Chocolate and Red Wine Cake

chocolate & wine cake (2)

Holy smokes!  This is potentially one of the most smooth, creamy and decadent chocolate cakes that I have ever eaten!  I was a little nervous at first to 1) make a chocolate cake from scratch, mainly due to the altitude (cakes do weird things) 2) make a cake with red wine.  It turns out I had nothing to worry about.  The cake is a little bitter (in a good way), and if you don’t like that just add a bit more sugar to the cake batter, or the fresh whipped cream.

chocolate & wine cake (3)

time: about 1 hour

serves: about 12

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, good ‘ol Hershey’s unsweetened
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups dry red wine
  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream, for serving
  • Confectioner’s sugar (a few tablespoons), for whipped cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla, for whipped cream

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, spray bunt pan.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together the dry ingredients: flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.
  3. In a larger bowl cream together the butter and sugar until well mixed and fluffy.
  4. Add one egg at a time to the butter and sugar mixture.
  5. Add the vanilla.
  6. Once the wet ingredients are well combined, add the dry ingredients and wine – alternating in small batches.  Make sure that everything is mixed together – I didn’t and that’s why there’s some light patches of flour or whatever.
  7. Pour the cake batter into your greased bunt pan.
  8. Place the bunt pan on the middle rack, and bake for about 45 minutes.
  9. Once the cake has fully baked, remove from the oven and place on a baker’s rack (leave the cake in the pan for a few minutes then carefully dump right side up.
  10. Using a whisk and starting on a low setting (gradually moving to a faster speed) whisk your heavy whipping cream.  Once the whipping cream isn’t a milk consistency add the vanilla and keep whipping.  Right before the whipping cream is fully whipped (it’ll have little peaks) add the confectioner’s sugar.
  11. Cut the cake up into pieces and put a dollop of whipped cream on each piece and enjoy!!!

chocolate & wine cake (1) chocolate & wine cake (4)

Amazingly Moist Carrot Cake with Yogurt & Cream Cheese Frosting

carrot cake (4) WM

 

I absolutely hated carrot cake as a child, my mom loved it and I thought she was insane.  I had it for the first time as an adult several years ago, and I finally got what my mom was talking about.  I still do not like carrot cake with raisins, and carrot cake with nuts is growing on me.

This carrot cake is amazing.  It is moist.  It is full of flavor.  I combined Wallaby yogurt with cream cheese – OMG.  I blended in my food processor and it turned out so creamy and soft.

carrot cake (26) WM

carrot cake (13) WM

Time: 40 minutes + time for the cake to cool

Serves: about 8

 

Carrot Cake Ingredients:

  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt (my favorite is Fage)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups very finely grated carrots
  • 1/2 cup pecan pieces, cut small
  • 1/4 cup pecan pieces, broken in (about) half

Yogurt & Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients:

(2) 6 oz. containers Wallaby vanilla or maple yogurt

8 oz. cream cheese

 

Directions:

1. Preheat your oven to 350 F degrees.

2. Spray a 9 or 10inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.

3. Take the cream cheese for the frosting out of the refrigerator so it can soften as you make the cake batter.

4. In a large bowl combine the brown sugar and oil on medium speed with a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.  Add in the yogurt until fully mixed.  Next add the eggs one at a time, beating into the mixture each egg. Add the vanilla and mix to combine. Set aside.

5. In a separate bowl add the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. manually stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients with a spatula until just combined – you do not want to over mix. Gently fold in the shredded carrots and 1/2 cup pecan pieces.  Pour the batter into prepared springform pan.

6. Bake the cake for 35-40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Be care not to overbake otherwise the cake will be dry.  Allow the cake to cool completely before frosting.

7. For the frosting add (1) 6 oz. container of Wallaby yogurt and the entire package of cream cheese to your food processor.  Beat until creamy.  Add in more Wallaby yogurt until the mixture is totally creamy but not totally runny.

8. Once the cake has completely cooked frost the top of the cake, allowing some of the frosting to drip down. Sprinkle

 

carrot cake (25) WM

4 Layer Banana Cake with Pudding & Nutella

banana cake (5) WM

Serves: about 14-16

Time: hours

 

I made this cake for my birthday a few months ago.  It was amazing.  The perfect mixture of flavors.

I have been craving a banana cake for maybe 8 years now, ever since I had my first bite of a banana cake.  One of the ladies that worked for the construction company in the Bay Area that I worked for years ago has a baker son. He’s just not any baker – he is the main cake guy for Oprah. He made cakes for, I believe, Jessica Simpson’s fist wedding and Christina Aguilera’s first wedding. He is the man behind Perfect Endings located in Napa, one of the two cities that I grew up in.

He made this banana cake for one of my company’s holiday parties. I couldn’t remember anything about his banana cake except that it was SO good – I mean, I’ve been wanting another piece for years! It might have had chocolate frosting, I think it was one layer…

I decided to make a banana cake for my birthday, and I put my own touch on it. The cake that I created was four layers with two layers of homemade vanilla pudding, two layers of crunchy Nutella, and was frosted with crunchy Nutella. Even though it was so rich some of my friends wanted seconds!

banana cake (26) WM

Ingredients

Banana Cake Ingredients:

adapted from http://www.lifeloveandsugar.com/2013/08/27/soft-and-moist-banana-cake/

1/2 cup butter

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

2 1/4 cups flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 cup mashed bananas (2-3 bananas)

1/4 cup buttermilk

1 tsp vanilla

 

Vanilla Pudding Ingredients:

2 cups milk

3/4 cup white sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons corn starch

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon butter

Nutella Ingredients

1 jar crunchy Nutella, or smooth – your choice

 

Banana Cake Directions:

1) Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl.

2) Add the eggs to the butter and sugar mixture, beat to combine.

3) Add flour and baking soda, beat to combine.

4) Add the bananas, milk and vanilla, beat to combine.

5) Pour the batter as evenly as possible into (4) greased 8 inch pans (you can also add a sheet of parchment paper to the bottom of the pans).

6) Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. You do not want to overcook the cake as it should be super moist.

7) Cool the cakes in their pans for about 10 minutes, then flip them onto cooling racks until completely cooled.

 

Vanilla Pudding Directions:

1) While the cake is baking, heat the milk in a saucepan over medium heat until it bubbles – be sure that you don’t over cook or burn the milk! Turn down to low.

2) Stir together the sugar, cornstarch and salt in a bowl. Pour the mixture into the heated milk a little bit at a time, stirring during each addition.

3) Continue to cook the pudding until it thickens just enough to coat the back of a spoon. Do not boil!!

4) Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and butter.

5) Pour into a bowl and let cool in your refrigerator.

 

To Assemble:

1) After the cakes and pudding have cooled, cut off the un-even parts of the cakes with a bread knife.

2) Place the first layer of cake onto a decorative plate. Scoop out about half of the pudding on top of the first layer of cake. Spread evenly.

3) Place a few toothpicks on the first layer; then place the second layer on top of the cake/pudding being sure the catch the toothpicks. Spread about 1/8 – 1/4 of the Nutella on top of the second cake layer.

4) Place a few toothpicks on the second layer; then place the third layer on top of the cake/Nutella being sure the catch the toothpicks. Spread the rest of the pudding evenly over the third layer.

5) Place a few toothpicks on the third layer; then place the fourth layer on top of the cake/pudding being sure the catch the toothpicks. Spread Nutella over the top of the last layer. Then carefully spread Nutella on the sides of the cake – the pudding will have oozed out, so to make it cleaner just lick off the pudding…just kidding, scoop it off with a knife / spatula, then eat it!

Enjoy!!!

 

banana cake (23) WM

 

 

banana cake (2) WM

banana cake (29) WM

Plum & Peach Skillet

Plum & Peach (3) WM

I’ve made several versions of a plum skillet, and honestly I haven’t been able to tell the difference.  This one comes from Ms. Martha Stewart herself and like all of her recipes is splendidly wonderful.  I tweaked her recipe and added peaches as well as plums.

servings: about 8

time: about 1 hour

 

Ingredients:

4 tablespoons butter @ room temperature, plus more for the cast iron skillet

1 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cups sugar

1 large egg

1/2 cup buttermilk

2 ripe plums, sliced thinly

1 peach, sliced thinly

 

Directions:

1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

2. Lightly butter a cast iron pan.

3. Sift together the dry ingredients, excluding the sugar.

4. In a separate bowl beat together the butter & sugar until mixed and fluffy.  Fold in the flour mixture.’

5. Pour the batter into the cast iron pan, smooth the top and plop in the plums and peaches evenly.

6. Bake in your preheated oven for about 35-40 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

 

Plum & Peach (15) WM

 

Chocolate Quinoa Cake

Chocolate Quinoa Cake (16) WM

You’d never guess what’s in this amazing chocolate cake (except if you read the title of this recipe 🙂 ).  Yep, it’s quinoa.  You can’t even tell at all.  It’s probably one of the most moist chocolate cakes that I have had.  My sister is celiac and came into town so I made this cake so that she’d have dessert at my friend’s birthday party.  For some reason the cake came out of the pan in two pieces, so I made what was supposed to be a two-layer cake into a “dirt cake” (I’m not sure what else to call it, but it’s like the “dirt cake” I had as a kid minus the gummy worms).

I am going to try making this recipe again and hope that I have better luck with the cake coming out of the pans so that I can actually have a beautiful looking layered cake 🙂  I added the whipped cream that was supposed to be the frosting into the mess of cake and also made vanilla pudding.  This doesn’t keep that well so eat it the day you make it (and refrigerate covered until you do).

Chocolate Quinoa Cake (6) WM

Chocolate Quinoa Cake Ingredients:

1/2 cup dried quinoa, cooked to package directions (plus a tad bit more water) & cooled

1/3 cup milk

4 large eggs

1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla

3/4 cup butter, melted

1 1/2 cups white sugar

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

 

Cake Directions:

1) Cook the quinoa, make sure that it is completely cooked and not crunchy at all.  Set aside to cool.

2) Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Grease two 8-inch round pans, line the bottom with parchment paper (I think I skipped this step because I used Wilton’s cake release, don’t skip this step).

3) Blend together the milk, eggs & vanilla in a food processor.

4) Add the cooked & cooled quinoa and butter to the milk, eggs & vanilla mixture in the food processor.  Blend until completely smooth – you do not want chunks of quinoa.

5) Wisk together the sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl.  Then stir in the quinoa mixture from the food processor.

6) Pour the cake mixture evenly into your two pans.

7) Bake the cake for about 30 minutes / until it is cooked through.

8) If the cake comes out of the pan in one pieces (!! I hope yours does !!) skip the vanilla pudding step.  Or, break your cake up in a decorative dish if you want to add the vanilla pudding.

 

Vanilla Pudding Ingredients:

2 cups milk

1/2 cup white sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon butter

 

Vanilla Pudding Directions:

1) While the cake is baking, heat the milk in a saucepan over medium heat until it bubbles – be sure that you don’t over cook or burn the milk!  Turn down to low.

2) Stir together the sugar, cornstarch and salt in a bowl.  Pour the mixture into the heated milk a little bit at a time, stirring during each addition.

3) Continue to cook the pudding until it thickens just enough to coat the back of a spoon.  Do not boil!!

4) Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and butter.

5) Pour into a bowl and let cool in your refrigerator.

 

Whipped Cream Ingredients:

small container of heavy whipping cream

sugar

vanilla

 

Whipped Cream Directions:

1) With the wisk attachment beat the heavy whipping cream until soft peaks form.

2) Gently stir in the sugar & vanilla to taste – don’t add too much sugar as this will be going into the already sweet chocolate cake with the vanilla pudding.

 

Cake Assembly:

1) Pour the cooled vanilla pudding and whipped cream into the dish with the crumbled chocolate quinoa cake.

2) Gently stir together until it’s all combined; serve chilled the same day.

Chocolate Quinoa Cake (8) WM

Sponge Cake with Strawberries & Rhubarb

Sponge Cake with Strawberries & Rhubarb (11) WM

 

This cake is a recipe for high altitude.  To be honest I don’t know what’s different between this and a non high altitude recipe.  If you are at sea level let me know!  The ingredients below are for one sponge cake – I made two so that they could be layered.  If you do make two make them in separate batches (you can bake both at once if you have two of the same sized pans). You could also make one cake and cut it in the middle to get two layers.

 

Ingredients:

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup cake flour (see note below about making cake flour)

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon cold water

4 egg yolks

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

4 egg whites

 

1 container strawberries

3 rhubarb stalks

small carton of heavy whipping cream

sugar

vanilla

parchment paper

 

Sponge Cake with Strawberries & Rhubarb (9) WM

Cake Directions:

1) Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

2) Grease a 9″ or 10″ springform cake pan and line the bottom with a parchment paper cut to fit the pan.

3) Whisk together the all-purpose flour, cake flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, oil, water, vanilla, and egg yolks.

4) In a separate bowl whip the egg whites until they are white and fluffy.

5) Gently fold half of the whipped egg whites into the batter, then add the other half after the first half is mixed in.

6) Pour the batter into the greased and parchment lined cake pan; bake about 35 minutes until it is golden brown.

7) Let the sponge cake cool in the pan for about 5 minutes and then open the sides of the pan and let the cake cool completely.

8) Once the cake is cooled spread the strawberry rhubarb sauce over the top of one of the cakes.  Place the second cake on top.

9) To make the whipped cream pour the carton of whipping cream into a bowl and whisk on high until soft peaks form.  Pour in the vanilla (about 2 teaspoons) and sugar (to taste).

 

Strawberry Rhubarb Sauce Directions:

1) After washing the strawberries and rhubarb slice into bite sized pieces and place in a small pan and put it on medium-high heat.

2) After the strawberries and rhubarb start to “melt” a little and boil reduce the heat to medium-low.  Continue to let the mixture gently simmer until it resembles a sauce / jam.  You can add sugar if you want as the rhubarb is a little bit tart.

 

cake flour ingredients:

1/2 cup flour

1 teaspoon corn starch

cake flour directions:

1) Place the flour in a bowl removing 1 teaspoon of corn starch.

2) Add the corn starch and sift until the cake flour is light and airy.

Sponge Cake with Strawberries & Rhubarb (1) QM

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

pineapple upside down cake (34) WM

 

There is something wonderful about pineapple and maraschino cherries combined together – and it’s even better when it’s in cake form!  The cake had the perfect amount of fluff and denseness; I might even use this recipe for other types of cakes (gotta get creative with summer fruit!).  I used canned pineapple, but you could also use a fresh pineapple (I’m just horrible at cutting them and knew that I wouldn’t get fantastically shaped rings).

Ingredients:

1 can sliced pineapples

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

¾ cup light brown sugar

1 jar maraschino cherries

2 large eggs

2 tablespoons buttermilk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup all-purpose flour

¾ cup white sugar

¾ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons (¾ stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

6 tablespoons buttermilk

 

pineapple upside down cake (51) WM

 

Directions:

1) Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

2) Drain and place the pineapple slices on a paper towel in one layer to absorb the excess juice.

3) Place the 3 tablespoons unsalted butter in a round 9″x2″ cake pan and put into the pre-heated oven until the butter is melted (about 5 minutes).  After removing the pan from the oven, tilt the pan in all directions to coat all sides of the pan with butter.

4) Sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over the bottom of the pan.

5) Place one pineapple ring in the center of the pan and arrange six more around it, then put the maraschino cherries in the center of each ring and in the spaces between them.

6) In a small bowl whisk together the eggs, 2 tablespoons of buttermilk and vanilla with a fork.

7) In a mixer bowl stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Add the 6 tablespoons of unsalted butter and 6 tablespoons of buttermilk.  Beat on low speed just until the flour is moistened, then increase the speed to medium, or high if using a handheld mixer, and beat for exactly 1½ minutes (I’m not sure why it has to be exactly this amount of time, just do it).  Add one-third of the egg mixture at a time, beating for exactly 20 seconds and scraping the bowl each time.

8) Pour the mixed batter over the fruit in the pan and spread evenly.

9) Bake until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes.  Remove the cake from the oven and let cool for 2 to 3 minutes before removing from the pan.

10) Use a knife to make sure the cake is not stuck to the sides of the pan, then place your serving platter on top of the pan.  Turn the cake onto the plate and remove the pan.  If any pineapple or cherry pieces are move simply push them back into place.  Serve warm or cool.

 

pineapple upside down cake (70) WM pineapple upside down cake (55) WM

Buttermilk Lemon Pie with Apricot Blueberries

lemon blueberry pie (37) WM

Yummy!  I had some buttermilk that I didn’t use for buttermilk pancakes, lemons that I didn’t use for lemon meringue pie, and frozen blueberries that I needed to use up.  I found a job for a buttermilk lemon pie, and added my own twist as usual.

Ingredients:

1 baked pie crust

for the custard

1 1/2 cups white sugar

2 tablespoons + 1 1 /2 teaspoons cornstarch

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

3 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 cup buttermilk (1/2 pint)

lemon zest from 2 lemons

roughly 6 tablespoons lemon juice from roughly 2 lemons

for the apricot blueberry sauce

2/3 cup apricot preserves

2 cups frozen or fresh blueberries

lemon blueberry pie (6) WM

for the whipped cream topping

16 ounces whipping cream

4 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons vanilla

lemon blueberry pie (24) WM

Directions:

1. Stir the sugar and cornstarch.

2. Beat in the melted butter, eggs, vanilla, buttermilk, lemon zest, and lemon juice.

3. Bake until set, about 45-55 minutes in a 325 degree oven.

4. Meanwhile.  Heat the apricot preserves & blueberries over medium heat in a saucepan until the two “melt” together.  Set aside until the custard pie has finished cooking.

5. Pull the cooked custard pie out of the oven, spoon the apricot / blueberry sauce over the custard and let cool.

6. Right before serving make the whipped cream topping and decoratively scoop on top.  Serve chilled.

 

lemon blueberry pie (13) WM

Chocolate Caramel Oatmeal Cookies

chocolate caramel cookies (1) WM

I love oatmeal cookies.  I love chocolate.  I love caramel.  Why not combine all 3 into an amazing cookie?  Well, I did.

chocolate caramel cookies (10) WM

Ingredients:

1 cup all purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher or sea salt

3/4 cup butter, soft at room temperature

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 large egg at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups quick cooking oatmeal

dark chocolate broken into pieces, we’re talking good chocolate – Lindt, Ghirardelli
soft caramel candy (mine was store bought, though you could make your own), chopped into tiny pieces

 chocolate caramel cookies (4)

1) Preheat your oven to 350F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

2) In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

3) In a large bowl cream together the butter and sugars until the mixture is creamy.  Beat in the egg and vanilla followed by the flour mixture one scoop at a time.  Stir in the oatmeal, chocolate and caramel candy, mixing just until well combined.

4) Shape dough into 1/2″ balls and arrange on baking sheet leaving about 2-inches between them to allow them to spread.  Gently flatten each ball (so they are approximately 1/2 as high) with your fingertips.

5) Bake the cookies for approximately 12-15 minutes until they are are golden brown.

6) Allow the cookies to cool for 2ish minutes on the baking sheet, then gently place on a wire rack to cool completely.

chocolate caramel cookies (9) WM

Coconut Cream Pie

coconut cream pie (11) WM

Happy Pi Day!!!  In honor of 3.14 I thought I’d post a recipe for a pie, and an amazing pie: coconut cream pie.  This can be made two ways 1) for those of you who like a lot of coconut in every bite 2) for those of you who don’t dig as much coconut (like me).  The custard is amazing, out of this world delicious.  I seriously think I am just going to make a batch to eat as pudding.

Ingredients:

1 pie crust

1/2 cup coconut for toasting –  half goes between custard and whipped cream if you don’t like as much coconut

for the coconut custard:

1 1/2 cups coconut milk (not canned)

1 1/2 cups half and half

5 egg yokes

1 cup sugar

4 tablespoons corn starch

1 tablespoon butter

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cups flaked sweetened coconut flakes – only if you like a lot of coconut

2 teaspoon vanilla

for the whipped topping:

1 small container of heavy whipping cream

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

coconut cream pie (6) WM

Directions:

1. Roll out pie crust and place in pie dish.  Bake until golden brown in pre-heated 400 degree oven, I always place beans on top of tin foil to weigh the dough down and then remove for the last 10 minutes of baking.

for the toasted coconut flakes

2. Spread the 1/2 cup of coconut flakes out on a large baking dish – you only want want one layer – and bake in a pre-heated oven for 8-10 minutes stirring every few minutes.  You want the coconut flakes to be golden brown.  Remove from the oven and set aside.

for the coconut custard

3. Pour the coconut milk and half & half into a small bowl and stir together.  Add the egg yokes and whisk together.  Set aside.

4. Add the sugar and cornstarch to a heavy bottom pan and stir together.  Turn the heat to medium-low.  Whisk in the milk and egg mixture.  Continue to whisk constantly.

5. Bring the custard mixture to a boil, whisking constantly.  You don’t want the custard to burn.  Continue to boil until the custard has thickened up, which will be about 2-4 minutes.

6. Remove the custard from the heat and add the butter, vanilla, salt and coconut (if you are adding the coconut to the custard mixture).

7. Pour the custard into the baked pie crust and spread until smooth and even.  Cover with plastic wrap and cool in the refrigerator for about one hour.

8. If you are adding less coconut to the pie, once the custard has cooled spread half of the toasted coconut over the custard.

for the whipped topping

9. Whisk the heavy whipping cream in a bowl just until small peaks form.  Stir in the sugar and vanilla.

10. Scope out on top of the custard.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

11. When ready to serve the pie, sprinkle the remaining toasted coconut on top of the whipped topping.

Enjoy!

coconut cream pie (2) WM

coconut cream pie (1) WM