Archive for the ‘Chocolate’ Category

Cafe Latte’ style Turtle Cake

August 12, 2011

Turtle Cake

There is a restaurant called Cafe Latte’ on Grand Avenue in St. Paul, MN. It’s almost three restaurants in one. They serve up-scale food cafeteria style, they have a pizza/wine bar, and a retail bakery. We’ve enjoyed every single thing we’ve ever tried there, and that’s saying a lot because we’ve been going there for a lot of years. One of the things they’re most known for is their Turtle Cake. It’s absolutely delicious!

This year we celebrated a bunch of spring and summer celebrations at one small family event. I decided I should try to make my own version of Turtle Cake. The recipe for the Cafe Latte’ Turtle Cake can be found on the web, but truth be told I had a little trouble with that recipe and decided to strike out on my own. I melded together some different recipes to come up with an excellent cake of my own.

The cake starts with a really moist, chocolate cake which I ever so slightly adapted from the King Arthur Flour Favorite Fudge Birthday Cake recipe. Next is a smooth fudgy frosting studded with toasted pecans, and then all of that layered with caramel sauce. You could use caramel sauce from a jar. Next time I’ll either do that, or I’ll make caramel sauce from scratch. The recipe you’ll find here is a little too runny.

Here’s how I made the cake.

Cake: (recipe adapted from Favorite Fudge Birthday Cake by King Arthur Flour)
2 cups (14 ounces) sugar
2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) King Arthur  Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 tablespoons (3/8 ounce) cornstarch
3/4 cup (2 1/4 ounces)  Dutch-process cocoa
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons espresso powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) water

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease and flour,  then line with parchment, three 9″ round cake pans.

To make the cake: Whisk together the dry ingredients. Add the eggs, oil, and vanilla, beating until smooth. Gradually add the water, beating until smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared pans dividing equally. (A kitchen scale comes in really handy here.)

Bake the cakes for about 25-30 minutes  or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the cakes in the pan for 15 minutes, then turn them out of the pans to cool completely on a rack.

Caramel Sauce – Warning! This recipe is runny and I recommend using caramel sauce from a jar for a less runny sauce.

One package Werther’s Caramels
2 T. heavy cream

Remove the caramels from their wrappers and place in a small saucepan with the cream. Place the pan over medium low heat and stir occasionally until the caramels melt. Set aside to cool. You will need about 3/4 c. of sauce

Fudge Frosting
1/2 cup milk
1 cup sugar
6 T. butter
2 cups good-quality semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 c. toasted pecans for garnish

Mix sugar and milk in saucepan. Add butter and bring to a boil.
Remove from heat. Add chocolate chips. Using wire whisk, mix until smooth. If
frosting is too thick or grainy, add 1 or 2 teaspoons hot coffee.

To assemble cake: Place one cooled cake layer, top-side down, on cake plate. Spread
with one-third of frosting, pushing it out gently from edges to make a petal effect.
Sprinkle with 1/2 cup pecans, Drizzle with 1/4 cup caramel. Add next layer, again
top-side down. Repeat frosting and sprinkle with 1/2 cup pecans and drizzle with 1/4 cup
caramel. Place final layer top side up. frost with petal effect and finish with remaining
pecans and caramel.

Time to slice and serve!

By the way! The photos have not been altered. The grass in the above photo really was that green!!

A healthier chocolate muffin

August 4, 2011

Banana Chocolate Muffins

Anna at Cookie Madness posted a recipe for Apple Butter Chocolate Muffins and I nearly went running to the kitchen to make them. The only problem is I don’t have apple butter on hand, I don’t have enough apples to make any, I don’t have applesauce to reduce, and I don’t have time to run to the grocery store. I didn’t let any of that stop me. I did have an overripe banana on the counter and I thought it might be okay in place of the apple butter.

I have a personal pet peeve about comments on blogs and recipe sites that say, “I made  your recipe but I changed this, that and the next thing and my results are different than yours. What did I do wrong”? Swapping out banana for apple butter is a major ingredient swap. I hoped it would work, but if it didn’t I could only blame my cavalier ways in the kitchen. (All that said, I love to read your comments, and am happy to answer any questions you might have… even if you change things up to suit your own tastes or what you have on hand.)

The muffins are relatively low in fat and the fruit adds to the sweetness in a tasty, healthy way. The white whole wheat flour adds to the nutritional profile and the chocolate chips and cocoa add a bit of decadence without being over the top.

How did they turn out? They’re very tasty and just moist enough. They’re tall with nice crowns, and they smell great! When apple season rolls around I’ll definitely make some apple butter and make these according to Anna’s recipe. In the meantime. Here’s how I made them.

The banana substitution made me concerned that they wouldn’t be as moist as they would be with apple butter. Let’s face it. There are a lot of differences between banana and apple butter. I added a little almond milk, and upped the spices and hoped for the best.

Cross section of Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Banana Chocolate Muffins (Adapted from Cookie Madness’ Apple Butter Chocolate Muffins)

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons white whole wheat flour (114 grams)
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (28 grams)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of allspice
pinch of cloves
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar (63 grams)
1/2 cup mashed overripe bananas (114 grams)
2 large egg whites
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
2 generous tablespoons vegetable oil (30-33 ml)
1/2 T. almond milk
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray 6 silicone cupcake molds with release spray. Mix the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices together in a bowl. In a mixing bowl, stir the brown sugar, mashed banana, egg whites, vanilla, almond milk and oil together. Pour the dry mixture into the banana mixture and stir until almost mixed. Add the chocolate chips and mix just until incorporated. Divide batter equally among the cupcake molds. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs.

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.

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.

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!

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.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies

October 3, 2010

Pumpkin Cheesecake BrowniesYesterday I visited some friends who always enjoy the homemade things I bring them. I wanted to make something with the taste of autumn. I was tempted to make our favorite pumpkin bars since I’ve never posted them on the blog, but when Anna at Cookie Madness blogged about her Layered Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies I couldn’t get them out of my head and had to make them.

Have you ever had a time in the kitchen when you thought you should just give up!? Friday evening was one of those times. I failed to look at the recipe before I went to the store on Friday afternoon and tried to shop for the recipe from memory. I didn’t do so well, but fortunately my husband remembered a half package of cream cheese in the refrigerator that I had forgotten about so the fact that I didn’t buy enough cream cheese didn’t end up being an issue. I started out thinking I had also blown it by not buying more chocolate and after fussing over how to make do with what I had Anna graciously pointed out via email that the recipe actually calls for chocolate chips not regular chocolate so I was fine there too. So, mies en place (or so I thought) I whipped these brownies together. The recipe isn’t difficult unless you make it that way as I did late Friday evening. Once the brownies were in the oven I realized that I put in the entire package of chocolate chips instead of the 9 ounces it calls for. I banged my head against the wall and decided, ‘whatever!’.  If they were a disaster I’d keep it to myself and move on.

The good news is that they weren’t a disaster! I can’t compare them to the original recipe, but I can say that the extra 3 ounces of chocolate didn’t seem to hurt them a bit. The  brownie and pumpkin cheesecake are a nice combo. The cheesecake is smooth, creamy and lightly spiced. The brownie part is rich and chocolaty with a slightly flaky top.

My friends and husband all seem to love these. I was tempted to put in some cayenne or chipotle powder to ramp them up a bit but the way things were going it’s good I didn’t.

You’ll find the recipe at Cookie Madness.

Cheesecake Brownies

September 24, 2010

It’s time to clear the cobwebs, and post something on this much neglected blog. I have a good excuse for the neglect. This summer I fell in love again with bicycling. I used to bike a lot but got away from it and haven’t biked much  in at least 15 years. I fell hard, bought a new bike and get out whenever the weather and my schedule cooperate. That leaves less time for baking and even less time for blogging, but the biking is really good for me and I love it.

Yesterday Anna at Cookie Madness got my attention with some cheesecake brownies. It occurred to me as I was reading her post that I’ve never made cheesecake brownies. Say what!? How can that be? Brownies, yes! Cheesecake, yes! Why haven’t I put them together?

There are a lot of recipes out there for cheesecake brownies. After some surfing around the web, and leafing through some cookbooks from my shelves I decided to give David Lebovitz’s Cheesecake Brownies a go. I think this combination is a culinary marriage made in heaven.

The real hoot is I that I didn’t use high end chocolate for these. I used Baker’s Semi Sweet chocolate, Penzey’s Dutch Process Cocoa, regular butter, and Nestle’s Chocolate Chips. I haven’t purchased Nestle’s chips in years but they were dirt cheap last week and I figured what the heck. They’d be convenient to have on hand and to save a few bucks I could use them for awhile instead of my favorite Guittard chocolate chips. Since I used salted butter I omitted the salt all together.

I thought for sure I had a 9×9 inch baking pan, but it turns out that all of my square pans are 8×8 inches. By the time I dolloped the cream cheese on top of the brownie mixture it was completely covered in my too small pan so swirling became almost impossible. You’ll notice that mine look more like cheesecake topped brownies. Do not let this stop you from making these. The texture of the cheesecake is smooth and satisfying and the perfect foil to the rich, sweet, dense brownie. Next time I will be sure I’ve added a 9×9 inch pan to my bakeware arsenal, but if all I had was the smaller 8×8 pan, I wouldn’t let it stop me from making these.

Cheesecake Brownies

Cheesecake Brownies

The photo above was taken out on my porch in the waning light of the day. I hope to get a chance tomorrow to take better photos.

If you’re looking for a great cheesecake brownie recipe, look no further than page 195  in David Lebovitz’s book, Ready for Dessert. You can also find the recipe on his blog.  This is the third recipe I’ve made from Ready for Dessert and each of the recipes has been absolutely excellent. The caramel ice cream redefined caramel ice cream at our house, and the chocolate chip cookies are one of the most excellent chocolate and pecan delivery systems I’ve had the pleasure to eat.

Turtle Cookies with Browned Butter Icing

July 10, 2010

Turtle Cookies with Browned Butter Icing

First off I apologize for the photo. I snapped these off pretty fast and didn’t get a good photo. By the  time I realized how poor they were the cookies were gone.

This is a recipe my Mom let us make in the summer when it was too hot to have the oven on. It also kept a couple of us busy for a little while on a hot summer day. My older brother and I both liked to cook and bake which worked out well for my Mom. The funny thing about this recipe is it is written in my sister’s handwriting. To this day she isn’t a big fan of sweets, and she avoids time in the kitchen as much as possible so I’m not sure why she’s the one that wrote down the recipe. It might be the only recipe ever in her handwriting, so I’ll be sure to hang on to it as proof that she must have dabbled in the kitchen at least a little.

Sadly, I never made these for my kids growing up. Until recently our only waffle iron was a Belgian waffler with very deep grooves and I didn’t think it would be good for these cookies. Our new Belgian waffle iron doesn’t have such deep grooves so I thought it was time to give this recipe a try. The cookies are soft, and in my opinion benefit from a day in a tightly sealed container. The browned butter icing is an update. When we were kids we just mixed up powdered sugar and butter with a little milk and vanilla and called it good. I loved the browned sugar icing on these.

Turtle Cookies

1.5 c. sugar
1c. margarine (I used butter)
4 eggs
2 t. vanilla
1/2 c. cocoa
1/4 t. salt
2 c. flour

Preheat the waffle iron to the medium setting. (I had to use a lower setting and cook them longer.)

Cream together the margarine and the butter. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until incorporated. Add the cocoa, salt, and flour and stir until just mixed.

Drop onto heated waffle iron. Bake for 1 minute. (Mine turned out better at a lower setting with a longer cook time.)

Frost the cookies. (We made either chocolate or vanilla depending on our mood.)

Browned Butter Icing

1/4. c. butter
2 c. powdered sugar
2 T. cream or milk
1 t. vanilla

Place the butter in a stainless steel pan over medium heat. (Not non-stick. You want to be able to see the butter brown and non stick pans are too dark.)
When the butter is melted swirl the pan occasionally and watch closely as the butter browns. Don’t walk away from it or it will get too dark. When the butter has golden flecks remove from the heat and put it in a bowl to make the frosting. If you leave it in the pan it will continue to cook and may get too dark.
Add the powdered sugar, milk and vanilla and mix thoroughly. Frost the cookies.

German Chocolate Cake

July 3, 2010

German Chocolate Cake

After the ugly cupcakes last week I thought twice about posting this German Chocolate Cake because it won’t win any photo contests either. Two things changed my mind. First of all it tastes really good. Second without either of us knowing what the other was making both Anna and I made the same cake!

At our house a cake like this is an occasion cake. My husband recently celebrated his birthday and he loves German Chocolate Cake so that was a perfect excuse to make it.

The cake layers baked up unevenly and I worried that the texture would be disappointing but it was very nice. The cake was moist and had a fine crumb. When I make special occasion cakes I almost always use superfine sugar. I think the texture of the cake is better with superfine sugar, but that could be my imagination.

My husband and I both loved the frosting for this cake! I wondered about adding the chocolate to it, but I’m not sorry I did. It tastes wonderful, but the cake is very monochromatic with the addition of the chocolate to the frosting. If appearance isn’t an issue this is definitely a good recipe. It’s a little less sweet than some other recipes. Perhaps a double recipe of the frosting and covering the whole cake would be the answer to hiding some of the appearance problems? The cake would still be monochromatic but super yummy!

It was really difficult to slice this cake and have a photo worthy slice. The pecan and coconut impede the progress of the knife through the layers, and as I mentioned it wasn’t pretty to begin with. Or, maybe I need to improve my slicing skills?

Here’s a direct link to Anna’s cake on the Cookie Madness blog.

German Chocolate Cake

6 oz German’s sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1⁄2 cup water
2 1⁄2 cups cake flour, sifted before measuring
1 teaspoon baking soda
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1⁄2 lb butter, softened
1 3⁄4 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs, separated
1 1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature

4 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
1 cup evaporated milk
12 tablespoon butter, cut into small pieces and softened
2 ounces German’s sweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1 cup coarsely chopped pecan

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease three 9-inch cake pans, line them with parchment rounds and flour the sides. Set aside (I’ve had good luck with flour-added baking spray plus parchment).

Put the chocolate in a heat proof bowl and slowly pour hot water over it. Let it sit for a couple of minutes, then stir until melted and smooth.

Sift together the cake four, baking soda and salt.

In an electric mixer on medium speed, cream the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time, followed by the vanilla. Reduce mixer speed to low and stir in the melted chocolate. By hand or using lowest speed, add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk (beginning and ending with the buttermilk).

Beat the egg whites to almost stiff peaks in a separate bowl. Fold about 1⁄2 cup of the batter into the egg whites to lighten it up, then fold the egg whites into the batter.

Divide the batter among the three cake pans and bake on middle and lower racks for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs. ( I only baked mine for 30 minutes. I suggest you check the cakes as early as 25 minutes.)

Cool the cakes for a few minutes and remove from the pans. Remove the parchment, invert cakes back to upright and cool on racks.

Whisk together the egg yolks and sugar in a 2 quart saucepan until thick, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk, butter, and chocolate. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until it is smooth and thick enough to lightly coat a spoon, about 5 minutes. Keep heat low or egg yolks will scramble.  Remove pan from heat and stir in the vanilla, coconut and pecan.
Let the frosting cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until thickened but not quite solid, stirring it couple of times.

Spoon about a third of the frosting on top of one cake. Spread it out almost to the edge. Place a second cake on top of the frosting, repeat with another third of the frosting. Place the last layer on top and frost just the top of the cake, letting a little drizzle down the sides. The frosting is too fragile and soft to frost the sides.