipe for French Toast & Bacon Cupcakes last year, but I didn’t make them for her then. I don’t like having to watch videos where people tell me how to cook something – write it all down & I’m all over it, but post a video and I just don’t wanna.*

French Toast & Bacon Cupcakes

So instead of these, I made her banana nut muffins for her birthday last year and we were all happy. But this year I decided to give the video cupcakes a try. You can get the original instructions below.

I followed his directions, but I think something gets lost in the translastion from a British kitchen to an American kitchen. The candied bacon was amazing, but the frosting was not my favorite & the cupcakes were a bit on the dry side. The flavor was good, they just needed some tweaking. If you go right from the video, I would definitely err on the lower side of the cooking time & see if that helps.

I can see revisiting this recipe sometime when I have a little time to play around with it.

*I also don’t watch or listen to podcasts & can’t deal with audiobooks because I read faster than people talk and even my most favorite books are not immune from my wrath when it takes me 12 hours to listen to a book I can read in 2. GET TO THE POINT ALREADY.