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.

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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 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.

In the Kitchen: Bacon Fest 2009, the recipes.

In an attempt to get all my recipes and cooking talk in one place, I’ll be periodically re-posting recipes from my time writing on the Kitchen Mirror here. In some cases I may update pictures & proof-read, but for the most part it will just be a re-posting of what I had there. The posts are not in chronological order – I’m trying to post holiday appropriate recipes near the holidays they go with & fill in others around them.

Originally posted on July 1, 2009.

I actually wrote about Bacon Fest here after it happened – I got some mileage out of this one. And we STILL talk about it at Knit Night to this day. There is something to be said for Bacon Overload.

I actually have a couple of food related things to talk about, but as I have just returned home from a bacon-tastic knit night, we’ll start with my bacon-themed foods.

Bacon-fest came about somehow last Wednesday at knit night and once plans were finalized, I said “I’ll bring Pig Candy!” Which was the plan until the weekend when I was trying to fall asleep & could not get my brain to stop working. At some point, one of my thoughts was peanut butter & banana bread pudding topped with pig candy. I figured it was either one of the worst ideas ever or one of the best, but I couldn’t decide which.
Believe it or not, it actually worked. So I give you Elvis Bread Pudding. I started with a basic bread pudding recipe and (obviously) modified it heavily to get the final result.

Peanut Butter & Banana Bread Pudding
This is the single serve portion I baked with the 9×13 pan. There was no way I was serving this without trying it first.

Ingredients:

1lb sweet white bread (I used a local store brand’s “sweet mini loaves”)
2 cups milk (nonfat is fine)
3 cups fat free half-and-half
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
3 eggs beaten
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter, melted*
2 bananas, sliced
3 pieces pig candy (see recipe below) or 3 pieces crispy bacon crumbled & extra brown sugar for dusting
*Do not make my mistake and heat this in the jar unless you’re sure that all the foil from the top has been removed. I swear, sometimes we can make the simplest mistakes while cooking. Also, this step just makes it easier to mix the peanut butter into everything else.
Preheat the oven to 350 (if you make the pig candy first, your oven will already be at 350).
Tear or cut bread into chunks. Place into large bowl & pour half & half and milk over the bread. Let soak for at least 10 minutes (I probably went 20). Add the sliced bananas to the bread mixture & stir. Beat eggs in small bowl & then stir in your peanut butter (you want to make sure the peanut butter isn’t going to clump up when you add it to the bread mixture). Add the egg/peanut butter stuff & your sugars to the bread mixture and mix well.
Pour the mix into a 9×13 pan (I would probably recommend a little nonstick cooking spray first). Sprinkle crumbled pig candy or bacon & sugar on top.
Bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes until pudding is firm (it will still be quite moist, though).
Pig Candy*

Pig Candy

1 lb bacon
dark brown sugar
Coat bacon in brown sugar. Place on racks over a foil-lined cookie sheet and bake at 350 until crispy (about 20 minutes). Remove from oven, let cool BRIEFLY & then remove to waxed paper. Otherwise it will stick to the racks.
*I don’t know if it’s worth the trouble, really. My entire apartment still smells like brown sugar coated bacon. And have you ever tried to coat bacon in brown sugar? It’s not as easy as it sounds – the sugar doesn’t want to stick.
If you want to include bacon in the Elvis Bread Pudding, just crumble up some nice crispy pieces & then sprinkle them over the top. Dust the top with brown sugar and voila. Same difference.
As for the rest of the bacon-themed dishes for the potluck? There were many and they were delicious.

Bacon-fest

I’m going to go have a little bacon induced heart attack now.