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.

Sopapilla Cheesecake Pie

When our family goes out to our favorite Mexican restaurant in town, one of my favorite parts of dinner is at the end, when they bring out a little plate of sopapillas…one for each person.  Since my hubby is usually too full to eat anything else at this point, our daughter and I usually end up splitting his.  So, I couldn’t help but to wonder if I could make them at home, and the researching began.  I was looking for actual sopapilla recipes, but came across this one.  The combination of a sopapilla mixed with cheesecake?  Oh, snap!  As I started reading through the ingredients and the process, it became clear that this was easy to make, and was sure to be a big hit.  As I was putting it together, my husband asked what I was making, so I told him.  “What in the heck is that?” he asked.  After explaining the layers, he chuckled and said, “Sounds healthy.”  Well, let’s not try to break this down nutritionally, because you may not want to think about that…  Plus, when you take a bite of one of these bad boys, your concern for the nutritional value could possibly fly out the window.

sopapilla cheesecake pie

After this was pulled out of the oven and cooling on the counter, I hear the ole hubster downstairs call out, “Can I go ahead and eat this?”  Couldn’t help but to giggle.  I cut him a good sized piece and had it on a plate for him when he came back into the kitchen a minute later after taking the dogs outside.  As he inhaled it, I heard, “Mmm, this thing is awesome!”  The next day when I pulled all of the pieces out of the original container and put it back in the fridge, all he saw was the leftover container…empty.  “You didn’t give it ALL away, did you?!”  Of course not.  He has enjoyed a couple more pieces today, along with my daughter’s teachers.

Sopapilla Cheesecake Pie Recipe

2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened

1 cup white sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 (8 oz) cans refrigerated crescent rolls

3/4 cup white sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 stick of butter, melted

1/4 cup honey

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Prepare a 9×13 inch baking dish with cooking spray.  Beat the cream cheese with 1 cup of sugar and the vanilla extract in a bowl until smooth.  Unroll the cans of crescent roll dough, and use a rolling pin to shape each piece into 9×13 inch rectangles. Press one piece into the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish. Evenly spread the cream cheese mixture into the baking dish, then cover with the remaining piece of crescent dough. Stir together 3/4 cup of sugar and cinnamon. Pour the melted butter over the top layer of crescent rolls, then sprinkle the cinnamon/sugar mixture on top.  Bake in the preheated oven until the crescent dough has puffed and turned golden brown, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and drizzle with honey. Cool completely in the pan before cutting into squares.  Store in refrigerator.

Wedding Cakes and Other Wedding Goodies

The following cakes were made for wedding events…whether it was a cake for the groom, bride, bachelor/bachelorette party, bridal shower, or the actual wedding itself.

Bridal Shower Cupcakes

bridal shower (white almond with white truffle)

Earlier this year, when my neighbor came knocking at my door to ask me if I could make some bridal shower cupcakes for her, I was more than happy to help.  She wanted to stick with the simple colors, so we just went with white and silver.  Traditional, yet elegant.  These are white almond cupcakes with a vanilla buttercream icing, edible silver sprinkles as a garnish and white chocolate wedding bells that I made with a chocolate mold and used them as a topper.

Groom’s Cake

Jess's Groom's Cake

Several months ago, I went to a friend’s bridal shower.  As we sat there chit chatting, she asked me if I could make them a cake for the rehearsal dinner…as a surprise for the groom.  This guy loves, and I mean LOVES…the zoo.  Any zoo.  They have season passes to the local zoo, and travel to other cities to check out their zoos as well.  Quite the animal lover.  So, off I went on looking at some other zoo cakes to get ideas of putting this cake together for them.  I gave her the option of two flavors, since it was going to be a larger cake, and she picked red velvet and dark chocolate.  The rock cave is made out of rice krispie treats, surrounded by Twix bars, a mixture of piping gel and icing as the pond, and graham cracker crumbs as the sand.  I just used plastic animals to go on top, the Zoo sign is made out of fondant, and I used skewer sticks to hold it up.  The sign was made ahead of time, and the sticks were attached with chocolate to the back.

Groom’s Cake

Ashleigh's Groom's Cake

While sitting at the computer one day, I received a text message from my super creative friend, asking if I could make a groom’s cake for her friend who was getting married…and in a panic, because the rehearsal dinner was in a few weeks and she didn’t have anyone making the cake.  When the bride and I started talking about what she was looking for, she wanted the theme to be around the fact that her groom loved to play Ultimate Frisbee…so she wanted an Ultimate Frisbee cake.  While doing some research, I got the basic idea of what would be something simple, yet obvious that this is what the cake was representing.  She sent me pictures of his jersey and the Frisbee that they normally use, so that’s what I based the colors on here with both.  The Frisbee is made out of gumpaste, the jersey is made out of fondant, along with the end zone lines.  The cake is dark chocolate with chocolate chips, and covered with cream cheese icing.

Wedding Cake

Leah's wedding cake

One of my childhood friends was having a very small wedding, and she asked me to make a cake for them.  She looked at several different cakes, pointed out the things she did and didn’t like about them, so I went off the information from her on what she wanted.  The top tier is 6 inch, and the bottom tier is 10 inch.  I bought the red icing roses, because I was concerned about all of the roses looking identical (yes, I’m that particular with some of this stuff).  Since I don’t make a lot of icing roses, making sure they were identical and uniform was a requirement in my head.  So, we went with the classic white icing all over the cake, black fondant ribbon as a base, and the red royal icing roses.  The entire cake is white almond, covered in buttercream icing.

Wedding Cake

ellen's cake

This cake was for my aunt.  The colors she wanted to go with were white and light blue, and since this wasn’t her first wedding, we decided to do something a little different than the traditional white cake…and switched it up!  Blue icing covered with white royal icing flowers and icing.  She wanted a square cake, so the bottom tier is 12 inches, and the top tier is 10 inches.  The bottom tier is two layer white almond cake, and the top tier is four layer chocolate caramel cake with chocolate filling.  There was literally one piece of the top tier left, and 2/3 of the bottom cake left…and that was only from 30 people eating it!  I did up cutting a bunch of pieces of cake for people coming back for seconds, and who also wanted both flavors.  The spiked pillars are separating the tiers, and I loved it this way.  Since the cake was traveling (and the church was in the middle of nowhere, and we made 4 u-turns trying to find the place), it worked out perfectly that the cake wasn’t put together until we got to the site.  I didn’t want a repeat of the Alice in Wonderland Cake, especially since this was the same side of the family.  😉

Girly Bling Cake

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This wasn’t made for a wedding, but honestly I think it would be amazing for a bachelorette party or some sort of bridal shower for a girly girl.  This is a 10 inch 4 layer yellow cake with buttercream icing ruffles, bling border, plastic tiara, edible silver glitter, and a gumpaste high heel.  I actually used a high heeled shoe mold to make this shoe, and LOVED the way it turned out.

Also, the Girls Night Out Cake I made a while back would also be great for a bachelor or bachelorette party.  And I’ll be honest…I’ve actually made some R-rated chocolate lollipops for bachelor and bachelorette parties in the past, but I don’t think it would be exactly kid-friendly to post the pictures on here…but it’s definitely an option if you’re looking for something to add.  😉

And if you want a REALLY girly cake that’s covered with all kinds of girly goodies, check out the 40th Birthday Girly Cake.  Just take away the 40 topper, and you’ve got a killer bachelorette party cake!

Boston Creme Cupcakes

Boston Crème Cupcakes.  Deliciously moist yellow cupcakes with a vanilla custard center and topped with chocolate ganache.  Hello, heaven.  My young daughter kept coming into the kitchen while I was making these and asking, “Mommy, can I have a cupcake?” and I’d always reply, “Not yet sweet pea, they’re not finished.”  She would then turn around and walk out, only to come back in, asking the same question every five minutes.  Although, I’ll have to say she had perfect timing when I was using a cupcake corer to remove the center of the cupcakes to prepare them for adding the filling…because there were cupcake scraps from removing the centers.  She must have eaten five little scraps, gobbling them down and saying, “Yummy in the tummy, Mommy!”  She’s definitely right about that one, these were very yummy in the tummy.

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I took a bite out of the cupcake for the picture above…and enjoyed every second of it.  In fact, I couldn’t wait to get the pictures done in order to finish off the rest of it.  It couldn’t be left sitting there like that, half eaten…right?!  Hard to believe this was my first try making chocolate ganache, and I’ll definitely be making that again to put on top of other desserts.  These cupcakes were simple and amazing.  Simply amazing.  There you go, that’s the perfect description.

For the Cupcakes:

1 box Duncan Hines yellow cake mix

1 (3.4 oz.) box instant vanilla pudding

1 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup water

4 eggs

8 oz. sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine all ingredients in medium size mixing bowl and beat with electric mixer at medium speed for 2-4 minutes.  Using an ice cream scoop, distribute batter into lined muffin pan.  Bake for 22-24 minutes, until a light golden brown on top.  Cool completely on cooling racks.  Use cupcake corer and remove center of cupcakes.  Slice a small portion off top of removed core, place on top of filling, top with ganache.  Store cupcakes in refrigerator.

For the Filling:

2 1/2 cups whole milk

2 (3.4 oz.) box instant vanilla pudding mix

2 teaspoons vanilla

Combine milk, instant pudding mix, and vanilla extract in a large bowl.  Beat mixture with a hand mixer for 2 minutes, or until it thickens.  Place mixture in refrigerator for 15 minutes.  Spoon filling into a pastry bag fitted with a medium-size plain tip.  Fill cupcakes with vanilla pudding filling by inserting tip into top of cupcake and squeezing a couple of tablespoons of filling into each cupcake.

For the Chocolate Ganache:

1 cup heavy cream

1 bag semisweet chocolate chips

Heat cream in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat until bubbles appear around the edges.  Remove from heat, add chocolate morsels to pan, and whisk until smooth.  Spoon or drizzle glaze over cupcakes.  Refrigerate until set, at least 1 hour, before serving.

Dark Chocolate Chocolate Coconut Pie

When I started experimenting with some Hawaiian style meals and desserts, I was so excited to try this recipe out.  It’s a little different than the original recipe that I found and made, but the end result was much better than expected.

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This pie was actually a second try.  The first time I made it, it was two layers instead of just one.  The bottom layer was the chocolate coconut, and the top layer was the coconut.  I took it over to my brother’s house where my mom was babysitting her grandbabies, because she wanted to try it.  When her, my niece and nephew cut a slice for themselves, I noticed that all three of them picked away the top coconut layer and gobbled down the chocolate layer.  My mom said, “The bottom layer was absolutely delicious, but the top layer didn’t have a whole lot of flavor to it.”  And she was right, because I thought the same thing when I had a couple bites earlier in the day.

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Back to the drawing  board, and here we are with the finished product.  I added more chocolate chips to the melting process, and just made the whole pie one layer.  Success!  The flaked coconut on top was an added garnish, just in case there is any confusion on what kind of pie this is.  Can’t miss that coconut!

Dark Chocolate Coconut Pie Recipe:

1 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust

1 cup milk

1 (14 ounce) can coconut milk

1 1/2 cups white sugar

1 cup water

1/2 cup cornstarch

1 bag dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Bake crust for 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Set aside to cool.  In a medium saucepan, whisk together milk, coconut milk and sugar. In a separate bowl, dissolve the cornstarch in water. Bring coconut mixture to a boil. Reduce to simmer and slowly whisk in the cornstarch. Continue stirring mixture over low heat until thickened, about 3 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in chocolate chips until melted, then pour mixture into pie crust.  Refrigerate for at least an hour, until pie is set.  Sprinkle with flaked coconut on top of the pie as a garnish.

Chocolate Amaretto Cake

Back in college, my friends and I went on our very first cruise.  We were SO excited, even though we would literally only be on the boat for two nights…but the most exciting part was the fact that we were going to the Bahamas.  When we started talking about taking our trip to the Bahamas, that’s when I started to hear comments about how we HAD to get a rum cake when we were down there visiting.  Unfortunately, I was so caught up with everything else that we were doing down there, that I forgot to get one of those little rum cakes.

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A few years ago when I got into baking, my dad told me that I should make a rum cake.  That man loves his rum.  I tried one a few years ago but wasn’t all that impressed with how it turned out, so it needed to be experimented with again.  Well, the perfect opportunity presented itself when my girls’ weekend trip to Florida presented itself.  I knew that I had to make something delicious for the ladies, and when I asked them for suggestions, one of them suggested a rum cake.  I gasped at the fact that the idea to make a rum cake didn’t immediately pop into my head in the first place.  Well, when I started brainstorming ideas to figure out exactly what kind to make, the idea to combine an almond flavored liquor (amaretto) with chocolate seemed like the perfect combination.  And honestly, amaretto is my favorite liquor.  So, I got to work and made the cake before I left.  While I was putting the glaze on the cake, orginally it seemed like there was too much glaze…but as the days went on, I could tell that it in fact needed every drop of that glaze in order to completely soak through the cake to keep that almond flavor in the cake along with keeping it moist.  My girls and I have thoroughly enjoyed this cake, along with smothering it with chocolate syrup and ice cream.

For the Cake:

1 cup slivered almonds (optional)

1 box Duncan Hines dark chocolate fudge cake mix

1 small box instant chocolate pudding mix

4 eggs

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup almond liquor (amaretto)

1/4 cup water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a bundt pan, sprinkle almonds in bottom of pan.  Combine remaining ingredients and beat with electric mixer at medium speed for 2-4 minutes, until well blended.  Pour into pan over almonds, bake for 45-50 minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Poke holes in cake while still in pan, pour half of glaze over cake.  Cool in pan for 10-12 minutes, then turn out of pan.  While cake is still warm, brush remaining glaze over cake until glaze is gone (it will absorb into the cake and keep it moist).

For the Rum Glaze:

1 stick butter

1/4 cup water

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup almond liquor (amaretto)

Melt butter in small saucepan.  Add water and sugar, stir until sugar is dissolved.  Remove from heat, stir in amaretto.

Not a big fan of amaretto?  No problem!  Use your favorite liquor instead! 

Ultimate Snickerdoodles

Before I really got into baking, every once in a while my husband would pick up a pack of the big, soft snickerdoodle cookies at the bakery in the grocery store…and they would only last a couple of days.  “Why do you get these?!”  I’d fuss at him, while stuffing yet another one in my mouth.  He would just laugh and say, “Because they’re awesome!”  Well duh, of course they are.  Pretty much anything with cinnamon is amazing…especially when it’s in cookies.

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A couple of years after that, my mom told me about a seasonal item she found at Wal-Mart in the baking aisle…cinnamon chips.  I sat there for a moment in silence, and asked, “Wait, you mean like chocolate chips, but they’re cinnamon?” and she responded, “Yep, that’s right!”  Wow.  Just, wow.  I HAD to see these for myself.  For a while, they really were just a seasonal item, and the only time I ever saw them at the store was around Christmas time, but I noticed last week while shopping that they were there.  Really?!  I thought to myself as I was walking past.  Then the thought came  Wait, why did you pass them?  Get your butt back there and grab a bag!!  Well, okay.  Don’t worry, I wasn’t having these conversations out loud in the store…then again, that might not be uncommon for Wal-Mart, would it?  Doubtful.

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Take a good look at this stack, because it’s dwindling quickly.  When I told my husband that I was doing a twist on Snickerdoodles, he seemed a little doubtful.  Silly boy.  When he asked when he could have one and I responded, “As soon as they’re done baking,” that made him happy.  So, literally a minute after they came out of the oven and I’m transferring them to a cooling rack, he’s hovering over my shoulder and asking if he could have one.  As he gobbled that first cookie down, he grumbled happily, then reached for another one.  He walked away and took a shower, then came back about 20 minutes later and said, “Man, those cookies are awesome.”  AH HA!!!  I knew it!   I may have to hide these until our cookout tomorrow.  Cinnamon lovers, look no further…

Ultimate Snickerdoodle Cookies Recipe:

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup butter, softened

3/4 cups light brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

1 small box instant vanilla pudding

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 bag cinnamon chips

For cinnamon/sugar topping:

1/4 cup white sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine flour, baking soda and cinnamon in small bowl, set aside.  In a large bowl, cream together butter and both sugars with electric mixer, beating at medium speed until well blended.  Add eggs, vanilla and pudding mix, continue beating.  Blend in flour mixture, then stir in cinnamon chips.  In a small separate bowl, stir together the cinnamon and sugar mixture for the topping.  Using a cookie scoop, roll dough into balls, then cover the tops with cinnamon/sugar topping.  Place on cookie sheet, bake for 10/12 minutes, or until a light golden brown.  Transfer to cooling racks to cool completely, store in airtight container.

Carrot Pineapple Bundt Cake

For dinner this evening, I’m doing a Hawaiian themed dinner…for the first time.  I’m nervous, yet excited.  Since this is experimental, there won’t be any decorations, music, or games this time…just a Hawaiian style menu.  And since this is a first time theme with ALL experimental recipes, my guinea pigs are my family.  Lucky them, right?!  I know.  The good thing is that I’ll get some really honest feedback on the food, which will allow me to tweak the recipes to make them better for next time.  You know, make them REALLY good for dinner guests, and not just family.  Ha!

carrot pineapple bundt (1)

This is the dessert that was picked for tonight’s menu.  I wanted to make something fruity, but without the chunks…since there are some picky eaters this evening.  With this recipe, I pureed the carrots and pineapples with the oil and vanilla, and followed the rest of the directions.  This way, we can experience the flavor without texture being an issue.

carrot pineapple bundt (2)

The end result?  I called my brother after wolfing down a piece to tell him that he would like the cake.  He said, “Oh good, so if I don’t like dinner, then I can go straight to dessert?”  Absolutely.  In fact, I’m wondering if he’ll “fake” liking dinner just to eat a double serving of dessert.  I wouldn’t be surprised.

Carrot Pineapple Bundt Cake Recipe:

3 cups all purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups sugar

1 1/2 cups vegetable oil

2 cups finely grated carrots

8 oz. pineapple (cut into chunks, pureed, canned)

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 cup finely chopped pecans (optional)

3 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease and flour bundt pan.  Sift flour with soda, cinnamon and salt.  In large bowl using an electric mixer, combine sugar and oil.  Add half of the flour mixture and mix well.  Beat in carrots, pineapple, vanilla and nuts.  Add remaining flour mixture; beat well.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Pour into prepared pan and bake 60 to 70 minutes.  Cool completely, drizzle with pineapple glaze.

Pineapple Glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar

1-3 tablespoons pineapple juice (depends on consistency you want)

Stir together sugar and juice until desired consistency.  Drizzle on top of cooled cake, save extra glaze to add to slices while serving.

Peanut Butter Mississippi Mud Brownies

Yesterday morning when I came upstairs to get on the computer, there was a recipe page that had been torn out of a magazine sitting on my desk.  I knew that my husband had put it there, but I just wasn’t sure where in the heck he found it.  Either way, the page looked very familiar, since I was the one who tore out the page (don’t worry, I had permission from my mother-in-law).  Normally I don’t tear pages out of magazines, but it was obvious why I did this time…  The recipes on that page made me drool.  This was one of those recipes.

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Last week, a visit at the doctor’s office confirmed that I had a sinus infection, bronchitis, and an ear infection…all at once.  Yikes.  So, they started me on antibiotics.  Although it takes a while for everything to go away, my sense of smell and taste were very slowly starting to come back.  While mixing up the two batters for these brownies, the scent drifted up and into my nostrils.  My husband and daughter were watching me in the kitchen, and I said, “Oh wow.  This smells ridiculous, and I haven’t even baked it yet!”  The original recipe calls for swirling the two batters together, but I decided to leave it in three layers so the peanut butter layer could dominate the center.  Yes, dominate away, sweet peanut butter.

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The recipe also calls for making it in a 9×13 inch baking dish.  I chose to use a 10 inch square cake pan…this made the brownies a little bit thicker.  You can make it in whichever size dish you please, but I personally thought the thickness of these brownies was perfect, especially with the layers.  After my daughter went to bed, I was spreading the melted marshmallows on top of the brownie and preparing the chocolate icing, when my husband looks over my shoulder and asks, “Can we eat them yet?”  I snickered.  This is the guy who has been peanut buttered out from the first few years we were together, from all of the peanut buttery stuff I made.  Recently, I realized that he may be spoiled with desserts now.  I cut some pieces out for us and we sat down to inhale them…they were absolutely fantastic…and I can’t wait for my brother, the peanut butter expert, to try these suckers out.  I will definitely be making these again!!

Peanut Butter Mississippi Mud Brownies

4 (1-oz.) unsweetened chocolate baking squares

1 1/3 cups butter, softened and divided

2 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided

4 large eggs

2 cups all-purpose flour, divided

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon baking powder

3 cups miniature marshmallows

1 1/2 cups lightly salted roasted peanuts (optional)

chocolate frosting

Preheat oven to 350°. Microwave chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl at MEDIUM (50% power) 1 1/2 minutes or until melted and smooth, stirring at 30-second intervals.  Beat 1 cup butter and 2 cups granulated sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add 4 eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition. Add melted chocolate, beating just until blended. Add 1 cup flour, beating at low speed just until blended. Stir in vanilla. Spread half of batter in a greased and floured 13- x 9-inch pan.  Beat peanut butter, brown sugar, and remaining 1/3 cup butter and 1/2 cup granulated sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add 2 eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition. Stir together baking powder and remaining 1 cup flour, and add to peanut butter mixture, beating at low speed just until blended.  Spoon peanut butter mixture over brownie batter; top with remaining brownie batter, and swirl together.  Bake at 350° for 45 to 55 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out with a few moist crumbs. Remove from oven to a wire rack; sprinkle with marshmallows and peanuts.  Prepare Chocolate Frosting, and drizzle over brownies. Cool completely.

Chocolate Frosting

1/4 cup butter

3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa

3 tablespoons milk

2 cups powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cook butter, cocoa, and milk in a saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly, 4 minutes or until slightly thickened; remove from heat.  Whisk in powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth.