Dark Chocolate Strawberry Cream Cake

If you are looking for a super decadent, rich, absolutely DELICIOUS and most importantly HEALTHY chocolate cake–look no further! I can honestly say this is maybe the best chocolate cake I’ve ever had and I can only guess it has something to do with the crazy amount of avocado in it! Yes, avocado!

I just love avocado. Although you’d NEVER guess it was in this cake. All you’ll taste is chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate! Oh and some strawberry. 😉 Avocado is so great for chocolate desserts, like this Chocolate Avocado Pudding and I’ve also seen chocolate frosting recipes that use it in place of butter although I have yet to try it myself! It really is the ultimate super food!

What makes this cake even better is the fact that it is totally dairy-free, gluten-free and refined sugar-free! Enjoy a big ‘ole slice without any guilt!

Dark Chocolate Strawberry Cream Cake
Author: 
Category: Cake
 
Ingredients
Dark Chocolate Cake
  • 3 c. Chopped Avocado (4-5 large), pureed
  • ¾ c. Xylitol
  • ¾ c. Sucanat
  • ¼ c. Agave (optional)
  • 4 Large Eggs
  • 3 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 ½ c. Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • ½ c. Special Dark Cocoa Powder (or use another ½ cup regular)
  • ½ t. Sea Salt
  • 1 t. Espresso Powder
  • 2 t. Baking Soda
  • 1 c. Enjoy Life Dark Chocolate Chunks (optional)
Chocolate Whipped Cream
  • 1, 14.5 oz. Canned Full-Fat Coconut Cream, chilled in fridge (unopened) for at least 5-8 hours or overnight
  • 2-3 T. Refined Coconut Oil, softened
  • Pinch Sea Salt
  • 2 t. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 2 t. Cocoa Powder
  • 2 T. Agave
  • 2 Packets Truvia (or use couple teaspoons of powdered stevia, etc)
Other
  • 1 c. Sliced Strawberries
  • ½ c. Enjoy Life Dark Chocolate Chunks, melted
Instructions
For the Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray two, round 9x9-inch pans with non-stick spray and line with parchment paper.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer on low speed, beat the avocado puree, xylitol, sucanat and agave until smooth. Beat in the eggs and vanilla until fully incorporated.
  3. Beat in remaining ingredients (except chocolate chunks). Stir in dark chocolate chunks.
  4. Divide batter evenly between the two pans--it will be VERY thick. Bake for 22-25 minutes until a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool completely on a wire rack.
For the Chocolate Whipped Cream
  1. Place the metal bowl and whisk of an electric mixer in the freezer for at least 30 minutes (if you don’t have an electric mixer, a bowl and whisk should work as well).
  2. Place the thick cream part of the chilled coconut milk (you can just discard the liquid if there is any or save for smoothies, etc) into the chilled electric mixer bowl and whisk the coconut milk, coconut oil, salt, vanilla, cocoa powder, agave and truvia on medium/high speed until fully combined and thick. Refrigerate or use immediately on cake.
To Assemble
  1. Remove chilled cakes from pans and peel away parchment paper. Put one cake on a large plate or cake stand. Spread ½ of the whipped on the first cake layer.
  2. Top with the second cake layer and spread with the remaining whipped Cream
  3. Place strawberry slices around the outer edge and drizzle with melted chocolate. Serve immediately or refrigerate covered until ready to serve.

 

 

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Dark Chocolate Fudge Sauce

It’s summertime and we’ve been eating lots of ice cream around here! The other day I was craving the Jamoca Almond Fudge ice cream from Baskin Robbins which I haven’t had for YEARS and decided to recreate the coffee and chocolate ice cream concoction. So I whipped up a coffee ice cream and topped it with a hot fudge sauce and some roasted almonds…all dairy and refined sugar FREE, of course.

The coffee ice cream turned out fabulous and I may share that recipe another day but for now I wanted to share this awesome Dark Chocolate Fudge Sauce! The recipe I adapted it from called it a hot fudge sauce but when I warmed it up I got it a little TOO hot and it got too thin for my liking so I did away with the “hot” part and just left it at fudge! If you warm it up just a bit, it maintains a nice, thick, creamy texture and it really is perfect on ice cream or fruit!

Free of all the nasty chemicals, refined sugar, processed oil and whatever else goes into the store-bought kind and this one is spoon-licking good! And yes, it’s totally ok to just eat it straight from the jar. 🙂

Dark Chocolate Fudge Sauce
Author: 
Category: Dessert
 
Ingredients
  • 1, 14 oz. Can Full Fat Coconut Milk
  • ½ c. Sucanat
  • 1 T. Agave
  • ⅓ c. Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • Pinch Sea Salt
  • 2 T. Coconut Oil
  • 2 t. Pure Vanilla Extract
Instructions
  1. Place the coconut milk, sucanat, agave, cocoa powder and salt into a small saucepan and cook over medium heat, whisking frequently, until mixture comes to a boil.
  2. Turn heat to low-medium and simmer for 10 minutes, still whisking frequently.
  3. Remove from heat and whisk in coconut oil and vanilla.
  4. Allow the sauce to cool for 20 minuets. A thin film will form over the top as it cools, but simply whisk it before pouring it into an airtight glass container.
  5. Store in the refrigerator. Warm up VERY slightly and give a good stir to get a nice, creamy texture.

 

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Chocolate Hummus

Surprise! It’s me. 🙂 Yep, I’m blogging again…a year later! I took a break to do a little something called bhsmealplans.com (ebook coming soon!) and while it was a great year of creating, testing and perfecting recipes, I’m ready to get back to blogging!

I decided to give the ‘ole blog a fresh new look (thanks to my super talented and creative hubby) and even a new direction…HEALTHY desserts! It’s my true passion and pretty much the only type of sweet anything that happens in this house most likely contains chia seeds, some kind of nut butter and agave. 😀 Whereas I used to never run out of butter, refined sugar and all-purpose flour, I don’t even keep those things stocked!

I’m super excited about the new direction for Desserted Planet and started to think about what recipe I’d debut my new-ish blog with but instead of agonizing FOREVER about the recipe I wanted to use, I decided to just do one that I make ALOT around here and my kids LOVE–Chocolate Hummus!

It’s super easy, great for dessert OR breakfast (yes we totally eat it for breakfast) and just good. Really, really good! So here you go, hope you try it and find it as incredibly yummy as we do!

Chocolate Hummus
Author: 
Category: Dessert
 
Ingredients
  • 1, 15 oz. Can Garbanzo Beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 T. Unsweetened Cocoa
  • 1 t. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • ¼ c. All-Natural Almond Butter (I’ve also used cashew butter and it’s yummy)
  • ¼ c. plus 2 T. Unsweetened Cashew or Almond Milk
  • ¼ c. plus 2 T. Agave (or sweetener of choice)
  • ⅛ t. Cinnamon (use less or omit if you don’t care for cinnamon)
  • Pinch of Sea Salt
  • Enjoy Life Mini Chocolate Chips (for topping--optional)
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a high powered blender and blend until smooth and creamy.
  2. Refrigerate until completely chilled, topped with mini chocolate chips and serve with strawberries, grapes, sliced bananas, sliced apples, whole grain graham crackers, etc.
Notes
Makes 10-12 servings.

 

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Sweetened Condensed Milk Cake

Sweetened Condensed Milk Cake with Powdered Sugar

Doesn’t the title of that cake just sound divine?  I have always loved sweetened condensed milk and quite truthfully could eat it by the spoonful and have.  Healthy, I know.   So what is a sweetened condensed milk cake like?   It’s…different.  But in a good way!

Sweetened Condensed Milk Cake

Sweetened Condensed Milk Cake Slice

This recipe is by one of my favorite foodie personalities, Claire Thomas, of The Kitchy Kitchen and I think she describes the cake perfectly when she says it has a sweet, eggy flavor and is like a less buttery, denser brioche.  So almost like a very dense sweet bread.  I did a dusting of powdered sugar and lemon zest but I think next time I’ll do a little orange zest in the batter and orange marmalade with homemade whipped cream to top it off.  Or do a lemon curd with it!  It’s so different and so good and just a beautiful, simple cake.  Perfect Easter Sunday dessert!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Sweetened Condensed Milk Cake
 
Ingredients
  • 8 Eggs, room temperature
  • 2, 14 oz. Cans Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 1 stick Unsalted Butter, melted
  • ¼ t. Salt
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 2 c. All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 t. Baking Powder
  • Powdered Sugar
  • Orange/Lemon Zest
  • Homemade Whipped Cream (see link above)
  • Homemade Orange Marmalade (or lemon curd) (see link above)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9-inch bundt pan.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the eggs. Pour in the sweetened condensed milk and beat until pale yellow and smooth, then pour in the melted butter, salt and vanilla and beat until blended. Whisk together the flour and baking powder and with the mixer on low, add a little at a time until just incorporated. Pour into the greased bundt pan and bake for 60-75 minutes ( mine took 60) until cake is slightly browned and a tester comes out clean. Let cool completely and remove from pan. Top with powdered sugar and citrus zest and serve with lemon/orange curd and homemade whipped cream.
Notes
Serves 20.

 

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Simple Strawberry Cupcakes with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

This recipe was inspired my two things:  1.  The abundance of strawberries AND strawberry recipes right now and 2. my brand spankin’ new cupcake carrier!  That’s right, I FINALLY am the proud owner of a collapsible cupcake carrier (yes, I had to improvise for quite awhile to transport them!) all thanks to my boss.  A couple of weeks ago it was Administrative Assistant’s Day and my boss was out of town so obviously I knew I wouldn’t get anything and it wasn’t a big deal to me.  But he got back the Friday of that week and when I came back from lunch, this beauty was sitting on my desk.  Ain’t she purty?  And can I just say this thing ROCKS??  It’s both a cake and a cupcake carrier.  I was a little skeptical it would work, but it totally does and I highly recommend getting one if you don’t have one yet!

As for the recipe, do you know how hard it is to find a strawberry cake recipe that doesn’t call for strawberry Jello and a white cake mix?  It’s dang near impossible!  But a couple of years ago and did manage to find one and for the life of me I can’t remember the website I got the recipe from but all I know is it’s titled Katie’s Strawberry Cake, so whoever Katie is, thank you!!  I was so happy when I found the recipe that I made it three times within two weeks…yes, it’s that good.

The method of this cake is a little different because you beat the butter into the dry ingredients and then add the liquid but have no doubt, it totally works.  I absolutely loved these cupcakes…there were small pieces of fresh strawberry in every other bite and the chocolate cream cheese frosting was to-die-for.  The only thing I’d do different is maybe just leave the chocolate out of the frosting next time and do a plain, vanilla cream cheese frosting, as the strawberry cake is such a delicate flavor it almost overpowers it.  But it’s still delicious.

If you are looking for a true “from scratch” strawberry cake, look no further!  This one definitely fits the bill.

Simple Strawberry Cupcakes with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
 
Ingredients
Strawberry Cupcakes
  • 1 c. Strawberry Puree, room temperature (see below for recipe)
  • ¼ c. Whole Milk, room temperature
  • 6 Large Egg Whites, room temperature
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 2¼ c. Cake Flour
  • 1¾ c. Granulated Sugar
  • 4 t. Baking Powder
  • 1 t. Salt
  • 12 T. (1½ sticks) Unsalted Butter, softened and cut into 1" chunks
Strawberry Puree
  • 2 c. Sliced Strawberries
  • 2 T. Granulated Sugar
Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 1 Stick Unsalted Butter, softened
  • 1, 8 oz. Cream Cheese, cold
  • ¼ c. Crisco
  • ¼ t. Salt
  • 3 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 5 c. Powdered Sugar
  • 4 oz. Unsweetened Chocolate, melted
Instructions
For the Strawberry Puree
  1. Place strawberries and sugar in food processor or blender and puree.
For the Strawberry Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line muffin tins with 24 cupcake liners.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the strawberry puree, milk, egg, vanilla and whisk well. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt and whisk thoroughly. Beat the butter into the dry ingredients on low speed and mix until combined and resembling moist crumbs.
  3. Add liquids to the butter/flour mixture and beat a medium speed for about one minutes or until evenly combined. Stop mixer, scrape down sides of bowl and beat for 30 more seconds. Place three tablespoons of batter into each muffin tin.
  4. Bake cupcakes for 18-20 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Let cupcakes cool for a few minutes and then remove from pans and let cool completely.
For the Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
  1. Cream the butter, shortening, cream cheese, salt and extracts on medium speed until combined. Beat in the powdered sugar and then the melted chocolate and beat until combined (do NOT overbeat or the cream cheese will break down). Frost cupcakes with chocolate cream cheese frosting.
Notes
Makes 24 cupcakes.

 

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McDonald’s Mash-Ups

McDonald's Hotcakes with Berries from their Fruit n' Yogurt Parfait, topped with their Granola and Syrup.

Ok who hasn’t at least once dipped their fries from their favorite fast food joint into some soft-serve ice cream?? That’s right, no one!  My favorite part about going to Wendy’s when I was a kid was dipping those hot, salty, crisp french fries into a cold, chocolate Frosty…no wonder I was a fat kid!  I also loved dipping my chicken nuggets from McDonald’s into honey–it’s good people, trust me!  Needless to say I got a total kick out of this food writer’s experimentation with some shall we say, unique dessert creations at McDonald’s.  Click here to see a slideshow with all six sweet monstrosities from the home of the golden arches.

What is YOUR favorite dessert mash-up from a fast food joint??

 

 

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Sweets for Superbowl 2012

Sometimes I make the mistake of doing, ahem, research for my blog when I’m hungry.  And it never ends well.  After looking at numerous varieties of desserts for this post, it was all I could do to not go into my kitchen, get a huge bowl of peanut butter, sprinkle it with dark chocolate chips and crushed graham crackers and call it dinner.  But I didn’t!  Instead, I had a sensible meal of garden lasagna (delicious!) and refrained from eating every bit of sugar in my house.  Just a word of caution!

Any of these desserts would be GREAT for a Superbowl party.  I tried to choose things that were fairly simply and not too labor intensive.  After all, you’ve barely recovered from Christmas baking!  I really don’t think you can go wrong with whatever recipe you choose–they’re all delicious.  And next week I’ll have football themed desserts if you’re feeling a little more crafty with your baking…football shaped sweets are just too darn cute!

Brownies

The Baked Brownie

 

King Arthur Flour Brownie

 

S’mores Brownie

 

Caramel Coconut Pecan Brownies

 

Blondies

Peanut Butter Blondies

 

Fondue

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Fondue, Salted Caramel Pecan Fondue and Apple Cinnamon Fondue

Chocolate Orange Fondue

Mocha Fondue

 

White Chocolate Fondue

Dessert Pizza

Apple Pie Pizza

Sugar Cookie & Fruit Pizza

Banana Split Brownie Pizza

Rocky Road Cookie Pizza

Cookies

NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookies

 

Oatmeal Cookies

 

Butterscotch Gingerbread Cookies

Snickerdoodle Cookies

Peanut Butter Potato Chip Cookies

Monster Cookies

Turtle Cookies

Mudslide Cookies

 

Snack Mixes

Sweet and Salty Chocolate Caramel Pretzel Mix

Gluten-Free Popcorn, Cereal & White Chocolate Mix

Sweet & Spicy Mix

Maple Cinnamon Cereal Mix

Pumpkin Spiced Mix

 

Puppy Chow

 Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Popcorn

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Dessert Trends of 2011

Looking back on the world of pastry in 2011, it was a pretty good year.  But there was some not-so-good mixed in according to a few food critics.  What made the list of good and bad??  Find out now!

Up first…cake pops!  While cupcakes are the number one sugary obsession with just about every living, breathing human being, cake pops came in a close second during the past year.  People call these things crack on a stick and eat them like they truly are!!  Personally, I prefer my cake and frosting separate and in layers.  But that’s just me.  Read more about the “worst” food trends (including cake pops) here.

Hello Kitty Cake Pops by Bakerella

Also noted in the aforementioned article, savory sweets.  Cheese and bacon cupcakes??  Salami flavored marshmallows?!  Umm, no thanks!  While there is a place for a touch of savory at times (think bacon maple cupcakes or beer infused baked goods), there’s a fine line between good and gross.

Jalapeno Bacon Cupcakes by mybakingheart.com

Speaking of beer, it became very trendy to use it in baking as noted by Serious Eats.  From beer brittle to these beer and pretzel caramels, it looks like it will be making more appearances in baked goods in the future.  And I have nothing against that.

Beer Pretzel Caramel. Image Courtesy of Serious Eats.

Serious Eats also noted the macaron trend, perhaps my most favorite of all cookie sandwiches.  This is a trend that I hope continues to grow.

French Macarons. Image courtesy Serious Eats.

Finally, a trend in Miami that some there wish would disappear…mini cupcakes.  They don’t like them.  Not one bit.

Mini Cupcakes from thecupcakeblog.com

So what do you think about these trends??  Do you agree with the critics?  I think overall 2011 was a pretty good year for desserts and I definitely can’t wait to see what 2012 has in store!

 

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A Vintage Christmas

I am so in love with this pretty, pastel vintage Christmas dessert table.  If only I had time to squeeze in another Christmas party before this weekend, I’d so do this.  For now I’ll just have to be happy with looking at these pictures…over and over and over again.

 

If you’d like to see more of the photos, you can check them out here.   Hope everyone is having a great week so far!  Only a couple days until Christmas!

 

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Vogue Girl-Cake for Princess

I haven’t done a lot of non-dessert recipe posts on my blog–as a matter of fact, I’m not sure if I’ve ever done any!  But, I saw these pictures from Vogue Girl that someone had shared on Facebook and I knew that I just HAD to put them on my blog.  I love everything about these pictures from the chandeliers to the tables to the way the models are posed…and of course the desserts!  Just beautiful.  I plan to be doing more posts like these in the future…not necessarily a recipe, but always dessert-related.

I hope you enjoy these photos as much as I did.  Have a lovely evening!

 

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Iced Lemon Shortbread Bars

 

I’ve decided I’m going to try and invoke summer by baking with nothing but summer-y type things…lemons, strawberries, blueberries, etc.  It might not work but I figure it’s worth a shot, I mean, enough with the cold weather already!  And the rain, oh the rain…sigh.

Anyway, in the spirit of all things light and summerish I whipped up these Iced Lemon Shortbread Bars.  Believe it or not, you make this whole recipe in your food processor!  How easy is that?!  And the result is a super flaky, buttery shortbread bar flecked with lemon zest and tart lemon flavor.  Forget chocolate, this is the kind of stuff that isn’t too rich and so delicious that I could eat the whole pan!  But I didn’t…I shared.

Enjoy!

Iced Lemon Shortbread Bars

1 1/2 c. AP Flour

1/3 c. Cornstarch

1/2 c. Powdered Sugar

2 1/2 T. Granulated Sugar

2 T. Finely Grated Lemon Zest (you will need about 3 large lemons total for this recipe)

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

1/4 t. Salt

2 t. Fresh Lemon Juice

1/2 t. Lemon Extract

Icing (recipe below)

Directions

Lightly grease a 9-inch square baking pan.  Line the pan with foil, letting the foil overhang to create “handles”.  Grease the bottom and sides of the foil.

In a medium bowl, thoroughly whisk together the flour and cornstarch; set aside.  In a food processor, process the powdered sugar, sugar and lemon zest until the sugar in yellow and the zest is finely pulverized, about 3 minutes, stopping and scraping down the bowl sides several times.  Add the butter, salt, lemon juice, and lemon extract and process until well blended and fluffy, about 1 minute.  Sprinkle the flour mixture over the butter mixture and process in on/off pulses until well blended and smooth, stopping and scraping down the bowl sides several times.

Turn the dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap, form into a disc, wrap and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes or until the dough is cool and slightly firmer.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Press the dough evenly into the pan.  Lay a sheet of wax paper on the dough, then press it out to the edges until the top is flat and smooth.  Peel off and discard the paper.  Bake for 37-45 (40 minutes was perfect for me) minutes, or until pale golden all over and just slightly darker at the edges.  Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let stand until completely cooled.  Using the foil “handles”, gently lift the bars from the pan.

Icing

2 T. Granulated Sugar

1 t. Finely Grated Lemon Zest

2 T. Fresh Lemon Juice

1 t. Light Corn Syrup

1 c. Powdered Sugar

Directions

In a food processor, combine the sugar and lemon zest and process until the sugar is lightly colored and the zest is finely pulverized, about 1 minute, stopping and scraping down the bowl sides once or twice.  Add the lemon juice and corn syrup and process until the sugar dissolves. Add the powdered sugar and process until evenly incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl, if necessary.

Immediately spread the icing evenly over the shortbread.  Let stand for 5 minutes.

Cut the shortbread into 2-inch squares.

Makes 24.

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Cherry Sweet Rolls with Almond Cream Cheese Glaze

Let’s start with the obvious: today is Mother’s Day.  I love my mom, she’s the best.  Recently, she had been mentioning how much she loves those Hostess Cherry Sweet Rolls (sorry, this is the only pic I could find) from the grocery store and how they’re so good and she hadn’t had them in soooo long, etc, etc, etc.  So that got me thinking, why don’t I make those cherry sweet rolls? After all, she deserved a LOT more than flowers from Wal-mart.  I got to researching and quickly realized I’d be making this recipe up.  Thankfully, I already had a great cherry filling recipe so I just needed the dough and glaze.

I didn’t have a ton of time so I settled on a quick dough recipe from Allrecipes.com for Ninety Minute Cinnamon Rolls.  The only change I made was to throw in some vanilla.  As for the glaze, I found two different recipes for cream cheese glaze that I combined because I couldn’t make up my mind on either one.

I made the cherry filling a little ahead of time which I recommend doing, maybe the day before, that way it has time to cool completely.    I was still extremely short on time though, so the rolls only rose for about 20 minutes on the second rise.  I was really nervous how these would turn out, but to my surprise the dough recipe worked perfectly and the fluffed up nice and big in the oven.  The end result was a delicious, soft cherry-filled sweet roll, definitely better than the ones from the store!  And my mom approved which was of course the most important part!

Enjoy!

Cherry Sweet Rolls with Cream Cheese Glaze

Cherry Filling

2, 14.5 oz. Cans Pitted Sour Cherries, drained with 1/2 c.  juice reserved

1 c. Granulated Sugar

1/4 c. Cornstarch

1 t. Pure Vanilla Extract

Directions

Combine 1/2 c. reserved juice, cherries, sugar ad cornstarch in a medium saucepan.  Cook over low heat until thickened, stirring frequently.  (Be patient, it will take awhile but they will magically thicken around the 25 minute mark)  Stir in vanilla and cool completely.  Set aside.

Sweet Dough

3/4 c. Whole Milk

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

3 1/4 c. AP Flour

1 (.25 oz) Package Instant Yeast

1/4 c. Granulated Sugar

1/2 t. Salt

1/2 t. Pure Vanilla Extract

1 Large Egg

1/4 c. Water

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Heat the milk in a small saucepan over medium heat until it bubbles, then remove it from the heat and stir in the butter until melted.  Let cool to lukewarm.

Meanwhile, in a mixer, combine 2 1/4 c. flour, yeast, sugar and salt and whisk well.  Add water, egg, vanilla and the milk mixture.  Beat well.  Add the remaining flour, 1/4 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition.  When the dough has just pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, about 5 minutes.

Cover the dough with a damp cloth and let rest for 10 minutes.  Grease a 9×13 pan.

Roll dough out on a lightly floured surface, into a 24×18 rectangle.  (It will be very elasticy and will not seem to want to roll out at first but be persistent and it will eventually roll out)  Spread the dough with the cherry filling, to about an inch from the edges.  At the edge nearest you, begin to roll the dough, using your fingers to tuck in the cherries as you go.  Pinch the seam to seal and cut the dough into 12 equal size rolls and place into the pan, evenly spaced.

Bake for 20 minutes and let cool for about 10 minutes.  Spread with glaze while still warm.

Almond Cream Cheese Glaze

4 oz. Cream Cheese, softened

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

1 c. Powder Sugar, sifted

4 T. Heavy Whipping Cream (or Whole Milk)

1/2 t. Vanilla

1 t. Almond Extract

Directions

Beat cream cheese and butter until smooth.  Gradually add sugar, beating well after each addition.  Add milk, vanilla extract and almond extract.  Spread over warm rolls.

Makes 12 rolls

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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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Perfect Party Cupcakes

I’ve not had very good luck with cupcakes in the past.  I mean, really, cupcakes?!?  Five-year-olds can make them!  I’ve filled the pans too full and had the batter overflow as they baked.  I’ve tried rotating the pans and ended up dumping half-baked cupcakes all over my oven door.  I’ve baked them perfectly (or so I thought) only to find out they were as hard as rocks when I removed them from the pan.  I mean, I’ve cried over cupcakes.  It’s bad.

So this past weekend I had a request for cupcakes.   “This is it”, I thought,  “time to get over my fear.  Time to conquer the cupcake!”  A little melodramatic, I suppose but I literally felt like I was going into a baking battle and I was determined to win.  I got to researching and found what I hoped to be the best white cake ever.

So, guess what?  I didn’t ruin them!  Yay!  And just like the name says, this truly is a perfect white cake.  Super moist, tender and a fine crumb.  All the good qualities you would want in a cake.  Dorie Greenspan knows her stuff and this cake recipe (with my tiny modifications) proves it.

Oh and please forgive my decorating skills.  I’m used to doing things that taste awesome and don’t have to look pretty so I was poorly equipped to make these resemble anything close to a Sprinkles cupcake.  But hey, I tried.

Perfect Party Cupcakes

1 1/2 c. Sugar

1 Stick Unsalted Butter

2 1/4 c. Cake Flour

1 T. Baking Powder

1/2 t. Salt

1 1/4 c. Whole Milk

4 Large Egg Whites

1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract

Buttercream (recipe below)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a regular muffin tin with cupcake liners.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.  In another bowl, whisk together the milk and egg whites.  In a mixer, beat sugar and butter on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Beat the vanilla into the sugar and butter mixture.

Add one-third of the flour mixture to the sugar and butter, still beating on medium speed.  Beat in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated.  Add the rest of the milk and eggs, beating until fully incorporated then add the last of the dry ingredients.

Finally, give the batter a good 2-minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated.  Spoon 3-4 tablespoons of the batter into the lined muffin tins or until they are 2/3 full.  Bake for 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.

Makes 24.

Buttercream Dream Frosting

2 Sticks Unsalted Butter

1 c. Shortening

1/8 t. Salt

2 T. Pure Vanilla Extract

2 pounds (7.5 c.) Powdered Sugar, sifted

4 T. Very Cold Heavy Whipping Cream (or milk)

Pink Dye (optional)

Directions

Cream the butter and shortening in the bowl of an electric mixer until fluffy.  Add the salt and vanilla extract and combine well.  Begin adding in the sugar, one cup at a time and mix thoroughly after each addition.  After all of the sugar has been added and mixed thoroughly, begin adding the the very cold heavy whipping cream one tablespoon at a time, combining well after each addition.  Beat on medium-high speed for 3 minutes to reach desired consistency.  Color with dye, if using, and frost cupcakes.

 

 

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Ooey Gooey Fudge Brownies

After my little strawberry doughnut mishap this past weekend, I just HAD to get back in the kitchen and reassure myself that I could still bake.  I needed something awesome, something that was a sure thing.  And two things that I know are both:  brownies and ooey gooey butter cake.

I had a recipe idea for awhile that I’d been wanting to try.  My grand scheme was to top brownies with the filling from Ooey Gooey Butter Cake (I’m sure someone, somewhere has already done this but I  like to think it’s my own original brilliance).  I found this recipe a couple of weeks ago for brownies and they seemed too easy to be getting the rave reveiws they were raking in, but I thought why not?  Maybe I will finally find my “go-to” brownie recipe.

As for the results?  The brownies were awesome, fudgy and delicious!  And SO easy.  They were a tad undercooked since I was tinkering with the recipe and not sure about the time.  They probably could have used five more minutes.  And next time I might adjust them to have a little more of the ooey gooeyness–maybe increase that mixture by 1.5.  But, I think I have indeed found my go-to brownie recipe!  Enjoy!

Ooey Gooey Fudge Brownies

Brownies

6 oz. Unsweetened Chocolate Baking Squares, finely chopped

2 Sticks+2 T. Unsalted Butter

1 1/2 c. Firmly Packed Brown Sugar

1 c.+2 T. Granulated Sugar

5 Eggs

1 1/2 c. AP Flour

1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract

1/4 t. Salt

Ooey Gooey Filling

1, 8 oz. Package Cream Cheese, softened

2 Eggs

1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract

1, 16 oz. (3 3/4 c.) Box of Powdered Sugar

1 Stick Unsalted Butter, melted

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Generously grease bottom and sides of 9×13″ pan.

Microwave chopped chocolate and butter in a large microwave-safe bowl, stirring every 25 seconds until completely smooth and melted.  Whisk in granulated and brown sugars.  Add eggs, one at a time, whisking just until blended after each addition.  Whisk in flour, vanilla and salt.

Pour brownie mixture into pan.

Next, using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth; add eggs and vanilla.  Dump in powdered sugar and beat well.  Reduce speed of mixer and slowly pour in butter.  Mix well.  Spread evenly on brownie mixture.

Bake for 60 minutes. (I would do 65 next time since they were a tad underdone.)  Cool completely on wire rack and cut into squares.

Makes 24 brownies.

 

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White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake

Every now and then I come across a recipe that is good.  Like, really good.  And people inevitably ask me for the recipe to which I reply “Yes!  Of course I’ll give it to you!”  And then I, ummm…conveniently “forget”.  I guess it’s not very nice.  It’s just that when something is so good and people are so impressed, you hate to let them in on the fact that your famous cookie/cake/brownie/whatever you make is really not that difficult and complicated.  They might not see you as the culinary genius they think you are anymore!

But lately I’ve been rethinking my selfish ways and decided that I should start sharing some of my more coveted recipes with others.  There’s no better place to start than with this cheesecake recipe that has been my go-to for whatever–birthdays, weddings, bridal/baby showers, etc.  It is seriously fail-proof and so delicious.  Oh, and did I mention simple?  It is, I swear!

I initially got this recipe out of a Better Homes and Gardens special baking edition and it was originally Maple Pecan, I believe.  But since then, I’ve morphed it into many things…chai cheesecake, chocolate chip cheesecake, Oreo, etc.  It is that versatile.  So this time I did a white chocolate raspberry version and it turned out quite fabulous.  Super creamy with a little extra sweetness from the white chocolate and tart from the raspberries.  So go ahead, make it…and enjoy all the many compliments you will get!

White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake

2 c. Graham Cracker, processed in food processor

9 T. Unsalted Butter, melted

3, 8 oz. Packages Cream Cheese, softened

1 c. Granulated Sugar

2 T. AP Flour

3 Eggs

1/2 c. Half-and-Half

2 T. Pure Vanilla Extract

1 c. Raspberry Preserves, slightly warmed in a bowl

1 c. White Chocolate Chips, melted and slightly cooled

Directions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease a 9×13″ pan.  Line with foil, letting foil hang over ends for “handles”.  Grease foil

Mix together the processed graham crackers and butter in a bowl.  With your hands, pat down firmly into the bottom of the pan.

In mixer, combine cream cheese, granulated sugar and the 2 T. flour.  Beat with an electric mixer on medium to high speed until combined.  Add eggs all at once.  Beat on low speed just until combined.  Stir in half-and-half, vanilla and melted white chocolate chips.  Pour half of the filling into the crust-lined pan, spreading evenly.   Spoon half of the raspberry preserves over the filling and gently swirl with a knife, being careful not to cut into the crust.  Pour the other half of the filling into the pan and spoon remaining preserves onto the filling.  Swirl gently with knife.

Bake for 40 minutes or just until center is set.  Cool in pan on wire rack for 1 hour.  Cover and chill for at least 4-24 hours.  Use foil to carefully lift cheesecake from pan. (If the foil “handle” happens to rip, lift up one side as much as you can without bending the cheesecake too much, slide your hand underneath the cheesecake and lift out.)  Cut into 1-inch squares or however big you’d like them to be.

Makes about 65, 1-inch pieces.

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