Cakes and Cupcakes · Chocolate · Dessert · Pizza · Recipes

The Soul Sisters



I miss the Soul Sisters.  Isabel, Lucy and Pearl came out to California for their annual visit.  We had a great time feasting together.  We made ice cream for vacation Sunday, and we had a pizza party at our house.  We swam, actually floated in Veronica and Joey’s pool until our fingers and toes were shriveled up.  That’s a lot of floating time.  More on that later.  First I want to show you the cake I made for their last day in town.  It’s a chocolate-chocolate chip cake with cream cheese frosting.

Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1 box Duncan Hines devils food cake mix
  • 1 box chocolate pudding mix
  • 8 ounces sour cream
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup corn oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 12 ounces chocolate chips

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1-8 ounce block of cream cheese
  • 4 ounces unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon Mexican vanilla
  • 1 pound confectioner’s sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine ingredients for the cake and mix for 3 minutes.

Place in 2-10″ round cake pans lined with parchment. Do not butter and flour the pan. You actually want the cake to cling to the sides of the pan to ensure straight sides to the cake. I like to use baking strips . The top of the cake stays flat, and the sides do not overcook. Bake for 35 minutes. I tap the cake in the oven, if it jiggles, it needs to continue baking. Cool on a wire rack, then wrap the pan in foil until ready to frost. That usually means the next day for me.

To make the cream cheese frosting:
Cream butter and cream cheese in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle until smooth. Add the vanilla. Slowly incorporate the powdered sugar.
Frost the cake, refrigerate overnight.

I used smaller cake pans and loaded them up a little too much.  The cakes sunk in the middle, so I cut off the top to even them out.  I used the rest of the cake to make these cake balls.  I dipped them in dark chocolate, and then drizzled them with the white chocolate.

Check out Lucy, she’s enjoying a little pre-taste of our home-made vanilla ice cream.

Lucy is one talented artist.  I’ve commissioned her to paint something for me.  We’re not sure what she’s going to paint yet.  You can’t rush artists.

We had to have a pizza party!  Everyone made their own.  Pearl’s looks amazing, with a lot of cheese and just a sprinkling of pepperoni.

We had an awesome conversation about her goals.  She plans to marry a professional football player who’s loaded with money so that she can open a ski resort.  She plans to have five houses at different locations.  She told me sometimes her goals are a little hard to achieve, but it’s worth trying anyway, even if she’s a little disappointed when things don’t turn out as planned.  How old is she?  So wise for such a young age.  And then she mentioned she would like to be a mermaid.  And it would be great if she could just take a pill and transform back into a human.  Then she could have twice as many friends.  Ahhh, yes, she really is eleven.

Lucy and Isabel have plans to open a bakery.  Or maybe a bakery/tattoo parlor.  Or maybe a bakery with cakes that are adorned with tattoo-like art.  I just know that I can’t wait for whatever it is they decide.

Can’t wait for next year!

Chocolate · Dessert · Recipes

frozen banana balls of joy

Aren’t they fabulous?  They’re frozen chocolate covered banana bites, sprinkled with a little walnut and toasted coconut love.  I found the recipe on epicurious.com and tweaked it a bit.  

Chocolate-Dipped Frozen Banana Bites

  • 2 – 3.5 ounce dark bittersweet chocolate bars (I used Valrhona)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 3 bananas, cut into 3/4″ slices
  • toasted coconut
  • crushed walnuts, or any nut, cookie, candy sprinkles or candy bar

 

Melt the chocolate and butter.  Carefully.  Use the lowest possible heat, and don’t walk away.  The chocolate just needs to melt.  It should barely be warm, not hot.

Options.  

Dip ’em.  I used my fondue fork to dip the banana slices into the chocolate.

Add the crunchy exterior.  Or not.  I did leave a few just dipped in chocolate.

Freeze ’em.

And so it begins.  We’ve ordered our wood-burning pizza oven plans, and moved all of Chik’s left over pizza oven supplies from his house to ours.

Chocolate · Dessert · Recipes

Sunshine’s birthday mocha cheesecake

Hi there.  It’s been a while!  We had a fabulous time in Moorea.  The lagoon water was AMAZING!  More on that later.  Check out this tasty mocha cheesecake.  And the best part…it’s made with non-fat cottage cheese!  So chocolately…so cheese-cakey!  So easy:)  The recipe is from Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food Magazine.  I made these for Sunshine’s birthday.  He’s requested a repeat performance for his Italian birthday bash tonight.  He’s sort of like me now when it comes to birthdays.  One day of celebrating is clearly not enough.

Mini Mocha Cheesecakes

  • 2 cups nonfat cottage cheese
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons espresso powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (I used Tahitian vanilla!!)
  • 9 chocolate wafer cookies, such as Famous
  • whipped cream, for serving

Preheat oven to 275º.  Line a 12 cup muffin pan with 9 paper cupcake liners, leaving the empty cups in the center for even cooking.  In a food processor or blender, combine cottage cheese, eggs, confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder and vanilla.  Process until smooth, about 4 minutes, scraping down sides as needed.  Spoon mixture into lined cups, leaving 1/4″ space at top.  Place 1 cookie on top of each filled cup.  Bake for 25 minutes.  Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for at least 1 1/2 hours (or cover for up to 3 days).  When ready to serve, peel off the paper liner and invert onto a plate.  Add a dollop of whipped cream.

 

Yumm…  Seriously, yum.

Chocolate · Dessert · Recipes

week day brownies

These brownies are delicious, and the best part…they’re from Cooking Light!  I actually found the recipe for these on another blog.  They made them look so good.  I never would have made them otherwise.  The picture on Cooking Light, well, not so pretty.  My picture looks a little goofy too, but you get the idea.  The middle brownie on the top row is extra light, I didn’t eat that one.  I like the one on the lower right better…

I call them week day brownies because we’re trying to eat lighter Monday through Friday.  But the weekend comes and  it’s a free for all.  We’re losing weight, but just think how much more we could lose if we actually made light and healthy choices all week long.  We lose weight during the week, and then celebrate our weight loss on the weekend, with not so healthy choices.  It sounds really lame as I write it.  Okay, better choices all week long…

I think these were actually better than the fattening ones I made for my seven beautiful Valentines. I loved the Baileys addition.  I also loved that they were fudgey without being too dense.

I made these for my Valentines day Valentines, Melissa and Sunshine.  We ate brownies and watched the Bachelor.  I’m stoked Brad finally got rid of crazy Michelle.  But now that she’s gone, I’m going to miss her crazyiness.

Irish Cream Brownies

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/3 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup Baileys Irish Cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup sugar

Preaheat oven to 350°.  Sift the flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda together.  Set aside.

In a small saucepan set over low heat, melt the chocolate and butter.  Stir to combine.  Remove from heat.

Whisk eggs, vanilla and Baileys in a separate bowl.

Add 1/4 cup of the chocolate mixture to the egg mixture to temper, whisk to combine.  Add the egg mixture to the chocolate along with the sugar.  Stir over low heat 2-3 minutes or until sugar dissolves a bit.

Fold the chocolate mixture into the dry ingredients, stirring until just combined.

Pour batter into a 8×8″ square pan lined with parchment paper.  Bake for 18-20 minutes.

Cool, dust with powdered sugar.  Serve with a dollop of whipped cream and fresh berries.

 
Chocolate · Dessert

Veronica’s fabulous truffles

Veronica’s been busy in the kitchen.  Check out her fabulous truffles.  I asked her for the recipe and this is what she gave me:

Veronica’s fabulous chocolate truffles

The truffles are by eying..
I started with Scharffenberger dark chocolate…(big bar- 9.7 ounce) (It was too dark for my liking so I added a small scharffen berger semi-sweet (3 ounce)…  then I added 2 Tablespoons of butter….   swirled it about….  and added in about 1 cup of cream…  maybe a little more…  watching for the consistency I like and color…  I used a whisk..
Refrigerated that until firm enough to work with…  rolled into balls, refrigerated again…  then I dipped in Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate darker than their usual… with 3 Tablespoons of butter…  I do my own style of tempering the chocolate..

A lot of work and people here are eating them up!  (Joey, Mike, Michele, Grace and Papa Joe)  Mike dipped his in the caramel (I left some in a bowl)

Cakes and Cupcakes · Chocolate · Dessert · Recipes

Goodbye Corey!

Sadly our little Corey at work is leaving us and moving on to bigger and better things:)  As his last request before heading off to NYC he’s chosen a Mexican themed department breakfast.  We will miss you my shark obsessed friend!

I’m brought these mini boozy bundt cakes.  Not exactly breakfast fare, but who doesn’t love a boozy bundt cake anytime of the day?  I have yet to meet you, if you’re out there.

Mini Mexican Chocolate Bundt Cakes

  • 1 box Duncan Hines devils food cake mix
  • 1 box chocolate pudding mix
  • 8 ounces sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon (a little Mexican twist)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup corn oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 12 ounces chocolate chips
  • Kahlua
  • caramel sauce

Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine cake mix, dry pudding mix, sour cream, cinnamon, eggs, oil and water.  Add chocolate chips.

Spray mini bundt pan with Pam made especially for baking.  Add batter until 3/4 full.  Bake for approximately 15 minutes.  Turn out onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Pour a little bit of Kahlua in the center of each cake while still warm.  Cakes can be made a day ahead.  I cover the cakes with another layer of parchment and then cover the baking pan with foil.

Drizzle with caramel sauce and serve.

Greg says:  I’m going to be a bit indulgent with this pairing. I usually try to find pairings that don’t cost a fortune, but I just couldn’t help myself with this choice – Tommaso Bussola 2003 Recioto della Valpolicella Classico, Robert Parker scored it 95 Points and had this to say: “This is textbook high-class Recioto. This opulent, silky-textured wine possesses gorgeous aromatics and layers of raisin, mineral, licorice, chocolate, spice and dark cherry flavors that flow onto the palate with dazzling style, superb persistence and a long, finessed finish. It is not to be missed.” I agree!