Ingredient: confectioners sugar

Cake for Breakfast!

Cake for breakfast! Yes it’s a thing and it is all over the Internet. It’s actually not a new thing. It started popping up in my feed in every blog I get, recently. So, I decided to do a little research of my own. Before I get to a really good chocolate cake recipe, that you will probably over indulge in, let me give you some of the Kisses and Nibs of it all.

The original study came out in 2011 and was conducted in the UK. It did say that eating cake for breakfast was a good thing and that you might lose some weight. However, it turns out the study was more about eating a big hearty breakfast than it was about eating cake. It also pointed out that if you’re going to eat sugary unrefined carbs, maybe you want to do it earlier in the day, rather than later. Finally, the UK study was a closed study, meaning that the participants were living and eating in a dorm facility. So the facilitators noted that perhaps the social nature of eating together might have had the participants eating less. Be more social when you eat breakfast, if you can. Talk more, eat less.

The second study was done at Tel Aviv University in 2013. This study suggested that the brain works better when it is stimulated immediately in the morning and that chocolate cake was a great conduit for that. The long and short of this is that chocolate has flavonoids and caffeine; both can act as a stimulant. Flavonoids are also a great antioxidant. Both supply energy to the brain and in my honest opinion are a great way to start your day.

I did the MOST official study of all in 2017. It shows that if you make a chocolate cake, somebody will eat it for breakfast!

Okay, enough with the science! Here is a great chocolate cake recipe. I put it together from several different recipes. Make a double batch of the frosting; one is just not quite enough to frost the whole cake.


Really Good Chocolate Cake
Print Recipe
This is three full layers of cake, not one cake cut into three layers! With lots of rich milk chocolate frosting between and all around. Oh yeah!
Really Good Chocolate Cake
Print Recipe
This is three full layers of cake, not one cake cut into three layers! With lots of rich milk chocolate frosting between and all around. Oh yeah!
Ingredients
Chocolate Cake
Milk Chocolate Frosting
Servings:
Instructions
Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and Flour three 9" round cake pans.
  2. In a medium bowl whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together.
  3. In a large heatproof bowl, combine the unsweetened chocolate and cocoa powder. Heat the water and butter in a pot over medium heat until butter is melted but water is simmering not boiling.
  4. Pour hot liquid over chocolate and cocoa mixture and stir to combine and melted and smooth.
  5. Add the sugar and mix to combine. Make sure chocolate mixture has cooled then add the eggs, one at a time and use a hand mixer to just combine. Add vanilla extract.
  6. Add the flour mixture to the chocolate mixture alternating with the buttermilk, finish with the flour, being sure to scrape down the sides. Don’t over mix.
  7. Divide batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake 20-30 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Cool in pan 15 minutes, then invert and cool on rack. Cool completely before frosting.
Frosting
  1. In the bowl of a stand up mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and slowly add the sugar. Be sure to scrape down the sides. Drizzle in melted, cooled chocolate until evenly combined
  2. Frost each layer with about ¾ cup frosting and between each layer. Use remaining frosting to frost whole outer cake.
  3. Melt additional chocolate candy bars and drizzle over the top of frosted cake for decoration.
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Why is it important to Me?

I am often asked why do I write about cooking. Why is it important to me that “you” cook? It’s often a hard question to answer. Maybe, because it feels existential to me; I cook therefore I am. Recently, I had a small epiphany to this question. I woke up early one morning, I went down stairs and noticed the pungent aroma of too ripe bananas. I immediately got to work on banana bread. My movements around the kitchen, to grab my ingredients were easy and lazy on a warm Saturday morning: three ripe bananas, an egg, some flour and sugar are the basics and then I can get fancy. As I worked it dawned on me, this is why I want YOU to bake. I want you to stumble into your morning kitchen and think “banana bread” or cinnamon rolls or whatever you are craving and not be intimidated, afraid or ill prepared to bake. It is gratifying to bake/cook for your family and friends. It is also extremely gratifying to be the teacher. I want your emails saying you succeeded or even failed with one of my recipes. Let’s walk through it and try again. I love running into you in the store and answering your questions about ingredients or techniques. Send me the pictures! I want to see.

So in turn this answers another question that I have been asked. What’s your voice? Who’s your audience? My voice is just me. And you are my audience. In any article you read whether it is here on my blog or a book or a magazine; I want you to feel like we are sitting at the island in my kitchen, sipping a cup of … and just talking. You can ask me anything and tell me everything. See you soon.

Peanut Butter Banana Bread
Print Recipe
Adapted from a recipe on Food Network.
Servings
1 loaf
Servings
1 loaf
Peanut Butter Banana Bread
Print Recipe
Adapted from a recipe on Food Network.
Servings
1 loaf
Servings
1 loaf
Ingredients
Glaze
Servings: loaf
Instructions
Bread
  1. In a small bowl stir together flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.
  2. In an electric mixer bowl, mix together the peanut butter, brown sugar, white sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth and well blended.
  3. Mash the bananas and then fold them into the wet mixture.
  4. Ad the flour mixture and beat on medium low until just just combine. Some lumps are ok.
  5. Pour batter into a greased 9X5X3 loaf pan. Bake at 350° for 1 hour to 1 hour 20 minutes. I know that sounds vague but every oven varies and you don't want your bread to be over or under baked. A tooth pick should come out clean but just clean. Run knife around edges and let cool completely in pan.
Glaze
  1. Put peanut butter, butter and confectioners sugar in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave and stir, in 30 second intervals, until smooth.
  2. Pour glaze over top of turned out bread. Garnish with chopped peanuts. Let set for 10 minutes to set up before slicing.
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Macaron Madness!

Recently a friend asked if I knew how to make French macarons, since she really wanted to learn. I can cook and bake anything so I was sure I could figure it out. When faced with the task, I was stumped. So off to Sur la Table I went, girlfriends in tow, aprons knotted tight and ready to bake. I am now in love with these small sweet treats!

The class focused on classic, almond flavored macaron cookies; the flavor came from the fillings. In class we made a Blackberry Jam and Ganache and Apricot buttercream fillings. The class was great but it only taught us the basics. I knew the cookies could have different flavors and the fillings were endless combinations. I mean these babies are meant to be customized. So, I put my own spin on their recipe and jazzed it up.

Traditionally macarons are made quarter sized. I recommend making them small, bite size, and make a lot! When they’re small, they can be popped in your mouth just like a small candy. I also made a full-sized “Lemon Macaron Tart”, that was out of this world. The lemon curd was extra tart and the macaron was sweet and almond flavored. Delicious!

I have just a few pieces of advice before you dive in.

Make sure you use Almond flour NOT almond meal. I found one , locally, that is called “ultra” fine almond flour.

Use gel colorings and flavorings. You don’t want any added moisture.

Be patient!

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Macarons
Print Recipe
This recipe will get you started making macarons. I hope you will get creative and start adding different flavors and colors to the cookie and fillings.
Servings
35 cookies
Servings
35 cookies
Macarons
Print Recipe
This recipe will get you started making macarons. I hope you will get creative and start adding different flavors and colors to the cookie and fillings.
Servings
35 cookies
Servings
35 cookies
Ingredients
Macarons
Lemon Curd Filling
Crust
Servings: cookies
Instructions
Macarons
  1. Preheat oven to 300°. Place rack in lower third of oven. Fit heavy duty baking sheets with parchment or silpats. They make macaron silpats with circles already drawn.
  2. In a food processor, fitted with the metal blade, put the confectioner's sugar in first then almond flour. Pulse into a fine powder. Do not over process or the powder will become sticky (from the natural oil).
  3. Press (sift) the sugar/flour mixture through a fine mesh sieve. This process may be done up to three times. You are trying to get the smoothest blend possible. You can discard any coarse meal. Set flour mixture aside.
  4. Make the Meringue: In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a whisk, add the egg whites and cream of tartar. Start with a slow speed and whisk until eggs start to get foamy.
  5. Gradually add your sugar and start to increase speed. You can add in vanilla or other flavoring, at this point, before peaks start to form.
  6. Once all the sugar is added, watch closely until stiff, glossy peaks form. You DO NOT want to over beat the egg whites! Think shaving cream, not soap suds. When you have the consistency right, you can fold in gel food coloring. Again be sure not to over work the egg whites when folding in color.
  7. Add the flour mixture, to meringue, in thirds. I find a silicone spatula works best. One more time, do not over blend. You should have the consistency of thick ribbons or lava. Transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a plain round tip.
  8. I like to trace my circles on parchment paper as a guide, or use the pre-drawn silpat. Hold the pastry bag straight up and down and pipe small circles. If you are making one large macaron "top", use a 9" pie guide and work in a circular pattern.
  9. Let the macarons stand at room temperature, until they are no longer tacky and the touch of a finger doesn't leave a dent, in the top. The is about 30 minutes.
  10. Bake until crisp and firm, 14-16 minutes. Let cool completely before removing from pan and making sandwiches. Fill with anything from chocolate ganache or jams to flavored cream cheese. Go crazy!
Lemon Curd Filling
  1. Place all ingredients in a large heatproof bowl and put over a pan of simmering water. Make sure the bowl does not actually touch the water.
  2. Stir constantly as the butter melts and the sugar dissolves. The mixture will heat and thicken in 10 - 15 minutes. Keep a close eye, to not overcook.
  3. The perfect consistency is when the curds coats the back of the spoon without immediately running when a finger is run through it.
Crust
  1. Pulse lemon cookies (enough to make 2 cups crushed) in food processor.
  2. Toss butter and cookie crumbs together and press into a 9" pie dish.
  3. Bake at 350° for 8 minutes. Let cool completely before filling.
  4. Assembly: Fill crust with Lemon Curd and gently top with Macaron. Bon Appetit!
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Valentine’s Day is Red Hots!

Valentines Day is approaching quickly. I admit that my love of the holiday comes and goes. This year I am looking for something simple to do. It seems that this year we are very busy with all sorts of activities, holidays and sports going on.

Tradition says we should give and receive chocolate and other sweets. I think one of the most charming sweets is Red Hots. I love the cinnamon flavor of theses heart shape imperial candies. They are sweet but not super cinnamon-y and spicy. I thought it would be fun to add these cinnamon treats to a butter cream frosting. They add the flavor and a pink and red sparkle to the frosting.

The next question was what to put this fabulous frosting on. I decided on brownies. I really like the contrast of ooey, gooey chocolate with the sweet and spicy frosting. I also happened to dip chocolate chip cookies and even shortbread in the frosting. I don’t think you can go wrong with any baked good. Happy Valentine’s Day!

IMG_5130

Red Hots Candy Frosting
Print Recipe
I crushed the heart shaped, cinnamon flavored candy and added it to a vanilla frosting. The result was a sweet, slightly spicy, pink and red spreckled frosting. I put it over brownies and love the way it tastes with chocolate but you use it on anything you would frost.
Servings Prep Time
12 cupcakes 10 minutes
Servings Prep Time
12 cupcakes 10 minutes
Red Hots Candy Frosting
Print Recipe
I crushed the heart shaped, cinnamon flavored candy and added it to a vanilla frosting. The result was a sweet, slightly spicy, pink and red spreckled frosting. I put it over brownies and love the way it tastes with chocolate but you use it on anything you would frost.
Servings Prep Time
12 cupcakes 10 minutes
Servings Prep Time
12 cupcakes 10 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: cupcakes
Instructions
  1. Using a hand or stand up mixer, beat butter until it is creamy and light.
  2. Add the vanilla and keep beating on a slow speed
  3. Slowly add confectioners sugar. You will need to scrape the bottom and sides. If you need extra moisture, you may add a teaspoon of milk at a time. Don't overdo the milk
  4. Once all the ingredients are breamed together, fold in the crushed red hots. Make sure they are completely crushed so they don't clog a frosting tip.
  5. Frost your treats
Recipe Notes

I had a hard time finding Red Hots in the grocery store.  I may have been too early.  However, you can usually find cinnamon imperials in the cake decorating aisle.  They are really the same thing.  You can really use ay cinnamon flavored candy.

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