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hello chocolate

While my vanilla cake might be my favorite, I also have a soft spot for this chocolate cake. It isn’t the ultimate recipe (which I am still searching for) but it is very close.

I honestly think the key to getting an incredible chocolate cake is, quite simply, the chocolate. Some call for chocolate squares (I use Baker’s which kind of contradicts my statement above) and some call for cocoa. For Christmas this past year, my mom gave me a couple pounds of Callebaut cocoa. If you like to make chocolate confections, it’s worth a try!

Perfect Chocolate Cupcakes from Glorious Treats 

makes 24 – 27 standard sized cupcakes

2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa (best quality available)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (best quality available)
1 cup boiling water


Line muffin tin with paper liners.  Heat oven to 350*F.
In a large mixing bowl, stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla.  Beat on medium speed for one minute.
Stir in boiling water (the batter will be thin, don’t worry, this is right).
Fill liners 2/3 full with batter.  (I usually put the batter into a large measuring cup with a pour spout, and then pour the batter into the liners.) 
Bake cupcakes for aproximately 22-24 minutes.
Cool completely on wire rack before frosting.
My only complaint – you have to make sure you only fill it 2/3 full or a little less, because it rises as it bakes and will overflow – resulting in a not-so-perfectly-domed cupcake. I think I will try this recipe next – by i am baker. She’s amazing. And I am obssessed with her rossette style cakes. 
Here is the last chocolate cake I made = this recipe + mini chocolate chips, chocolate swiss meringue buttercream and raspberry buttercream filling.

Patricia – hope this helps!

pizza take two

On the menu tonight: homemade pizza with left over pizza dough. I’ve been meaning to post the pizza dough recipe too!

Pizza Dough Recipe – adapted from Greg’s Recipe

4 cups (+1/4 cup if needed) bread flour
1 envelope (2 1/4 tsp) instant or rapid-rise yeast
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 cups water, warm (I try to get it to body temp – too hot and it
kills yeast, too cool and it takes forever to rise)

Pour the yeast into the water and let it dissolve for 5-10 minutes.  Stir the salt into bread flour. Then add the yeast mixture and olive oil. You can either use a dough hook to knead, or mix ingredients until combined using a wooden spoon.

Turn out onto the lightly floured counter and knead by hand to form a smooth, round ball.  (You can let the dough hook do the work for you – until it is completely combined). Add extra 1/4 cup flour as needed to keep it from sticking to the counter.  Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with oiled plastic wrap.  Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size (1-1.5 hours)

My quick tip #1 – I preheat my oven so that it gets around 100 degrees, then cut it off and place my bowl of dough in and close the door. You have to be REALLY careful to make sure it doesn’t get too hot. This will kill the yeast. Once it has doubled in size, pull it out. This will happen rather quickly so keep an eye on it.

This recipe makes 3 12-inch pizzas.  Break the dough into 3 pieces and roll them into balls. You can freeze any portions you won’t use for later! However, you should keep the spare dough covered while you work with the other ones.

Pre-heat the oven to 450F. Roll out pizza dough and put on a piece of parchment paper on top of something flat and mobile (cutting board, baking sheet, etc.).  Put everything you want on your pizza dough and then brush the edge of the crust with olive oil.  Slide the parchment paper from your mobile surface onto your baking surface and bake for 8-15 minutes (if your pizzas are thicker, they may need more time).  Slide parchment paper off that and onto a different a cutting board , cut and serve. 


happy america day!

Hope everyone had/is having a lovely fourth! Brandon and I ate early and are now suffering from food comas. Other than some amazing burgers, we had two recipes we wanted to try – jalapeno poppers and a red, white and blueberry pie.

I tried the Pioneer Woman’s Dreamy Apple Pie, but amended a little to include some red and blue!

She calls for a whole cup of heavy cream with other deliciousness, covered in a brown sugar and pecan crumb – instead of covering the top with pie crust.

After one hour of baking, out comes this beauty!

… and of course, I had to use my mini brioche cups to make mini pies, adorned with vanilla ice cream!

Yes, I did mention jalepeno poppers. Our garden is overflowing with jalepenos, so we combined the best recipes we could find. Brandon sauteed mushrooms, onions, bacon and pepperoni (yea, random but delicious). Then whipped this goodness into softened cream cheese and added some cheddar and monteray jack cheeses. We piped the filling into halved jalepenos (after removing the seeds and membrane).

We then dredged them in egg wash, then flour, then egg wash, and then bread crumbs. Bake at 350 for 35 minutes or so, and voila! They were delicious! And I’m sure slightly more healthy than their fried version.

In case you were wondering, yes I did manage to snap a picture of our burgers. Happy Fourth of July!

rosette birthday cake

I came across this gorgeous cake on I Am Baker and decided I’d try it the next time I made a cake – look how simple but pretty this is – all you need is a 1M open star-tip.

… and you can put a flower on a sugar cookie for a lovely but easy cookie.

Anyway, in addition to trying out this design, I also decided to try to make an ice cream cake. How hard could it be? Well if you choose Turkey Hill vanilla ice cream because its soft and delicious, let me warn you now – it melts really easy. I pressed a layer into one of my cake pans and let it harden for about 30 minutes. Next time I’ll let it harden over-night.

I layered vanilla cake, crumbled oreos, the layer of ice cream, butterscotch pieces and then another layer of vanilla cake. As you can see, the buttercream hardens super quick, while the ice cream melts. It’s tricky.

As a result, it was almost impossible to get the sides completely smooth, but that’s what the lovely flowers are for!

What an easy decorating technique, yet it looks so pretty.

And of course, I stopped Brandon mid-bite and made him take a shot of the inside …

I may not do it as well as Baskin Robbins, but it was good!

Happy Birthday Andrea!!!

guilty pleasure: party of two

Valentine’s Day.. a fancy ending to a home-cooked meal… It’s our guilty pleasure. 27 days until vacation and we’ve vowed to get in bathing-suit shape. However we decided to splurge tonight. I made Pasta Puttanesca for dinner – a relatively healthy dinner. But decided on our favorite dessert to end a wonderful weekend! Copy down this recipe – it will come in handy. I promise!

It started with google and ended on Pioneer Woman’s site. The perfect Molten Lava Cake recipe. Here it is:

Preheat oven to 425 F and grease two souffle cups. This recipe is just enough for two, but feel free to double it if you want to make more or larger cakes!

In a heat-safe bowl, combine two squares of chocolate (1 oz per square) and 1/4 cup of salted butter (one half of a stick). Heat in microwave in 30 second increments, mixing in between until both melt. Once the butter melts, you can whisk and the chocolate will follow suite.

Side-note: what kind of chocolate to use? Well I use Baker’s. For as long as I can remember, my Aunt Mich made chocolate chess pie every Thanksgiving and Christmas and I’d watch her melt the Baker’s chocolate squares in a saucepan. It reminds me of her, but you can certainly use any other semi-sweet chocolate you wish!

Once the chocolate and butter are melted and combined, add 1/2 cup of powdered sugar and stir to combine.

Next add one whole egg and one egg yolk. I crack them into a glass bowl and beat them with a fork before adding.

Next add three tablespoons of flour and mix to combine.

Divide evenly into two souffle cups…

Place in oven and bake for 13 – 15 minutes. I go with 14. If you like more lava than cake, I’d go with 13. Likewise, if you like more cake, 15 but no longer than 15. Now I’m left with a chocolatey bowl – you can wash it right away… or do as I do. No biggie…

After 13ish minutes, pull out of the oven. Invert over plate and cakes should slide right out.

Here’s a fun little trick, especially useful on Valentine’s Day or an anniversary – cut a heart out of a piece of paper. Place over cake and sprinkle with powdered sugar…

Add a side of vanilla ice cream. Ta da! A super simple, but decadent dessert!

My favorite part is the first bite – when the lava cake oozes out. Ammmaazzinngggly delicious.

Yea… it’s that good. Food-coma good. The girls got a little spoonful of vanilla ice cream too of course. Enjoy!

rainbow sprinkles

I love rainbow sprinkles. They just remind me of being little and making cupcakes. I made a cake for our intern and used a whole bottle!

The cake was my original white cake recipe. Sean’s favorite flavors were strawberry and banana. So I altered my raspberry filling recipe to create a strawberry filling. Easy enough, but including bananas was the real challenge. Instead of real bananas, which could get oeey and turn brown, I whisked together a box of instant banana pudding and a brick of softened cream cheese. YUM. I iced the four layers of goodness with my vanilla buttercream and decorated with rainbow sprinkles. The verdict? A hit! Sean said it was amazing, which made my day!

Here’s a shot of the inside. I think my favorite part is cutting a piece to see what all of the layers look like : )

photo courtesy of Brent’s iPhone

Happy Birthday Sean!


Even I make mistakes … this is what happens when you leave cupcakes in too long…

And never substitute fruit juices for water. Add the lime or lemon juice after you’ve completed your white cake recipe. Why? Well its chemistry. Acidic juice does not equal water. Your cupcakes will shrink up and pull away from the liner. In addition, they are a little less moist.

Live and learn. That’s what I did!

kelly’s snickerdoodles

Brandon is a sucker for snickerdoodles. I’m always searching for the best cookie recipes. Over the winter holidays, my cousin made amazing snickerdoodles and I finally got around to making them.

Here’s where the Penzey‘s Cinnamon Sugar comes in handy again – and with a shake of pumpkin spice as well. Using my new air bake cookie sheet, I made a slew of these addictive cookies.

Ohhh yesss. Here’s the recipe:

2 ¾ cups flour
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened (I use salted)
1 ½ cups sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or a baking mat and put in refrigerator to chill.
2. Whisk together flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt in medium bowl. Set aside.
3. Cream together butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla.
4. Gradually stir in the flour mixture, beating on low speed just until the flour is blended. (I add a little cinnamon too).
5. Chill dough for at least 30 mins.
6. In the meantime, mix together sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. (I also add a very small amount of pumpkin spice). OR substitute Penzey’s cinnamon sugar and a dash of pumpkin spice.
7. Scoop 1-inch balls of dough and roll in the cinnamon and sugar mixture to coat.
8. Place on chilled cookie sheet about 2 inches apart and bake for 10 mins.
9. Chill the dough and cookie sheets between batches.
10. Let cookies set on baking sheet for 2-3 mins and then remove to cooling rack. Store cookies in airtight container.

Tada! Enjoy!

cinnamon goodness

I had a craving for cinnamon bread so I decided I’d try to make some. My favorite is from Baker’s Crust Restaurant back in Norfolk, mostly because the cinnamon is ooey gooey and it tastes amazing toasted with butter. Thanks to Google, I ended up with Pioneer Woman’s recipe. After making the dough and letting it rise once, you spread a generous amount of butter, followed by cinnamon and sugar.

A completely acceptable short-cut: Penzey’s Cinnamon Sugar! A rich mix of China Cassia and Ceylon cinnamon, white sugar and vanilla beans.

Roll up, let rise again, brush with egg wash and more cinnamon sugar and then bake!

Hello cinnamon bread!

You should try it – it goes great with breakfast. Enjoy!

cheese – please and thank you

We made mini mac and cheese’s for my work potluck the other night. I love mac and cheese. Especially in bite-sized form. Don’t ask me for the recipe – it is Brandon’s secret mac and cheese concoction. Happy Saturday!