Big, Fat, Soft Almond Sugar Cookies

Tonight’s recipe is courtesy of Pinterest!  From the blog, Confections from the Cody Kitchen, these soft almond sugar cookies are some of the best I’ve ever had.  I’m talking unbelievably soft, slightly chewy, packed with almond flavor (which I LOVE), don’t require rolling and cutting and don’t even need frosting!  Does it get much better than that?!  I think not!  I never thought I’d find a sugar cookie that wasn’t in some way enhanced with the addition of fluffy, dreamy buttercream but these cookies simply don’t need it.  Now you could always skip the step of rolling them in sugar and go ahead and make frosting but I’m just telling ya right now, save yourself the trouble. You’ve got better things to do.

I did of course make a few minor changes to the original recipe (which is reflected in the recipe I’ve posted).  I can’t help myself.  I thought the almond flavor wasn’t quite cutting it so I added a LOT more to my batter, but you do what suits you.  They’ll be fabulous no matter what.

P.S. If you still feel you need that frosting (I can’t blame you), try these amazing Sugar Cookie Bars or these Thick Cut-Out Sugar Cookies (in a different shape, of course).  Two of my faves.

Enjoy!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Big, Fat, Soft Almond Sugar Cookies
 
Ingredients
  • 1½ c. Sugar
  • 1½ sticks Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
  • ⅔ c. Shortening
  • 2 Large Eggs, at room temperature
  • 3 T. Pure Almond Extract
  • 2¾ c. Cake Flour
  • 1 c. All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 T. Cornstarch
  • 2 t. Baking Powder
  • ½ t. Salt
  • Coarse Sanding Sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together sugar, butter and shortening until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add eggs and almond extract and mix just until combined. In a medium bowl, whisk together cake flour, all-purpose flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt. Add to butter mixture and beat on medium speed just until flour is incorporated. Turn dough out onto a large piece of plastic wrap, wrap tightly, place in an air-tight container and refrigerate for one hour or overnight (which is what I did).
  3. Roll dough into 2" balls, about the size of a golf ball and roll in sanding sugar. Place on baking sheets about two inches apart and bake for 12 minutes, rotating pans and switching racks halfway through. Let cool on pans for two minutes and then transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely. Store in an air-tight container.
Notes
Makes 35 cookies.

 

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Gluten-Free Oat and Almond Protein Pancakes

It’s the middle of summer.  It’s freaking hot.  Like hotter than it has ever been in my 31 years of life.  Sweating, sticky and smelly are pretty accurate descriptive words of just about everyone around me, including MYSELF.  Who knew it was possible to gross yourself out SO much?!?  But it totally is.

Naturally, people are wearing less clothes.  And thinking about their figure a little more.  Ok, not all people are thinking about their figure but I know I am!  Can’t you tell by all the low-calorie, fat-free, sugarless, uber-healthy recipes that I post?!  Oh.  Maybe not.   Ok, usually my recipes are sinful and totally NOT healthy but I like to think of them as treats and hope that other people think of them the same way (am I delusional or what?!).    However, I have posted a few nutritious cookie, cake and brownie recipes and hope to keep that list growing.  And these pancakes most definitely qualify as good-for-you food!   We are totally addicted to these things in our house.  I have made them once a week, every week for probably the last month or two.  They are an absolutely fabulous gluten-free option and are perfect for breakfast or a snack.  I have even thrown some cocoa powder in them for a chocolate version that was quite delicious!

Of course you could always throw in some chocolate chips but I like the cocoa powder because it gives it that chocolate factor without all the added fat and sugar.  Feel free to use this recipe as a base and and throw in things like nuts, dried fruit (unsweetened is best) or whatever you happen to be craving at the time!  It is so, so good.

Enjoy!

See original recipe here.

Gluten-Free Oat and Almond Protein Pancakes
 
Ingredients
Dry Ingredients
  • 3 c. Gluten-Free Oat Flour (I just process thick cut oats in my processor until I get three cups of oat flour)
  • ½ t. Aluminum-Free Baking Soda
  • 1 t. Aluminum-Free Baking Powder
  • 1 t. Ground Cinnamon (feel free to add more if you really like cinnamon...I probably do more like 1¼ t.)
  • ½ t. Fine Ground Pink Himalayan Sea Salt
Wet Ingredients
  • 3 c. Water
  • 1 c. Creamy, Unsalted, Raw Almond Butter
  • ¼ c. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 4 t. Fresh Lemon Juice
  • ½ c. Light Amber Agave (or honey, sucanat, etc)
Add-Ins
  • 6 T. Chia Seeds
  • ¾ c. Thick-Rolled Oats
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together all of the dry ingredients. In a blender, mix the wet ingredients until smooth and it has a milk consistency. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients until thoroughly combined. Fold in add-ins. The chia seeds will make the mixture VERY thick as it sits (almost the texture of a drop cookie) so if you'd like it thinner, don't add as many or just thin it out 1 tablespoon at a time until you reach the consistency you want. Warm a griddle to medium (I do 325 degrees) and coat with a bit of coconut oil. Scoop batter with a large spoon onto your griddle. Cook for four minutes on each side, until the sides and tops start to look dry. Top with maple agave and fresh blueberries (my personal favorite way to eat them!) and enjoy!
Notes
Makes 20-22 medium sized pancakes.

 

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Honey Almond Date Balls

Memorial Day weekend is coming, bringing with it lots and lots and LOTS of food.  And I don’t know what it’s like where you’re at, but here it’s in the 90s already!  And you know what that means…pools.  And lakes.  And…bikinis.  Yes, it’s already swimsuit season!  Yikes!  Are you ready?!?  It kinda snuck up on me, I gotta admit, but I am trying to incorporate more and more natural sweets (as in honey, fruits, etc) into our diet so we don’t look like the michelin man when we bare it all at the first water-type event this year.  Of course, can’t do anything about the whiteness (trying to avoid that pesky skin caner) but we CAN do something about the shape of our bodies and our overall health!

(Sorry, little peptalk for myself there.  Ahem.  Ok, back to the recipe…)

If you are watching what goes in your mouth this weekend (like me and my husband) and are kinda scared about the next 72 hours of festivities and merriment, may I suggest these Honey Almond Date Balls as a sweet and healthy alternative?  You might want to double or triple the batch because once people taste them, they will want more.  Seriously.  Jeremy doesn’t even like coconut and he LOVES these things.  I left the recipe alone for the most part except instead of rolling the balls in more almonds, I rolled them in unsweetened coconut.

We love ’em.

We’ve made a double batch for this weekend.

We’re ready to battle the crazy food war.

BRING IT.

Original recipe by David Lieberman

Honey Almond Date Balls
 
Ingredients
  • 1 c. Raw Almonds (do 2 cups if you plan on rolling the balls in almonds)
  • 2 c. Pitted Dates, preferably Medjool
  • ¼ c. Raw Honey
  • ⅓ c. Dried, Unsweetened Shredded Coconut
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grind almonds in a food processor until finely chopped. Transfer to a baking sheet and toast in oven for 5 to 7 minutes, until fragrant and a shade darker.
  3. Roughly chop dates and add to food processor. Pulse until finely chopped and dates form a ball. Remove from processor to a bowl. And the almonds and honey to the dates. Mix together until evenly incorporated.
  4. Using a damp washcloth to dampen your hands periodically, for the mixture into 1" balls and roll in the coconut.
  5. Store in an air-tight container at room temperature for a few days or transfer to the fridge and they will keep for a couple of weeks.
Notes
Makes 25 balls.

 

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Amaretti Cookies

I bet you thought I had forgot about my New Year’s resolution to make one International dessert a month but guess what??  I did not forget!  As a matter of fact I made Brazo de Mercedes in January but things, shall we say, didn’t work out quite as I had planned.  So we’ll come back to that another day.  I’m still a little emotional about it.

I decided on Italian for February because, quite frankly, I REALLY wanted to make Amaretti cookies.  The first time I had ever had them was when Jeremy and I visited Missouri Baking Company in St. Louis and I fell in love with the morsels of chewy almond goodness.  I seriously think I have some kind of problem when it comes to almond-flavored things…meaning I have NO CONTROL over my hand and mouth.  As I made the almond paste for this, my food processor had hardly had the chance to cool off before I starting shoving bites of the sweet almond mixture in my mouth.  It was like an almond paste induced feeding frenzy.  And then I remembered, “Wait!  This has to go in a recipe!!”.  Oh…yeah…the cookies.  Almost forgot about them.  Ahem.

I managed to gather myself and actually make the cookies.   Go me.  I wasn’t sure what recipe to use but I settled on this one from Smitten Kitchen.  Her recipes always look so amazing and this is the first one I’ve actually made (I think).  They turned out amazing…little crisp around the edges, majorly chewy and completely delicious.  I did discover that the longer they sat, the softer they became which is usually totally opposite of how it is with baked goods of any kind.  I made them on a Friday evening and by Monday they were still delicious.  After Monday….well, I don’t know, because we ate them all!!

If you’re an almond lover such as myself, you MUST try these cookies immediately.

Amaretti Cookies
 
Ingredients
Chewy Amaretti Cookies
  • 1, 7 oz. (3/4 c.) Tube Pure Almond Paste (Found in the baking aisle or you can make your own..which is what I did. See recipe below.)
  • 1 c. Granulated Sugar
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 2 Large Egg Whites, at room temperature for at least 30 minutes
Almond Paste
  • ¼ c. Granulated Sugar
  • 6 T. Powdered Sugar
  • ¾ c. Almonds (original recipe calls for blanched but I just use raw, whole almonds)
  • 2 T. Light Corn Syrup
  • 1¼ t. Pure Almond Extract
Instructions
For the Almond Paste
  1. Process almonds, powder sugar and granulated sugar in a food processor until the nuts are very finely ground. Add corn syrup and almond extract and process until the mixture is thoroughly blended and moist enough to hold together when pressed in your hand. Form into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap and an air-tight container until ready to use.
For the Cookies
  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Pulse the almond paste, sugar and salt in a food processor until broken up, then add egg white and puree until smooth. Using a 2 t. measuring spoon, drop batter onto pans, about 2 inches apart. They will spread quite a bit so make sure there is plenty of room between the cookies. I got 8 on the pan.
  3. Bake in the very center of the oven for 8 minutes, rotate pan and then bake for another 7 minutes. Let cool completely before removing from parchment paper. Store in an air-tight container.
Notes
Makes 25 cookies. TIP: To easily remove cookies from the parchment paper, gently push up on the cookie with your finger from underneath the parchment paper. It should peel away easily.

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Strawberry Almond Butter Soup

In case you haven’t noticed by now, Fridays have become the designated “healthy recipe” day.  And today I have a recipe for a sweet dessert soup to share with you!  I’ll never forget the first time I had a fruit “soup” was on the one and only cruise I took to the Bahamas after I graduated high school.  They served it with dinner one night and I fell in LOVE.  It was sweet and creamy and so refreshing!  Just like this delicious recipe!  Jeremy seemed really confused by the name and I asked a couple of times why it was called soup…but I honestly don’t know!  It’s blended in a blender but it doesn’t have ice so it’s not really a smoothie..so what else would you call it?!  Other than amazingly delicious!  We enjoyed this for dessert a couple of nights in a row and it is sooo much healthier for you than your typical after dinner fare.  It’s got fruit, protein and calcium..almost a meal in itself!

Enjoy!

Strawberry Almond Butter Soup
 
Ingredients
  • 1.5 lbs Strawberries (4 cups sliced)
  • ¼ c. Plain, Unsweetened Almond Milk
  • 2 T. Natural Almond Butter
  • ½ t. Almond Extract
  • 2 T. Agave, or to taste depending on the sweetness of your strawberries
  • Chopped strawberries and almonds, for garnish
Instructions
  1. Remove green stems off strawberries, rinse well, pat dry and slice.
  2. In a blender, add the almond milk, strawberries, almond extract and almond butter. Starting on lowest speed, blend until it comes together. Turn up the speed gradually and blend until completely smooth.
  3. Taste test and add your desired sweetener. Blend again to combine. If your blender does not puree the seeds, you can pour the soup through a fine strainer. (or just leave the seeds, which is what I did--I don't mind them)
  4. With blender cover on, place blender in the fridge and chill until very cold, a few hours or overnight. Alternatively, you could chill in a container in the freezer to speed things up. Keeps for a few days in the refrigerator.
Notes
Makes about 3 cups.

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White Chocolate Cherry Cookies

Well now that Christmas and New Year’s is behind us it’s on to the next holiday–Valentine’s Day!  There are so many cute things to make and bake for Valentine’s Day it’s really hard to know how to choose or where to start. But, I had seen these cookies on Pinterest and the ingredients alone made me want to make them immediately.  I have a thing for cherry-almond anything.  And cute, pink baked goods.

Speaking of pink, you can’t make much for a holiday that is trademarked in pink and red without using UNGODLY amounts of  dye.  And these cookies are no exception to that but you could always omit the dye and bring in the color with the sprinkles and sugar…at least it cuts back on the unnatural ingredients a little.

These were supposed to be a shortbread cookie but the dough was so incredibly dry I just couldn’t resist adding more liquid, plus I wasn’t happy with the flavor and wanted to amp up the cherry and almond in it.  They might not have quite the crumbly shortbread texture and actually more closely resemble a soft sugar cookie, but these cookies are AMAZING.  Jeremy and I could have eaten them all and according to him they are the best cookie I’ve ever made and I never need to make him a birthday cake ever again, just these cookies.  Done.

Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from BHG

White Chocolate Cherry Almond Cookies
 
Ingredients
  • 2½ c. All-Purpose Flour
  • ½ c. Granulated Sugar
  • 1 c. (2 sticks) Cold, Unsalted Butter
  • ½ c. Maraschino Cherries, drained, squeezed (somewhat) dry with paper towels and finely chopped
  • 11 oz. White Chocolate Chips
  • 3 t. Almond Extract
  • ½ t. Pure Vanilla
  • 6 T. Cherry Juice, reserved from the maraschino cherries
  • Pink or Red Dye
  • Sprinkles, sanding sugar, etc for decor
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour and sugar. Using a pastry blender or two forks (I actually prefer to use my fingers), cut in the cold butter until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Stir in drained and chopped cherries and ⅔ cup of the white chocolate chips. Stir in the cherry juice, almond extract, vanilla and food dye. Knead the mixture a bit to get it into a more cohesive mass. Pinch off a chunk of dough and form a ¾-inch ball. Place on the cookie sheet and press down slightly with a drinking glass that has been dipped in granulated sugar.
  3. Bake for 10-12 minutes (mine took 12 minutes exactly) or until the centers are set. Do not overbake. Cool for 1 minute on the cookie sheet and then transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.
  4. In a small bowl, melt the rest of the white chocolate in the microwave at 20-second intervals, stirring between each. Dip half the cookies in the melted white chocolate and decorate with sprinkles, sugar, etc. Place on foil and let dry completely.
Notes
For a thinner white chocolate coating, use use white chocolate candy melts. That's what I will use the next time.

 

 

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Healthy (yes, healthy!) Fall Inspired Desserts

Believe it or not, there are some people on diets this time of year.  Yes, DIETS, preparing/starving themselves for the two month long eat-o-rama that begins around mid-November and doesn’t stop until somewhere around the new year.  I myself believe in moderation and balance and try to get plenty of exercise and eat an overall healthy diet (I definitely do NOT believe in starvation and “diet” trends).  And I am most certainly planning on indulging during the holidays but in moderation.

So, for those more health-conscious readers out there like myself, I thought I would provide you with some healthy dessert options for you to bring to those family get-togethers.  Some are most definitely more healthy than others; there are low-fat, low-calorie, high-protein, low-sugar, etc.  Options!  That’s what I’m all about. 🙂  I’ll definitely be testing a couple (the Date Bars and Honey-Almond Cake are calling my name!) to see if they are worthy of the upcoming family festivities. I’ll post my results!

Pumpkin Spice Whoopie Pies

Chocolate Accordion Bread

Sweet Potato Cinnamon Bundt Cake with Orange Glaze

Pumpkin Rice Pudding (Scroll a just over half-way down the page to see the recipe.)

Chocolate Cupcakes

Sunny Oat-Date Bars

Apple Dumpling Cinnamon Rolls

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bars

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Coconut Cookies

Flourless Honey Almond Cake

Pumpkin Sesame Cookies

Chocolate Torte

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Birthday Cake Disaster

The other day I had a request for a birthday cake.  No problem, I thought, I can totally rock this…I’ll just do a cute little three-layer, 6-inch round cake like I’ve made before.  Done and done.  Or so I thought.

As I started to assemble the cake, the layers began slipping and sliding everywhere.  I freaked.  Why is this happening??!  Crap!  And then I started noticing how hot is was in my house…INSANELY HOT.  I looked at the thermostat–80 freakin’ degrees!!  I promptly turned the thermostat down to 75 but it was too little, too late…there was no recovering this cake.  What to do???  A trifle was my only option and thankfully the person who requested the cake was more than happy to go that route.  Whew!  So I made a decent recovery and still ended up with something that tasted amazing and looked pretty.  Gotta love baking in the heat of summer.  Lesson learned!

P.S. The trifle consists of white cake, homemade raspberry filling and white chocolate almond cream cheese frosting.  YUM.

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Pie Is The New Cupcake?

The word on the street is that 2011 is the year that pie makes its big comeback and replaces the seemingly untouchable cupcake at the top of the dessert hierarchy.  Now I hate to be the one to point this out but we’re more than half-way through the year and I still see cupcakes EVERYWHERE.  Pie…not so much.  It does seem however, that pie sells are up quite a bit according to this L.A. Times article, so perhaps the trend is just beginning.  Either way, I have always loved pie and will be glad to indulge in the craze once it hits full force.

Some of my favorite pies are fruit pies…mostly the ones that my grandma would make when we were young with the fruit from her backyard.  My grandparents grew everything from gooseberries to strawberries to onions and green beans.  They also had pear and cherry trees.  So we’d regularly have Sunday lunch at their house and always had a pie.  Gooseberry and cherry were my favorites.  I also love chocolate cream pie, coconut cream pie, banana cream pie, pecan pie, pumpkin pie…the list goes on.  I guess I really don’t discriminate when it comes to dessert–it’s all good!

Check out these pie recipes from some of my favorite bloggers.  These are some drool-worthy pictures people…I’m pretty sure I gained five pounds just looking at them!

Have a lovely evening!

Brownie Pecan Pie from Bakerella

Sour Cherry Pie with Almond Crumble from Smitten Kitchen

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie from Pioneer Woman

Pie Pops from Luxirare

 

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Homemade Whipped Cream

Did you know that before there was Cool Whip people actually made homemade whipped cream in their very own homes?  It’s true.  And although you may think that there is no reason to ever make your own homemade whipped cream when you can simply wander down an aisle in the freezer section of your grocery store, pick out a tub and purchase it for mere dollars, you are wrong my friend.  So very, very wrong.  You see, there are many things that are mass produced and sold in grocery aisles that are simply an impostor of the real thing.   Whipped cream is one of those things. In it’s homemade form it is creamy, thick, sweet and void of all the artificial junk in Cool Whip.  It is simply divine and way too easy to eat buy the spoonful.

And let me tell you it is EASY to make.  I am not kidding.  I don’t know why people automatically assume things like this are hard, but they are not.  And once you try it, you’ll never go back to store bought.  Below I’ve given you my recipe for homemade whipped cream and a few suggestions for uses and how to take it to the next level, beyond vanilla.

Enjoy!

Homemade Whipped Cream

1 c. Heavy Whipping Cream

3 1/2 T. Powder Sugar

2 t. Pure Vanilla Extract

Directions

Place your mixer bowl and whip into the freezer for 30 minutes to an hour.  You want it to be as cold as possible when you whip your cream.  Place the heavy whipping cream in your mixer and whip it on high until it is thick and stiff. Add sugar and vanilla and mix thoroughly.

Makes about 2 cups whipped cream.

Tips and Uses

-Feel free to add more or less sugar depending on how sweet your prefer your whipped cream.  Just remember, you can always add more of something but you can’t take away, so add in small increments whether sugar, flavorings, spices, etc.

-You can use homemade whipped cream in any recipe that calls for Cool Whip.  Top pies with it, use it for dipping fruit, cookies, etc.  Also makes a yummy frosting for cupcakes and cakes.

Variations

-I made a chocolate amaretto whipped cream by simply adding a bit of cocoa powder and almond extract.  SO good.

-Cinnamon, Nutmeg, other spices

-Oils and Extracts (LorAnn Oils is great–find them in craft stores or buy online)

-Lemon, Lime or Orange Zest

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Snickerdoodle Bars

I’ve made an amazing discovery this week…SIMPLE can be good.  Really, really, really good.  Thanks to being extremely short on time and ingredients, I happened to find a recipe that I now want to make over and over again.  These Snickerdoodle Bars are snickerdoodle perfection, totally chewy and buttery and cinnamony and sugary.  Ya know, all those yummy adjectives that end in “y”.

Take an hour or so this weekend and whip these up.  You won’t be sorry, I promise.

Snickerdoodle Bars

2 1/3 c. AP Flour

1 1/4 t. Baking Powder

1/2 t. Salt

3/4 c. (1 1/2 sticks) Unsalted Butter, softened

1 1/4 c. Granulated Sugar

1/2 c. Packed Brown Sugar

3 Eggs

2 t. Pure Vanilla Extract

Cinnamon Filling

2 T. Granulated Sugar

2 T. Cinnamon

Directions

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease the bottom and sides of a 9×13 baking pan.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.  In a mixer, beat the butter and both sugars on high speed until light and fluffy.  Beat in eggs, one at a time and then the vanilla.  On low speed, beat in the dry ingredients until combined.

Spoon two-thirds of the batter into the baking pan and spread evenly.  Mix the cinnamon and sugar together in a small bowl and sprinkle evenly over the batter.  Dollop tablespoon size amounts of the remaining batter evenly over the cinnamon-sugar mixture.

Bake 25 minutes or until golden brown and toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool completely.

Glaze

1 c. Powdered Sugar

2 T. Heavy Whipping Cream

1 T. Milk

1/4 t. Pure Vanilla Extract

1/4 t. Almond Extract

Directions

Whisk together all the ingredients at once until smooth and drizzle over the cooled bars.

Makes 24 bars

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Black Forest Cake

A couple of weeks ago the sun was shining, birds were singing and people were cruising around with their windows down and hair blowing in the wind.  Naturally, this kind of weather called for grilling!  So we headed over to my in-laws house to chow down on some grilled hamburgers and hot dogs.  Our contribution to the meal was a cake and not just any cake but a Black Forest Cake!  My aunt Tammy used to make this cake years ago and someone mentioned it the other day which sparked the memory of cakes past and got my mouth watering.  So since I had never made one I decided it was time.  Here are a few pics of it all coming together.

Cherries

Chopped chocolate

Cherries and chocolate…these are a few of my most favorite things.

Cakes coming out of oven

All the yummy layers.

2 Layers

More 2 layers

4 layers

Attempting to frost with the whipped cream–quite the challenge.

Frosting

More frosting

And the finished product!

Finished close up

Finished

So, a few things I learned.

1. This cake requires a great deal of patience.  While not difficult, it is time consuming to make all of the components and put it all  together.

2.  Whipped cream doesn’t make the best frosting.  Don’t get me wrong it looks pretty and tastes amazing but what a pain in the butt to put on!  I will probably frost the sides with a dark chocolate frosting next time and leave the whipped cream for the layers and the top of the cake.

3.  Never throw an almost completed cake in the trash no matter how badly you want to!  I had just a few issues with the cake (little lopsided, some “juicing” out the bottom, difficulty frosting, etc) and I really thought it was just no good but thankfully my husband talked me off the ledge and boy am I glad he did!  The cake was soooo good!

I haven’t made a lot of cakes in my time (this was probably the third?) but it’s always a learning experience and the finished product is definitely worth the effort!

Black Forest Cake

Ingredients

2 1/8 c All-Purpose Flour
2 c White Sugar
3/4 c Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 1/2 t Baking Powder
3/4 t Baking Soda
3/4 t Salt
3 Eggs
1 c Milk
1/2 c Vegetable Oil
1 T Pure Vanilla Extract
3, 14.5 oz Cans Pitted Sour Cherries, drained with juice reserved
1 c White Sugar
1/4 c. Cornstarch
1/4-1/2 c Kirsch

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour two, 9 in. round cake pans and line with parchment paper.

In a mixing bowl, combine flour, 2 cups sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat until well blended.  Divide batter evenly into two pans and bake for 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.  Cool layers in pans on wire racks 10 minutes.  Loosen edges and remove to racks to cool completely.

Combine 1/2 c. reserved juice, cherries, 1 c sugar and cornstarch in a 2 quart saucepan.  Cook over low heat until thickened, stirring frequently.  (Be patient, it will take awhile)  Stir in vanilla and cool.  Move to fridge to speed up cooling.  Stir in kirsch.

(While cake and cherries are cooling, make simple syrup, ganache and whipped cream.  See recipes below.)

Split each cake layer horizontally.  Place one cake layer on cake plate/stand.  Brush on simple syrup with a pastry brush.  Spread on thin layer of ganache.  Cover with layer of whipped cream and then cherries.  Repeat with next three layers, but instead of spreading cherries on top layer, first frost the whole cake with the whipped cream and let firm up in freezer.  Apply final frosting of whipped cream and then spread the cherries into center of the top of cake and pipe whipped cream around the edges.  Decorate sides with chopped chocolate.  Or frost sides with chocolate buttercream instead of whipped cream.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Simple Syrup

1/2 c Juice (from drained cherries)
1/2 c White Sugar
1/4 c. Kirsch

Simmer juice and sugar until sugar is dissolved.  Add kirsch after syrup has cooled.

Ganache

12 oz. Semi-Sweet Chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 c Heavy Whipping Cream

Place chocolate in a medium bowl.  Heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Bring just to a boil.  Pour over the chopped chocolate.  Let sit for one minute and then whisk until smooth.  Let cool completely.

Whipped Cream

5 c Heavy Whipping Cream
1 c Powder Sugar
3 T. Pure Vanilla Extract

Chill mixing bowl and whisk in freezer for 30 minutes.  Remove and place heavy whipping cream in mixing bowl.  Whip on high speed until cream thickens.  Add powder sugar and vanilla extract.

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Godiva Chocolate Rewards

Choc 1

Chocolate is good. Certain chocolate (ahem, dark) can even be divine. But sometimes it tastes even better when it’s FREE. Which is why the Godiva Chocolate Rewards Club is so sweet! (Lame, I know.) If you’ve never heard of the program, I am here to bring a little extra joy to your life once a month.

All you need to do is head into your local Godiva boutique, hand over some non-intrusive personal info (name, address, email) and you’re in! It’s fairly quick and painless to sign up and definitely worth it. So, once a month you can go in, flash your Godiva Chocolate Rewards card and snag a piece of free chocolate bliss. It’s a nice little no-cost pick me up after you’ve spent all your money shopping at the mall and are having a slight case of buyer’s remorse. Not that I would know anything about that.

There are also lots of other perks that you can check out here. The only downside of the club that I’ve found thus far is that you are limited to one piece of chocolate. I end up standing in front of the display case for at least five minutes, drooling over the selection and agonizing over which one I want while the salesperson looks at me like I’m crazy. This typically results in me cracking under the pressure and purchasing at least one chocolate in addition to my free piece. Sigh.

I’m sure it’s all part of Godiva’s evilly delicious plan and I’m playing right into their hands.

Choc 2

Oh and in case you are wondering, the chocolates above (from back left to right) are the Almond Marzipan, Macadamia Mosaic, Strawberry White Chocolate Truffle, Praline Crescent and Dark Ganache Heart.

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