Molten Chocolate Lava Cakes

Years ago when my brother just started dating his wife, he was telling me about how she’s really into making desserts.  He started to describe something that she made for him recently, and he was saying it was the best chocolate dessert he’d ever had.  So, of course that sparked my curiosity.  When I asked him what the name of it was, he said, “Um, something lava.  With Chocolate.  I don’t know, you’ll have to ask her, but it was like a warm, chocolate gooey cake.”  Not long after that, I was asking her questions.  This was before I really started getting into baking, so she picked up some custard cups for me at the store and brought them over to keep whenever I wanted to make the recipe.  This is something that’s literally been inside my head for years, but it got stuffed away with all the other wonderful recipes that I’ve been wanted to try…so it was forgotten about…until now.

molten chocolate lava cake

I highly recommend trying these out before you serve them as a dessert, unless you don’t mind your friends and family being guinea pigs just in case it comes out as chocolate soup.  But hey, chocolate soup is pretty dang delicious, too.  If that does in fact happen when you turn one cake out onto a plate, just pop the others bake into the oven for another couple of minutes.  You’ll definitely want to serve these almost immediately out of the oven when they’re warm, and the chocolate gooeyness comes oozing out of the middle of the cake when you cut into it.  You can also divide the recipe in half if you only want to make it for two people rather than four, and double it if you’re serving more people.  And to save time, you can always mix up the batter ahead of time and keep it in the fridge, then spoon it into the custard cups and bake when ready.  This way would be great if you’re serving this as a dessert following dinner.  It is insanely delicious!!

Molten Chocolate Lava Cakes Recipe:

4 oz. semisweet chocolate

1 stick butter

1 cup powdered sugar

2 whole eggs

2 egg yolks

6 tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Butter 4 (6-ounce) custard cups. Melt the chocolate and butter in the microwave, or in a double boiler. Add the flour and sugar to chocolate mixture. Stir in the eggs and yolks until smooth, stir in vanilla. Divide the batter evenly among the custard cups. Place in the oven and bake for 14 minutes. The edges should be firm but the center will be runny. Run a knife around the edges to loosen and invert onto dessert plates, top with whipped topping and caramel sauce (optional).

Buckeyes

For some reason, I forgot all about these little desserts…until recently when I saw them posted on Facebook.  The second I saw them, the memories flashed back in my head of being a kid and shoving as many of these things into my mouth that I could get.  Although my family worships peanut butter (literally…my brother has two dogs named Peanut and Butter), we didn’t make these, so it was a special treat when they showed up somewhere for dessert.  The process of making these is similar to making Oreo Truffles, but these are actually easier to make.  Partly because the dipping process is faster, since the tops are open.  Using a toothpick also makes the process ten times easier, but since I wasn’t a big fan of the little toothpick hole in the top, I just let the peanut butter center soften slightly, then smoothed over the top to get rid of the little toothpick hole.  These were magnificent.

buckeyes

I usually try to take some sort of dessert to culinary school every couple of weeks for my classmates to indulge in, so these definitely made the list.  A girl in my class has Celiac Disease, so she’s missed out on several desserts that have come in because of their gluten content, and I feel guilty every single time.  So, when I showed up with these in my hand, I waved to her, smiled and said, “These are gluten-free!”  Not really sure if it’s a good thing or a bad thing that there are literally about 80 of these things in one batch.  They make a wonderful dessert finger food for gatherings…but watch out, because they’ll disappear quickly!

Buckeyes Recipe:

3/4 cup butter, softened

1 1/3 cups crunchy or smooth peanut butter

3 cups powdered sugar

1 package chocolate bark, melted

Beat butter and peanut butter in large bowl at medium speed with electric mixer until blended. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating until well-blended. Using a mini cookie scoop, scoop out mixture one by one onto parchment lined cookie sheet.  Place in refrigerator to harden, about 30 minutes.  Melt chocolate bark  in 30 second intervals in microwave, stirring in between each interval until completely melted.  Using a tooth pick or wooden skewer, dip each ball into chocolate–coating 3/4 of the ball. Place on wax or parchment paper, uncoated side up. Let stand until chocolate sets up. Store in airtight container at room temperature or in refrigerator.

Chocolate Zucchini Brownies

Looking for a good way to trick your family into eating some veggies?  You’ve found one.  Over the past year or so, I’ve been seeing more and more recipes where veggies are masked in recipes.  Personally, I’m a HUGE fan of zucchini on its own, but I have family members who don’t share my passion for it…and this is one heck of a way to sneak these bad boys into a sweet treat.  In fact, when I told my brother that I was bringing brownies over for dessert, all he wanted to know was how many calories they had in them, so he wouldn’t go overboard.  No problem.  I cut this batch into 24 pieces, and they are 215 calories each (without the walnuts, with the walnuts, they’re 229 calories each).  There, he was satisfied.  As I watched him eat a whole piece, this made me smile…because he doesn’t like vegetables.  After he ate the whole thing and said it was good, I smiled and said, “I’m glad you liked it, because you just ate some zucchini!”  Ha ha!!

chocolate zucchini brownie

My next project is to make these even healthier, by using gluten-free flour and sucanat in place of the sugar.  Then, maybe just a chocolate glaze on top instead of the icing.  Wish me luck on that one.

For the Brownies:

3/4 cup vegetable oil

1 1/2 cups white sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups shredded zucchini

1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a 9×13 inch baking dish.  In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, 1/2 cup cocoa, baking soda, and salt.  In a blender, combine the oil, zucchini, and vanilla.  Puree until smooth.  Stir the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients (batter will be thick), and spread evenly into the prepared pan.  Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, until brownies spring back when gently touched.  Spread icing over cooled brownies before cutting into 24 squares.  Store in airtight container, does not need to be refrigerated.

For the Icing:

6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 cup butter, softened

2 cups confectioner’s sugar

1/4 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Using electric mixer, beat butter until smooth.  Add remaining ingredients, and continue mixing for 3-4 minutes.  Spread over cooled brownies.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

When I was a teenager, I remember my mom making some chocolate peanut butter bars one time.  And honestly, the thought crosses my mind, wondering if that was a really good thing, or a really bad thing.  Why?  Because I ate the whole batch.  In two days.  In fact, that may have sparked an argument between my dad and me because he went looking for one…and they were all gone.  It wasn’t me.  It was the dog.  Or my friend across the street.  Or my mom.  Or, maybe HE was the culprit and ate them so quickly that he forgot it was him.  Unfortunately, I had the tummy ache as evidence from wolfing them all down…but it was so worth it, and I ended up finding myself in the kitchen the night after I made them this time, pulling “just one more” out to eat.  Some things never change…but at least I didn’t eat the whole batch.

chocolate pb bars

And since my family is a bunch of peanut butter fanatics, the situation presented itself perfectly when they were all coming over for lunch.  As my brother was eating one of the Crescent Roll Mozzarella Sticks, I warned him to save room for these bad boys.  He rolled his eyes and sighed, then said, “You know, I feel like Hansel coming over to your house because you keep trying to fatten us up.  Are you planning to cook us?”  I laughed.  That may have been the funniest analogy I’ve heard.  I cackled at him and said, “Yes.  You have figured out my plan.  Now, eat.”

For the Peanut Butter Layer:

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1 3/4 cups powdered sugar

1 cup smooth peanut butter

3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs

Line an 8×8 inch square pan with foil, leaving enough to hang over the sides, then butter the foil.  Set aside.  In a medium saucepan, melt the 1/2 cup of butter over low heat.  Once melted, remove from heat and stir in the powdered sugar until smooth.  Stir in the peanut butter and graham cracker crumbs until completely combined and smooth.  Spread the peanut butter mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

For the Chocolate Layer:

1 cup semisweet chips

1/4 cup unsalted butter

In the empty saucepan, melt the 1/4 cup butter.  Add the chocolate and stir until almost completely melted.  Remove from heat and continue stirring until completely melted.  Pour the melted chocolate over the peanut butter layer and smooth into an even layer.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to set.  Remove from the pan using the foil overhangs and place on a cutting boat.  Use a knife or pizza cutter to slice into 16 bars.  Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Original recipe borrowed from browneyedbaker.com, but I added some more chocolate for a thicker top layer, and used semisweet chocolate instead of milk chocolate.

The Little Mermaid Birthday Party

Every year that my daughter has had a birthday, I’ve gone a little…overboard with her parties.  Her first birthday was a luau, then her second birthday was Minnie Mouse themed.  But this year, it has been the most fun.  Since she’s turning 3, she’s more aware of what’s going on.  She also LOVES birthday parties.  So, when it was time for hers to come around, she was beside herself with excitement, and talked about it nonstop.  Seriously, nonstop.  She even fussed at the dogs for taking one of the goodie bags that Mommy made for her friends that were coming to her party.  I got a kick out of that.  “No doggies, this is for my birthday party!  You leave it alone!” And her teachers at school said that she’s continuously talking about it there, asking her little friends if they’re coming to her birthday party.

Several months ago, I couldn’t decide between Hello Kitty and The Little Mermaid, so I let her watch the movie.  Done.  She loved it.  So, I started going over some things that I wanted to have for her party.

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First, here’s the birthday cake.  Of course, you have to have either birthday cake or some other birthday dessert at a party, right?  So, here it is.  This is an oval cake, 3 layers of yellow cake with chocolate chips, chocolate filling, and covered with buttercream icing.  Click HERE for the cake topper set I used for this cake, and HERE for the oval pan set I used.

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Originally, I was just going to use the figurines for the top of the cake, but it felt like it was missing something.  So, after a little bit of brainstorming after putting the cake together, I decided to make a 3 out of chocolate and use that as the topper, but create a little island for it and put the “dinglehopper” on there as well.  My nephew ate the chocolate 3.  He loves it when I make chocolate.  Click HERE for the number chocolate mold topper I used.  Click HERE for the food chopper used to create the graham cracker crumbs.  I use this sucker all the dang time.

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King Triton, Sebastian and the castle!  Since I set this cake up so that these characters were technically under the sea, I wanted to do a little bit of decorating with fondant on top of the buttercream icing.  I pulled up a picture of the castle on my phone, and tried to replicate it as best as I could to just use it as a backdrop, cutting out different sized pieces and putting them all together.  The rocks, coral and seaweed are also made out of fondant.

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Ursula and her cave.  When I was looking at the details of her cave, I knew that copying that would be more challenging, and the clock was ticking away…so I decided to just make a simple, but large cave that doesn’t look all that inviting.  Shoot, the seawitch’s cave shouldn’t look inviting!  I certainly wouldn’t want to go swimming in there!

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Cupcakes!  These are strawberry cupcakes with blue tinted cream cheese icing, topped with graham cracker crumbs for the sand effect, and topped with chocolate seashells.  Click HERE for a chocolate seashell mold.

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The chocolate yummies!  I made all of these using different colors, and put them on a glass plate with graham cracker crumbs to look like they’re all on top of sand.  I made these same chocolate decorations for my nephew’s Shark Cake earlier this year.  They’re super cute, and super yummy too!  Click HERE for the chocolate molds I used for these creatures.  In order to make chocolates with different colors, use a toothpick to distribute the chocolate, and let it set before putting other chocolate colors over it.

sushi

And here’s one of the most popular items I make for parties…Candy Sushi!  I also ended up slicing some Swiss Cake Rolls for added “sushi” to the platter, but everything else is hand made using rice krispie treats and different candy.

table

Here’s the full dessert table.  Packed with all the yummy goodies!  Sugar overload!  Click HERE for the table decorating kit I used in this picture.

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Pink lemonade, anyone?  I bought the drink fountain specifically for this party, because the thought of beautiful pink lemonade streaming down like this would be perfect for this occasion.  Click HERE for the drink fountain used in this picture.

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Here is her birthday banner.  One of my friends (who I like to call Martha Stewart’s protégé), made this for the party.  She’s the one who made all of the amazing stuff for her son’s Superhero Birthday Party earlier this year.

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And, here’s what she also made for the front door.  So cute!  It’s still there!

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My little pumpkin, we’re singing the Happy Birthday song to her in this picture, with her friends and cousins standing around her.

It was a great party, with a wonderful turnout.  I told people to come hungry, because the dessert table was less than half of the amount of other food.  We also had a chicken cheese ball with crackers, crab dip in bread bowl, deviled eggs, chips and salsa, shells and cheese, cheesy poofs, ham delights, chicken tenders, pigs in a blanket, and a veggie tray.  Our little birthday girl was tuckered out early, from a very busy day, no nap, and a full belly.  🙂

Pineapple Coconut Rum Cake

In college, I lived with my two best friends from high school.  We loved to throw parties and gatherings on a regular basis…and let’s face it.  We lived in Myrtle Beach and were in college…so pretty much all of our social gatherings included alcohol.  Okay fine, so ALL of them included alcohol.  Moving on.  Well, one of our absolute favorite kinds of alcohol was coconut rum, so we always had a bottle of Parrot Bay or Malibu in our liquor cabinet.  Several years later while we were spending time together, one of our other friends made me a cocktail.  It was Parrot Bay with some pineapple juice.  I practically guzzled it down because it was so delicious and refreshing…and I’m a sucker for tropical flavored drinks, especially when you can’t really taste the alcohol all that much (which actually can get you into trouble if you’re not careful).  And yeah, I ended up having two more of those same cocktails, until I polished off her pineapple juice.

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When I started thinking about this cake, it was right before I had lunch with our biggest Parrot Bay fan of the group.  After I walked out of the liquor store from picking up a fresh bottle of Parrot Bay, I texted her to let her know what I was making.  I really think she wanted to leave work early to come try this sucker out.  One thing I have learned about making rum cakes is the glaze.  Putting the glaze on the cake is by far the most important step, because this is where your alcohol flavor, the moistness of the cake, and your very slight buzz after eating a big slice (if you’re a lightweight like me) comes from.  When I first made a rum cake and was putting this glaze on it, I only used half because it seemed like it was too much.  Trust me, it isn’t.  Every bit of that incredible glaze will sink into the warm cake.  If you only use half of the glaze, only half of the cake will experience the full effects of this glorious glaze, so please slop this entire batch into the warm cake until it’s all gone.  You won’t be disappointed.  😉

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I made this cake during the day, and hadn’t cut into it before going to bed.  While saying goodnight to my hubster, he made the comment that he was hungry.  I told him that the cake was downstairs if he wanted a snack, and off to bed I went.  In the morning when I was going to get my coffee, I noticed there was a big chunk of the cake missing…and an empty plate with a few crumbs sitting in the sink.  I smiled.  When he got up and was heading out for work, he said, “That cake was awesome.  I had one piece, then went back for another.  It was really moist.”  Again, success.

For the cake:

1 box Duncan Hines yellow cake mix

1 can crushed pineapple

3 eggs

1/4 cup oil

1/4 cup pineapple juice

1 teaspoon baking soda

Drain juice out of can of pineapple, reserve 1/4 cup for the baking process.  Puree pineapple, eggs, oil, and pineapple juice in blender or food processor.  Mix together all ingredients in bowl and beat at medium speed for 2-4 minutes with electric mixer, spoon into greased and floured bundt pan.  Bake at 350 degrees until toothpick comes out clean, 50-55 minutes.  Cool in pan for 10-15 minutes, brush 1/3 of glaze on top of cake before turning out of pan.  Cover with remaining glaze while cake is still warm, so the rum seeps into the cake.

For the glaze:

1 stick butter

1/4 cup water

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup coconut rum

In a saucepan, combine butter, 1/4 cup water and 1 cup sugar. Bring to a boil over medium heat and continue to boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup rum.  Brush glaze over top and sides. Allow cake to absorb glaze and repeat until all glaze is used.

*Rum cakes usually taste better 1/2 days after they’re made, since it allows more time for the glaze to seep into the cake.

Cinnamon Bun Cake

Cinnamon buns.  Everybody’s had ’em, and I don’t know a single person who doesn’t like ’em.  But, not everybody can or wants to make them…but with this cake, you CAN.  This is a very easy recipe, and it’s ten times less intimidating than actually making cinnamon buns from scratch.  This is literally like eating a cinnamon bun in a cake.

cinnamon bun cake

I had the privilege of eating a piece of this sucker right out of the oven, after I smeared that ridiculously creamy and rich icing on top, oozing down the sides.  I promised myself that I would only have one bite, but you know how that works out.  Well, it didn’t.  And I don’t regret a single bite, either.  Shoot, look at that picture above.  Yowza.  And trust me, it tastes just as good as it looks!

Cinnamon Bun Cake Recipe:

For the cake:
1 box yellow cake mix
4 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 c. vegetable oil
8 oz. sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a separate bowl, mix:
1 c. brown sugar
3 tsp. cinnamon

Mix and pour 1/2 batter in a 9X13 inch greased pan. Sprinkle 1/2 the cinnamon on of top of that, swirl with a fork. Pour remaining batter in the pan, smooth out and cover with the remaining half of the cinnamon-sugar mixture and swirl with a fork. Bake for 35-40 minutes.

For the icing:
2 c. confectioners sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup heavy cream -or- 1/4 cup milk

Mix icing together and pour over the hot cake.