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Happy New Year!

January 2, 2012


Egg Nog Cake

Happy New Year!!

It’s been said that layer cakes may be one of the food trends in 2012 and with that in mind Anna at Cookie Madness put together a list of favorite layer cakes, and provided a link to another list of her favorite chocolate cakes. Her list is better than any magazine spread I’ve seen in awhile. With all of that layer cake love and inspiration I realized that I could make a layer cake a month in 2012 without making the same cake twice!

There is a cake on that list that I can’t wait to get to, but with some eggnog in the refrigerator needing to be used up I decided to start with the eggnog cake. I buy organic eggnog to make cinnamon eggnog scones at Christmas time. I love those scones! The only problem is that no one in my family likes to drink eggnog and I always end up with leftovers that most often get thrown out. We like the flavor but the glugginess is a turn off.

So on New Year’s day after a week plus of eating too much sugar and eating too much in general there I was in my kitchen making cake! I only had enough eggnog to make a half recipe and I only own nine inch round pans so I made one layer of cake, cut it in half and layered it.

We like this cake quite a bit. It has a slightly course texture, but is moist without being wet. It’s very easy to make. We both liked it on day one but we like it even better on day two. The nutmeg and eggnog make this cake very flavorful and will be enjoyed by anyone who likes those flavors. The frosting is that old fashioned frosting where you make a roux and then incorporate it into a creamed butter and sugar mixture. It sounds funky but is actually quite good and a good technique for making frosting when you realize you don’t have any powdered sugar in the pantry. There is a chance that the roux will have lumps in it, but I didn’t have any problems with lumps using the microwave method and the frosting was super smooth.

I’m retyping the recipe in the half batch version and including instructions for making the roux in the microwave. For the full version and stovetop instructions for making the roux you will find the recipe here.

Julia Waldbaum’s Festive Eggnog Cake

1 cup all purpose flour (4.5 oz.)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1.5 tsp. baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 rounded tsp.nutmeg (I used already ground nutmeg even though the recipe notes to use fresh and that it’s worth it to use fresh)
2 ounces unsalted butter softened
1 large egg + 1.5 T. egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup eggnog

2 T. flour
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 cup eggnog
1/3 cup butter, soft
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray one 8 or 9 inch round metal cake pan with cooking spray and coat with flour.

In a mixing bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Add softened butter and stir it in, mashing it into the dry ingredients and coating them with butter. When the mixture is moist with butter, add the eggs, vanilla and eggnog. With a spoon or lowest speed of electric mixer, beat until mixed. Turn speed to medium high and blend for about a minute. Pour batter into cake pans, dividing evenly. Bake for 28 to 30 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched.

Cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes. Flip and cool completely.

In a microwave bowl, whisk together flour and salt and about 2 T. of the eggnog. Continue adding the egg nog 2 T. at a time and whisk each addition until all lumps disappear. Microwave on 50% power for 2 minutes stirring once. Remove from microwave and whisk again. I didn’t have any lumps.

In a mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar until creamy. Add flour mixture and continue beating on high with an electric mixer for about 8 minutes or until the sugar is dissolved and the icing isn’t grainy. (It only took me 5-6 minutes to get to the non grainy stage. Beat in the vanilla. Ice the cake.

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!!

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!

Cheesecake Brownies Day 2

September 25, 2010
Cheesecake Brownies


Instead of replacing the photo in the previous post I decided to put new photos in a new post. The photos aren’t that much better but they’re enough better to share. As usual the photos don’t do these justice.

Cheesecake Brownies Day 2

The brownies were great yesterday. They’re even better today. Much like the way cheesecake is better on Day 2. The cheesecake part is smoother. If you haven’t made these and you’re looking for a recipe, make these. You’ll find a link to the recipe in the previous post.

Butterscotch Pie

July 18, 2010

Butterscotch Pie

When I was in third grade my classmates and I all contributed a recipe to a recipe booklet that we made for our Mom’s for Mother’s Day. Our teacher apparently rewrote the recipes we submitted onto mimeograph paper and made copies of the recipes for us to bind together between construction paper covers that we decorated with Crayons. I’m pretty sure my front cover was originally pink and my back cover was purple. When I was home visiting my parents my mother gave me the one I made knowing I would get a kick out of it, and I did!

Booklet Cover

The recipes include one recipe for chili, and all the rest are for baked goods. The baked goods span everything from cookies, cakes, pies, bread and desserts. It’s a real treasure trove!

The recipe I submitted was for Butterscotch Pie. My Mom and I both found this interesting because neither of us remembers being smitten with Butterscotch Pie. I guess it just sounded good to my third grade brain.

Anna at Cookie Madness recently made a few Butterscotch Pies and came up with a winner. Her post is what jogged my memory about butterscotch pie. But, before I made hers I had to do a spin on this one. This recipe calls for a seven inch pie plate which I don’t own, so I made two little pies in my beautiful single serving Emile Henry Pie Dishes. I made some major changes in putting this together, but for the filling I used the same proportions of ingredients. I think you’ll be able to read the recipe as I submitted it in the photo, but I’ll type it up the way I made it today. I used the microwave for the filling. The recipe didn’t state what type of crust to use. I wasn’t in the mood for roll out pie pastry so I took a short cut and opted for a graham cracker crust. I made the simplest of all meringue toppings. The kind we would have made way back when I was in third grade.

My Recipe

We haven’t tasted the pie yet. I’ll let you know what we think of it.

Butterscotch Pie

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place 25-30 pecans on a baking sheet and toast them in the oven for about 8 minutes while the oven preheats. When they’re toasted lightly chop them

For the crust: Combine 1 c. crushed graham crackers, 1 T. sugar and 3 T. butter. Divide evenly between two mini pie dishes and bake for 8 minutes.


25-30  toasted and chopped pecans
3/4 c. brown sugar (5.65 oz.)
2 T. flour
2 T. butter
1/4 t. salt
1 c. warm whole milk
3 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Place the pecans on top of the pie crust.
Combine brown sugar, flour, butter and salt in a 4 c. Pyrex measuring cup and microwave on high for 30 seconds. Stir until well combined.
Add the milk and whisk together. Microwave on high for 1 minute. Whisk well. Microwave for 3 minutes and whisk again.
Whisk the three egg yolks. Add a small amount of hot milk mixture to the egg yolk and whisk well. While whisking, add the egg yolk mixture back into the hot milk mixture. Microwave for one more minute whisking at 15 second intervals. The mixture should mound slightly when drizzled from the end of the whisk. Stir in the vanilla.
Pour the mixture into the hot pie crust.

3 egg whites
1/4 t. salt
6 T. white sugar
Combine the egg whites and the salt and mix on high speed with hand mixer until soft peaks form. Add the sugar 2 tablespoons at a time until the sugar is dissolved and stiff peaks form. Place on top of the hot filling and Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.

We tasted the pie after dinner this evening. It’s very tasty. I’m glad I put in the toasted pecans because they temper the sweetness a little. I would make this recipe again. It set up nicely, and didn’t run at all.  My husband tells me that Butterscotch Pie is his Dad’s favorite. I had no idea! I’ll definitely have to make the  full size version for him someday.

Butterscotch Pie Sliced

Gigantic Chocolate Chip Cookies

June 21, 2010

Gigantic Chocolate Chip Cookies

I’ve come out of food blogger hiding to share the above photo with you and a link to the recipe. Anna from the Cookie Madness blog whipped  them together after a recent trip to Disney World where she enjoyed something similar in Minnie’s Bakeshop.

These are the biggest cookies I’ve ever made! Not only is the circumference huge, but they are also very thick. Almost an inch! They have a unique texture that is difficult to describe. The closest I can come is that the inside is similar to the texture of  a bar cookie, while the outside has a crispy cookie edge.

I’m glad to have successfully made some gigantic cookies. They taste very good, but I think that for the most part I like thinner, smaller cookies better.

On a different note. I’ve been on the fence for months now about whether or not I should continue to blog. Any thoughts?

Minty M&M Cookies

December 19, 2009

Minty M&M Cookies

I wish I could remember how I stumbled upon this recipe at Colleen’s Cookbook. I’m thankful for whatever I searched for or clicked on to take me there. This is a good chocolate cookie recipe and I love the M&M Mint Chocolate Candies that go into them. They’re a little larger than standard M&M’s, and the shell is a little thicker. My husband and I had a hard time leaving them alone as I was mixing up these cookies. The ratio of candies to cookie dough is very high, but I wouldn’t change that. The mint flavor from the candy is just right and I love the crunch the thick shells bring to the cookie. Colleen’s recipe called for pecans. I omitted them.

I rarely retype recipes that appear elsewhere on the web, but since I weighed my ingredients and think you might find that helpful I’ll jot it down here. Colleen attributes this recipe to M&M’s but I couldn’t find it on their site, and I accidentally tossed the empty bags before comparing this recipe to the one on the back of the bag. If memory serves me right, I don’t think it’s there. I think the recipe on the back of the bag right now is for a decorative baking use of the candy.

Chocolate Mint M&M Cookies

2 bags M&M Brand Mint Chocolate Candies for the Holidays (reserve one cup)
10.6 oz. flour
1 oz. cocoa powder (I used regular Hershey’s)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1 c. softened butter
5.25 oz. sugar
5.625 oz. brown sugar
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment.
Whisk together four, soda, salt and cocoa in a small bowl.
In a large bowl cream the butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, until thoroughly mixed. Stir in the flour mixture 1/2 c. at a time.
Stir in the all but one cup of the candy.
Drop by large tablespoons, at least 2 inches apart, onto the parchment paper. Before baking place a few of the reserved M&M’s on the top of each cookie. Bake for 12-15 minutes.
Yield: 36 cookies
(I got 42)

One year anniversary!

December 6, 2009

Basically Baked turns one year old today! I’ve enjoyed connecting with those of you who take the time to leave a comment and I enjoy visiting the blogs of those of you who author them.

To celebrate the anniversary I made the Chocolate Bon Bon Drops that Mary Jane Robbins recently blogged about on the King Arthur Baker’s Banter Blog. They’re very easy to make, very tasty and have a festive look to them. You’ll find the recipe here.

The only change I made to the cookies is to garnish them with Holiday M&M’s instead of the pretty chocolate pearls from King Arthur Flour. I don’t own a tiny teaspoon cookie scoop so when I was done mixing the dough I divided the dough into two equal portions, flattened each portion into a 4 x 3 inch rectangle and then wrapped each rectangle in it’s own piece of waxed paper and refrigerated it for about an hour. Then I cut each rectangle into twelve pieces and formed the pieces into balls and baked according to the directions.

The cookies are sort of a chocolate shortbread. I made my glaze with half and half instead of cream and I would have to agree with Mary Jane that the half and half yielded a thinner glaze than might have been desirable. I also thought the glaze was very good but it was very sweet. The cookies are good enough that I don’t think they need the glaze except for the decorative effect. I think some decorative stencils and powdered sugar might yield a pretty cookie and keep the focus on the cookie. By the way… those flecks you see in the glaze are from vanilla bean paste. Good stuff!!

Basic Granola

December 4, 2009

Granola is something I’ve always intended to make, but have never gotten around to actually making until now. I rarely purchase packaged granola because I thought I was the only one here who eats it. The push finally came when I started crumbling up my crunchy Kashi bars and sprinkling them on top of my yogurt or cottage cheese. I knew this was a waste of my Kashi bars and that I could easily make my own granola.

In the past I’ve used the excuse that I didn’t have the right ingredients for one recipe or another. Do you know what? I don’t think there are the ‘right’ ingredients. If you use what you have on hand, chances are pretty good that you’ll come up with a pretty good granola. I did, and guess what? I’m not the only one who eats granola. Apparently if you have good homemade granola around other people will eat it too. Like my husband, who ate a startling amount of this while I was gone yesterday.

I had used some ingredients that have been hanging around in my cupboard for awhile. Like organic brown rice syrup, creamed honey from the farmer’s market, and sesame seeds all of which were leftover from other baking projects. Then there were the almonds and oatmeal which I always have on hand, and the pecans which I was lucky to have.

This is a conglomeration of a number of recipes, using a conglomeration of ingredients from my cupboard. The only thing I bought just for this were the raw sunflower seeds. There are a few of those leftover for a future baking project.

While this is full of good stuff, I don’t pass this off as health food. No doubt there are a lot of calories lurking here with all the sweeteners, nuts, and coconut oil. But, a few sprinkles on top of my yogurt won’t be too terrible for me and I’ll enjoy every crunchy bite.

Basically Baked Granola (Adapted from numerous recipes.)

4 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 c. sunflower seeds
1/3 c. sesame seeds
2 t. cinnamon
1 t. ginger
1/3 c. brown rice syrup
1/4 c. creamed cinnamon honey
3/4. golden brown sugar
3/4 c. almonds
1 1/4 c. pecans
1 t. kosher salt
1/3 c. coconut oil

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a 1/2 sheet cake pan with parchment paper. Mix everything together in a large bowl as evenly as possible. Spread the mixture onto the parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 40-50 minutes stirring every 10-15 minutes. Watch the nuts carefully so that they don’t become too toasted. Use the parchment paper to transfer the mixture to a rack to cool completely. When cooled you might have some big clumps of granola you want to break up before storing.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

December 2, 2009

About a week ago I was so hungry for a chocolate chip cookie. I’d been wanting to make them for days, but it’s so hard to justify such indulgences when it’s just the two of us here to eat them. I was headed to a meeting out of town with four other friends and our departure time was too early for dinner, but not eating before the meeting meant we were going to have to eat very late. Being the baking fiend that I am I decided this was the perfect excuse to make some chocolate chip cookies to carry us until dinner. In order to make it so they weren’t totally devoid of good nutrition, I conceded and made an oatmeal chocolate chip version. The cookies were appreciated by all, and everyone asked for the recipe so either everyone was really hungry or they’re really good, or both. I froze what my friends didn’t eat and shared them with the kids when they were home for Thanksgiving. I think they were sad when they were gone.

The recipe for these cookies can be found here on the old Baking Sheets blog, and you can read about Anna’s experience with them here where she compares three different oatmeal chocolate chip cookie recipes back to back.