“Samoa” Cheesecake for Mommy’s Birthday

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My mom wanted this cheesecake for one of her “splurge” diet days, one of those days happened to fall on her birthday! So it became her birthday cheesecake. I used a picture she found as inspiration and made all my own recipes for the cheesecake. It is inspired by the girl scout coconut, caramel and chocolate cookies and it was sooo good!

Get the recipe for the cheesecake here. (just leave out the spices and exchange the pumpkin for 1/2 cup of sour cream.)

Caramel sauce is very simple:

  Caramel Sauce

                      1 cup packed brown sugar

              1/2 Cup half and half

1/4 cup butter

                       1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Over medium heat, combine cream and brown sugar  and butter. Whisk until sugar is dissolved and the sauce is smooth and thickens slightly. Add in a teaspoon of vanilla and continue to cook for another minute or so. remove from heat and allow to cool slightly before pouring into a jar for storage.

For the chocolate sauce i use a small amount of heavy cream warmed, add in chocolate and mix it until it is smooth and syrupy. For thicker chocolate sauce add more chocolate, for thinner chocolate sauce add more cream. It is super simple!

After you bake the cheesecake, top it with toasted coconut and drizzle with your homemade caramel and chocolate sauces!

Happy baking! -B

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Mrs Linda’s Mini Birthday cupcakes

Made some mini cupcakes for my love’s mothers birthday. Simple vanilla cake with vanilla butter-cream and little pink sugar sprinkles. Simple, cute and tasty!

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Vanilla Butter Cake

Makes 1 bunt pan or 3 8inch rounds… for mini cupcakes I used 1/2 batch and it made 48 cupcakes.

  • 1 Cup Butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 4 Eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons Vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Cup Milk

Beat butter and sugar until fluffy.

Add in eggs, one at a time, mixing just until incorporated after each egg.

Add in vanilla and stir.

In a separate bowl combine dry ingredients. ( I always cheat this step if at all possibly because I hate making more mess than needed.      To skip this step for this recipe:  add 1 cup of my flour and the baking soda, powder and salt in; mix. Then add in my milk and mix. Then add in my last cup of flour…)

Add half of the dry mixture into butter/sugar mixture and beat.

Add in milk and beat until combined then add in the remaining flour mixture.

Ace’s 2nd Birthday Airplane Cake

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All Natural dyed airplane cake with sky & cloud cupcakes

Last weekend i had the opportunity to make an adorable little guys second birthday cake. His favorite flavor of cake is strawberry, and his mom is not into him having artificial dyes. So, I set out on an adventure to find a recipe for a strawberry cake made from real strawberries *gasp* not made from jello or any strawberry flavored things… Let me tell you! There are not many recipes out there! I did finally find one, and it turned out wonderful; tasted so very much like strawberry and was a pretty pink color when it was baked too. I made 2 dozen cupcakes and then a little airplane out of cake as well. For the airplane wings I used white chocolate, I sketched out how big i needed them, laid parchment down on top of that and then poured my chocolate with a spoon into the proper shape. Then before placing it in the cake I smoothed out the edges with a sharp knife to make it look a little neater.

Since little Ace’s mom does not want him to have artificial food coloring, I decided to make my own. I used a variety of veggies to get the pretty colors. I used beets for the red, purple cabbage for the blue and carrots for the yellow/orange color. I’ll tell you how I did it below the pictures 😉

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Top: Beet Red, Bottom Left: Carrot orange/yellow bottom right: Red cabbage blue/grey

For the blue I used red cabbage. I chopped it up and place it in a small saucepan with about 1/2 inch of water in the bottom. I then boiled it until the water was a dark purple…. Now you might be wondering, how does it turn blue though?! You add in something that has a base acidity, so for mine i used some strongly brewed green tea, you can also use baking soda, but i didn’t want my icing to taste like baking soda… After your cabbage “juice” has cooled you add in a small amount of the baking soda or green tea at a time until the purple is gone. This is a heat sensitive color. As the cupcakes sat overnight they turned back more purple than what they had started, which was disappointing. They still were a pretty color though and they were entirely natural!

For the red I did the same thing with the beets; cut three or four of  them up and boil them until your water is a bright hue, just allow your beet “juice” to cool and add it directly into your icing, I  used butter-cream and it mixed well with the icing and was smooth. It did get slightly darker as it sat.  For the carrots i repeated the process, unfortunately the carrots caused the icing to separate a little bit, I tired mixing it more and it would not stay together how I wanted it to. I will have to try the orange/yellow color again at some point…

I REALLY want to get a dehydrator and make my own red dye from beet powder.. I suspect it would be more potent color and would not change the texture of the icing as much as the beet juice did…. hmmmmmm….

Happy baking! -B

All Natural Strawberry Cake

This makes about 3 8 inch rounds, or i made one 8 inch round and 24 cupcakes
Ingredients
  • 3 C. Flour
  • 2 C. Sugar
  • 1½ Tablespoon Baking Powder
  • ¾ teaspoon Salt
  • ¾ C. Vegetable Oil
  • 1½ C. Strawberry Puree
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla
  • 1 teasoon Lemon Juice
  • 4 Eggs, beaten

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Grease and flour  your pans.

In a large bowl,  combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.

Add in your  vegetable oil, strawberry puree, vanilla, and lemon juice to the dry ingredients and whisk until combined.

Add the eggs to the batter and whisk until smooth. do not over mix it or the cake could become too chewy.

Divide the batter evenly between the cake pans or into cupcake liners

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the cake springs back when gently touched (if using cupcake pans it should not take as long.)

Cream Puffs and Chocolate Ganache

Today I decided I was going to make cream puffs. I had not made them in years… While they can be finicky they are so simple and delicious at the same time. It is also worth it to know how to whip up a simple quick dessert that travels well. Seriously, these are easy.

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There are only a few ingredients and then i filled them with sweetened whipped cream…..DSC_1182

And topped them with chocolate ganache.

Chocolate ganache also makes amazing icing/filling if allowed to cool and then whipped with the mixer for a few minutes…. Heavenly actually…. I could eat it on its own… by the spoonful…

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Cream Puffs

1/2 cup butter

1 cup water

1 cup flour

4 eggs

In a small sauce pan place butter and water. Heat until boiling.

Reduce heat and gradually add flour while whisking until the dough forms a ball, remove from heat and place dough in a bowl. Add all four eggs at one time and mix vigorously until the dough is smooth.

Drop onto a baking sheet by 1 tablespoonful at a time (or larger if you would like). They can be placed close as they rise, but do not spread.

Bake at 400 for 30-40 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature. BE SURE that the room is not drafty or else they might deflate… (I had that happen with a few of mine that were not cooked quite long enough too)

When they are cooled, cut the tops off and fill with the sweet cream.. you can use a spoon to fill them or use a piping bag. I used a spoon and it worked just fine.

Sweetened Whipping Cream

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

1-2 teaspoon Vanilla extract

Add ingredients to a large bowl and whisk vigorously by hand or with a mixer until stiff peaks are formed.

Chocolate Ganache

1/2 cup heavy cream

4 oz semi-sweet chocolate

1 Tablespoon butter

(I did mine in the microwave!)

Heat the cream until hot, but not boiling. Add the butter and chocolate and stir until it is melted. Drizzle over cream puffs and enjoy!

Happy baking! -B

Cake Pop Bites for My Lovey!

 Sunday marked me and my loves second day of dating. I have attempted to make these cake pop balls before…. and I failed. Failed SO miserably. They crumbled, fell apart in the chocolate, chocolate was too thick and wouldn’t coat evenly, so I ended up just piping little white chocolate hearts on top of each…. Not exactly a win…. These on the other hand turned out wonderfully. With all the planning and extra precautions taken, they were coated smoothly, stayed together while dipping and of course tasted great. Did I mention I failed so hard the first time? It made this victory over cake bites that much sweeter.

The first thing I did was mix up some simple cream cheese icing, I use 8oz of cream cheese, 1/2 stick of butter and about one and a  half cup of powdered sugar. You cream your butter and cream cheese, then gradually blend in the powdered sugar until it is smooth and creamy. You could also add in vanilla if you wanted to, but because this is mixed into cake I didn’t see why it needed it. I did not get a picture of this step so just envision the bowl of icing… I mixed it in a very large bowl so i could put my cake right in the same bowl, save me some time and energy down the line.

The next step is to crumble your cake,I have to admit, I used a box cake… I have not found a red velvet recipe that I love yet and that is one of Adam’s favorite flavors of cake… plus a box is a little easier when so much else is involved with these little guys. Bake your cake according to the directions, pull it out and let it cool entirely. Then the messy, fun, but oh so messy part… Crumble all that pretty cake into the bowl. I scooped out some of my icing just in case i did not need all of it to wet the cake. You definitely do NOT want too much icing or else your cake bites will fall apart.

Repeat, Do Not Use To Much Icing!

Once you have your cake all crumbled, mix in your icing. You want just enough icing to hold the cake together, but no more. It is kind of like a red velvet play dough at this point. I had my younger sister help with this part, she loves crumbling the cake for some reason. Her and baking never really have gotten along….

I rolled my little cake bites into balls, set them on a pan lined with wax paper and I let them chill in the fridge overnight. Might have been a little overkill, but I really wanted to make sure they had time to stick together so they wouldn’t fall apart during the chocolate coating process.

For the chocolate i started of with white chocolate, I thinned it out with a little vegetable shortening to make is smooth enough to coat the bites easily. Okay, honestly I thinned out the white chocolate a little TOO much with the Veg. shortening and screwed that up. It was too thin and I knew it wouldn’t set up to a hard finish. So I added some of the milk chocolate I had to it to thicken it back up… At this point I was about ready to quit because I had messed it up, again. With the same part that I had messed up on before.  I took a short break and came back to it ready to adventure on. The chocolate combination tasted pretty good too, undertones of white chocolate mixed with the milk chocolate.

I let my cake pop balls sit out until they were just barely cool to the touch (tons of controversy on dipping them cold or at room temperature or slightly cooled. I found slightly cool worked for me.)

I melted my chocolate in a double boiler (or my super fancy bowl on top of a pan of water.) Just be sure the water isn’t touching the bottom or else it can scorch your chocolate and mess your coating up. I cut the heat off after it was mostly melted and left it on top of the pan to stay warm longer.

Here we go.

Drop your little buddies into the chocolate one at a time and roll them around using a fork to coat them entirely. I happened to watch an episode of The Pioneer Woman where she made truffles and coated them in chocolate, and it was great to see the technique she used. She lifted them out of the bowl with the fork, gently tapped it on the side of the bowl to get the chocolate to gloss over the top and then put it on a pan covered in wax paper. I did the exact same thing with my cake pop balls. It worked like magic.

So after I filled up one pan I put them in the fridge to chill out and allow the chocolate to set. I continued dipping the rest and put them on a new pan. If you wanted to sprinkle them with some sugar, sprinkles or something you should do it before you place them in the refrigerator. I did a couple with sprinkles on them, but decided I liked how they looked with just the chocolate.

This is them after they set up…   I found a cute little box to pack them up in, i just placed them between wax paper so that they would not stick together. You definitely want to remove them from the wax paper while they are cold, I had a couple that came to room temperature and my chocolate broke off some.

That is my adventurous weekend! I finally conquered one of baking nightmares I had. He loved them, and everyone that ate the leftovers loved them too.  They would be great for a birthday or any kind of party. They can be stored at room temperature for a couple of days, in the fridge up to a week (if they last that long, I know they won’t in my house). Or you can freeze them, just thaw them out in the fridge before bringing them back to room temperature for serving.

Happy Baking! -B

Cream cheese Icing

1 8oz package cream cheese

1/2 stick butter, softened

1-2 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cream butter and cream cheese together, gradually add in powdered sugar and blend until smooth.

Cake pop/ball/bites

Cream Cheese frosting from above …( you can substitute 3/4 of a can of frosting if you are really not a baker or want to make it super simple on yourself. I prefer the taste it has with the home made frosting, it is not as sickeningly sweet.)

1 box cake mix, baked as directed and cooled completely.

Chocolate chips (will need, 1-2 TBsp veg. shortening if using chocolate), candy coating colored chips or almond bark.

  • Crumble cake into a large bowl, ensure there are no large pieces. Once crumbled, add in icing, use only enough icing to adhere the cake crumbs together. Too much and they will fall apart, too little and they will also fall apart. To test if you have enough, take a small amount and squeeze it together in your hand, if it sticks together with gentle pressure you are ready to go.
  • Form cake into small bite-sized balls (about a teaspoon of icing/cake mixture). Place on a pan covered in wax paper and allow to chill in the refrigerator until cool, about 1 hour.
  • In a double boiler place chocolate or colored candy coating chips and heat until mostly melted. (IF Using chocolate chips or white chocolate you will need to add a small amount of vegetable shortening, I suggest about 1 Tablespoon per 4oz of chocolate.) Turn off heat.
  • Remove cool cake balls from fridge and one at a time place them into chocolate and turn with a fork to coat. Lift the cake ball with the fork and gently tap it on the side to remove excess chocolate, place on a pan covered with wax paper, allow chocolate to set either at room temperature or in the fridge.
  • Enjoy them while they last!