Chocolate Cake for Father’s Day

June 21, 2011

Perfectly Moist Chocolate Cake

My husband got to pick whatever he wanted for dessert on Father’s Day. The top two choices were rhubarb pie, and chocolate cake. The rhubarb in our back yard is thriving so I was a little surprised that he chose cake over pie, but I wasn’t disappointed. We haven’t had chocolate cake in a while and it sounded good to me too.

It was just the two of us so I didn’t want a big cake. I wanted to try a new recipe but I wasn’t looking for something over the top. I knew my husband would be happiest with something simple, tasty and homemade. I found the perfect recipe at Cookie Madness. Anna frequently makes small batch desserts and has great lists of favorites so I often turn to her blog to find recipes instead of opening up one of my many cookbooks.

This cake is baked in an eight inch square pan. A really nice size for a small family. It’s made with mayonnaise which makes the cake very moist. The depth of the chocolate was just right, and it’s super easy to make. You can stir it up with a spoon which is a real plus! We chose vanilla frosting for the cake since we can’t remember the last time we had vanilla frosting on chocolate cake. We were both happy with the frosting too. It is super smooth and isn’t too sweet with the cake.

I don’t know if it made a difference in taste or not because I’d have to do a tasting side by side, but for the first time ever I bought Ghiradelli natural cocoa powder to use in the cake. Hershey’s is the natural cocoa you’ll usually find in my cupboard, but the Ghiradelli seems really good. The thing that was particularly noticeable about the Ghiradelli cocoa is how perfectly smooth it is. There wasn’t a lump to be found!

If you’re looking for a quick, easy to make, moist chocolate cake, I highly recommend that you give this recipe a try.

Be sure to check out the original post where Anna talked about the cake, and made a scrumptious looking chocolate sour cream frosting instead of vanilla.

Troy Chocolate Cake (Adapted with permission from Cookie Madness)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup natural cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 cups flour
3/4 cups lukewarm water

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Spray an 8×8 inch pan with cooking spray. Use a spoon to combine the first 4 ingredients in a bowl. Sift the dry ingredients together. Add the dry ingredients and the water to the mayonnaise mixture. Beat until well blended. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.
Cool completely before frosting

Easy Vanilla Frosting

5 T softened butter
1 1/4 c. (5 oz.) powdered sugar
pinch of salt
1 T cream
1 t vanilla

Using a hand held mixer, beat the softened butter until very smooth. Add the powdered sugar and mix until moistened with the butter. Beat in the cream and vanilla and continue beating until light and fluffy. Spread on all sides of cooled cake.

Tate’s Bakeshop Chocolate Chip Cookies

May 28, 2011

Tate's Bakeshop Chocolate Chip Cookies

When I hunted down this recipe my intention was to make the cookies so that I could use them in Ina Garten’s Mocha Chocolate Icebox Cake. I was going to serve it for dessert with friends, but once I made the cookies I realized that the cookies were too good to bury in icebox cake. No doubt the cake would have been good, but it’s hard to believe we would have enjoyed it more than we enjoyed the cookies.

The cookies are thin, buttery, and crispy. Normally I like to bake cookies on air bake cookie sheets, but these turn out best if you use non-insulated cookie sheets. I’ve never had an actual Tate’s cookie so I can’t compare these to the original but we thought these were fantastic.

The recipe is available numerous places on the web including  Cookie Madness and Wives with Knives.

Carrot Bread

April 6, 2011

Sliced

Last night after dinner I wanted to bake. It wasn’t that I wanted a specific food, I just wanted to bake. The problem was that without wanting something specific it was difficult to settle on a recipe. Another hurdle was finding a recipe that used ingredients that I had on hand.  The final factor was I didn’t want three dozen cookies or an entire cake. I decided to log onto Cookie Madness to see if anything would grab me. The first thing I did was go to the section “Scaled Down Recipes”.  This carrot bread recipe was the first recipe that I saw and I had all the ingredients!

The bread is baked in two 3″x5″ loaf pans.  Just perfect for a household of two! The batter rises to make a nice dome, and the top has just a bit of crust. The slight crustiness might be my favorite part of the bread. Nuts, carrots, and spices on the moist inside. What’s not to like?

No mixer is required, but you do have to grate some carrots. Otherwise this comes together really fast. I chose not to make the icing and I don’t really think it needs it unless you’re looking for more of a carrot cake like experience. This worked well for me since I wasn’t looking for something super sweet.

You can find the recipe here.

American Style Vanilla Biscotti

March 8, 2011

Vanilla Biscotti

A few days ago I mentioned that I had come across two wonderful biscotti recipes. Today I’m writing about the second of those two recipes. Before I start talking about this particular biscotti I want to say that biscotti are no more difficult to make than drop cookies, and in some ways they’re easier because you can do more multi-tasking during their longer bake cycles.

These cookies aren’t the classic super hard biscotti. They’re crispy and great for dunking… or eating straight up if you don’t like to dunk.  I’ve made them with and without add ins, but I have to say that I’ve decided I like them best with no more than the flavor of vanilla. That said, I haven’t tried them with anise, and I think these might be a really good place for anise.

Tea time!

The recipe comes from the King Arthur Flour website. If you’re a novice biscotti baker you might want to check out the blog where PJ Hamel wrote about them. There are step by step photos that you might find helpful. One of the tips I like best is where you spray the baked log lightly with room temperature water before slicing the log into cookies.  This really seems to help in the quest for nice clean cuts.

The recipe with tips and variations can be found here. One more tip I’d like to share with you is that if you have vanilla bean paste this is a great place to use it in place of the regular vanilla. There’s something wonderful about those vanilla bean specks. I used Nielsen-Massey Pure Vanilla Bean Paste, which I ordered from King Arthur Flour.

If you love vanilla bean paste, here’s another good recipe where it really shines. Vanilla Ice Cream

Apricot-Orange Shortbread Bars

March 7, 2011

Apricot Orange Shortbread Bars

If I could only have one cookie for the rest of my life this might be the one. Statements like that are so melodramatic but it manages to convey how much I love these bars. Prior to eating one of these I might have told you I don’t like apricots. Ha! That’s obviously not true! I would have said yes, I like shortbread, and I adore anything almond. What I’ve learned is that the three together are a heavenly combination.

I used to use only Hero brand apricot preserves for these, but I’ve discovered that there is something different about those preserves and they aren’t as good as they used to be. My recommendation for preserves is to choose a brand with the least number of ingredients on the label, and more fruit than sugar if possible. These bars were made with Bonne Maman French preserves. Next fall when the apricots are plentiful I’m hoping I can find the time to make my own. The Bonne Maman preserves are wonderful, but as much as I like them I’d like to figure out a less expensive alternative.

This recipe can be found at Epicurious.

Chocolate Surprise Cookies

March 6, 2011

Chocolate Surprise Cookies

I’ve wanted to try these cookies for a few years because they look a little like my grandma’s chocolate sundae cookies. There are two things I liked about these. The first is the frosting. It has a nice flow to it when you frost the cookies and it sets so that when you hold the cookie your hands don’t get sticky. The frosting also happens to taste good.

The second thing I like about this recipe is that the cookies are baked until firm and then a marshmallow half is place on the cookie while it’s still warm and then returned to the oven for 2 minutes more. When the cookies are removed from the oven you gently press down on the warm marshmallow to flatten it slightly. This makes the marshmallow cover the cookie a little more making them easier to frost, and you get a better marshmallow to cookie ratio as you eat them.

I added some chopped maraschino cherries to the dough to make them more like the chocolate sundae cookies. The first day I thought I liked these cookies better than the chocolate sundae cookies, but by the second day the texture wasn’t as good as the first day and I decided to stick with the chocolate sundae cookie recipe. I will use this frosting and I like the idea of flattening the warm marshmallows.

The recipe is from Martha Stewart. You can find it here.

Gingerbread Biscotti

March 5, 2011

I have recently stumbled upon a couple of really great biscotti recipes and today I’m sharing the bolder one of the two. This is the cookie I wish I could keep on hand at all times, and I could if my husband and I could only keep our hands out of the cookie jar. It has a satisfying crunch and a mouthful of flavor. It’s firm but not too hard, and has chunks of crystallized ginger. You can dunk it in your afternoon tea or coffee if you’d like, but you’ll enjoy it even if you’re not a dunker. With no eggs or butter you can even keep it vegan to share with your vegan friends if you use a non-dairy milk like almond milk. The recipe appears several places on the Internet. It was of course brought to my attention at Cookie Madness. You can see Anna’s post and the recipe here.

The first time I made them I used regular dairy milk, but next time I’m going to try almond milk.

Gingerbread biscotti

These are excellent and I won’t be limiting them to fall or holiday baking. I love ginger and think it’s a flavor to be enjoyed year round.

Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes

February 20, 2011

The Ultimate Chocolate Cupcake

This is easily my favorite cupcake ever. Generally speaking cupcakes aren’t a big deal to me. The ratio of frosting to cake is a turn off and yet here I am singing the praises of these and look how much frosting there is! There is even filling and I still like them. I like them a lot. A little cake, a little truffle, and some of the smoothest, silkiest frosting ever. What’s not to like?

Look at that filling!

The cake is moist, the crumb is tender. The filling and frosting which seem as if they’d be over the top are perfect together. They’re definitely worthy of a special occasion.

The people we shared these with loved them as well. The recipe originally came from Cook’s Illustrated, June 2010. You can get the recipe here. They’re a bit of work, but definitely worth the effort!

Sour Cream Chocolate Chip Scones

January 11, 2011

Sour Cream Chocolate Chip Scones

In my last post I mentioned all the great recipes I’ve recently made from Cookie Madness and this is one of my favorites. I have all kinds of ideas swirling around in my head for future variations. These have a great texture. A little crust on the outside, but soft and moist on the inside.

I’m easily entertained, so I grated the very cold butter. This was fast, easy, and fun to do and the grated butter made the scones especially easy to mix without over mixing which can lead to toughness. This is a good technique that can probably be applied to other recipes.

I like to bake my scones in a circle. I place the dough on a piece of parchment paper on top of the baking sheet and pat the circle out. Then I cut the circle into wedges with a bench scraper and pull the wedges apart so there is about a half inch between the wedges. I like the way the scones turn out when I bake them this way.

This will be my go to scone recipe for those times when I can’t make the eggnog scones, which I also love!

For the complete recipe click here.

Frosted Fudge Brownies

January 9, 2011

Frosted Fudge Brownies

Here at Basically Baked there is a lot of monkey see monkey do going on. Since the New Year I’ve baked three recipes from Cookie Madness. I’ll post photos and reviews of all of them eventually, but I’m starting out with these frosted brownies. I was wanting brownies, and I knew my husband would go for them since brownies are one of his favorite things. They really hit the spot!

The brownie is moist and not super dense, but not cakey either. The frosting reminded me of the icing used on Texas Sheet Cake but the method is a little different. My frosting was very pourable. Anna mentioned that hers was more spreadable than pourable. I put mine on right after mixing it together and the brownies were still hot out of the oven.

I made two changes from Anna’s recipe. I used walnuts because I have some to use up, and I only had enough Hershey’s cocoa for the brownie, so I used Penzey’s Dutch cocoa for the frosting. These are super easy to mix together. The only hard part is waiting for the frosting to set up so you can cut into them for your first taste.

Click here for the recipe.


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