Archive for the ‘sweet treat recipes’ Category

The Great Pumpkin Patch

Last weekend the husband and I went to a local orchard for apple picking and to get some sugar pie pumpkins. You may or may not know that there was a national canned pumpkin puree shortage which I personally find devasting because I love all things pumpkin particularly in the fall. Lucky for me it isn’t all that hard to go from this

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to this

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Which we turned into this which I enjoyed but wasn’t in love with and this

The husband and I both loved the ice cream but can only have it in small doses because it is VERY rich.

Next week we want to try our favorite spiced pumpkin bread recipe, pumpkin risotto and a pumpkin seed pesto. The options, as you can see, are pretty endless. We only bought three pumpkins but we got two plus cups of puree from each pumpkin. We froze most of it to make Thanksgiving treats but I couldn’t resist keeping some of it out to use now 🙂

If you are interested this is how we made the pumpkin puree:

1) Preheat the oven to 350 F

2) Cut your pumpkin in half and scoop out the seeds and pulp.
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3) Place the pumpkins hollowed side down in a baking pan with enough water to cover the entire bottom. Then cover the top side of the pumpkins with tin foil.
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4) Bake for roughly two hours, take out when the inside is the consistency of a baked potatoe (soft and easy to remove from the outer skin) This may take more or less time depending on the size of your pumpkin. It is infinitely easier to leave the pumpkin in longer than to try and remove the insides before they are soft. At about an hour check the pan to make sure the water hasn’t evaporated, if it has add more.

5) Scrape the pumpkin “meat” from the inside of the shell and puree in a blender or food processor. You can strain it to remove any remaining stringy pieces. This wasn’t an issue with the pound cake we made but the husband thinks doing so would have improved the consistency of the ice cream.

So nothing went to waste we also roasted the pumpkin seeds (there were many!) using this recipe. I have to say roasted pumpkin seeds are addictive 🙂 We had to throw out the shells but if you had a compost pile you would have created a couple waste free treats.

Now we just need to figure out what to do with the 20 pounds of apples we picked…

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The second Valentine’s my husband and I celebrated he made me dark chocolate truffles. They weren’t the prettiest things ever, and he kept beating himself up for it, but they tasted great! This year I wanted to return the favor but remembering his frustration with the truffles I wanted something a little easier. I found this recipe for red velvent cake balls from Bakerella and new I had found a winner, sort of. J. likes red velvet cake but he doesn’t love it so I decided to adapt the recipe a bit. I used a strawberry cake mix, cream cheese frosting, and Giardelli’s 60% cocoa dark chocolate chips and it came out amazing if I do say so myself.

Per Bakerella’s instructions I made the cake mix as instructed on the box.

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Lacking a 9 X 13 I used to 8 inch round ones. I figure it doesn’t matter what shape you bake it in since you are crumbling it up anyway.

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Once the cake were cool I tore each one into four pieces and hollowed them out so that none of the brown outer edges ended up in the bowl. I realize this is a bit shall we say OCD but I wanted pink cake balls not pink and brown ones. Plus I got to eat the outer edges 😉

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Then I combined one can of cream cheese frosting with the crumbs using my hands. And like Bakerella warned it got messy!

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I found the room temperature mixture of cake and cream cheese too soft to work with so I tried sticking in the fridge (didn’t work), then in the freezer for 20 minutes (still not enough) and finally 40 minutes- just right! If I did it again I would stick it in the freezer for 45-60 minutes immediately after combining the cake and frosting and before I attempted to do anything with it.

I tried to play with shapes making balls, squares, hearts and kisses. If you want to experiment the chilled mixture is key!

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By then it was getting late and I left the balls in the fridge over night and then stuck them in the freezer for an hour before coating them with chocolate.

I’ve never used chocolate bark before and I didn’t want these to end up too sweet so I used dark chocolate chips melted on the stovetop using an improvised double burner. It took one and a half 11.5 oz bags of the chips to coat all my cake balls.

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I did this in two batches because you want the dough to be nice and chill so it hold its shape when rolled in the hot/warm chocolate and you want the chocolate to be bordering on hot to get nice coverage. Once the chocolate was melted I kept in the bowl on low heat on the double boiler. When I turned the heat off the chocolate would cool and give me uneven coverage. If someone was more practiced and thus faster this might not be a problem.

You also want to keep enough chocolate in the bowl too easily cover the dough. If you have too little you will also get uneven coverage. I used my fingers to roll the dough around and didn’t really have any problems. Occasionally I would use a regular spoon to add more chocolate over the cake ball once it was place back on the wax paper. And with some of them I dipped them in again after fully cooled to cover any “bald spots.”

The end result is amazing, I mean amazing!

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So I’ll be honest my husband’s frosting technique could use a little work… He hates to frost cakes so he simply poured the freshly made (and thus still warm) frosting over the cake and let it flow down the sides to pool on the plate. Not that any of that matters to me when a cake and frosting taste this good!

The cake is good, nice and moist with a solid but not overpowering banana flavor. The frosting is sublime! It took me years to find a good chocolate frosting and now that I’ve found it I want to put it on everything 🙂

Chocolate Frosting Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup cocoa
  • 1/3 cup evaporated milk
  • 4 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Chocolate Frosting Instructions:

1. In a medium saucepan, combine the butter, cocoa and evaporated milk. Place over medium heat and bring to a gentle boil.

2. Cook stirring often, for about 5 minutes, until the cocoa dissolves into a dark, shiny essence.

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3. Remove from the heat and stir in the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla.

4. Beat with a mixer at low speed until you have a smooth. thick frosting.

5. You can either let it cool and spread it onto your cake with a knife or spatula OR you can simply pour the still warm frosting over your cake. The choice is yours 😉

Banana Cake Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup ( 1 1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas (I’ll let mine go nice and brown and then stick then in the freezer until I’m ready to bake)

Banana Cake Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease and flour two 9 inch round cake pans.

2. In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt stirring with a fork to combine well.

3. In a large bowl combine the butter and sugar, beating well for 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one by one, and then the vanilla. Beat well for another 2-3 minutes making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl, until you have a smooth batter.

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4. Stir half of the mixture of dry ingredients into the wet until it disappears into the batter. Stir in the buttermilk, and then the remaining dry ingredients, the same way. Quickly and gently fold in the mashed bananas.

5. Pour the batter into the pans, evenly dividing it between the two.

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6. Bake for 25- 30 minutes, until the cakes are golden brown, spring back when touched lightly in the center, and begin to pull away from the sides of the pans.

7. Cool for 10 minutes in the pans on wire racks. After 10 minutes turn the cakes out of the pans to cool completely, top side up on the wire racks.

We didn’t let the frosting or the cake cool and you know what? It tasted just as good, maybe even better then if we had waited ;).

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canonjuly09 021, originally uploaded by Indie House.

I you asked me where I’m from I would tell you I’m an Army brat and therefore have no home but if you forced me to pick a region of the US that I most associate with I would say the northeast. I love the big cities, the vibrant history, and the cool ocean breezes. I you asked my husband he would say the pacific northwest for it’s temperate weather and indie atmosphere. The reality, however, is that we both spent a large portion of our lives in the southeastern US. And nothing is more iconic to the southern baker than the red velvet cake.

If you’ve seen Steel Magnolias then you will remember the red velvet armadillo groom’s cake.

Armadillo Cake, originally uploaded by crystalernst.

J. and I weren’t feeling quite that ambitious but having been in Philly for over a year we were start to missing a few things from the south. Since we finally had a free weekend together we decided to indulge in one of our favorite past times- baking.

We actually bought Southern Cakes while living in Colorado and while the cakes were tasty, they didn’t adapt to high altitude baking very well and the book got shelved until this weekend. Now with the unique chocolate/vanilla taste of red velvet on my tongue I’m itching to make more of the recipes from this book.

Southern Velvet Cake

Yield: Two 9-inch round, 2-inch tall cake layers, 22 to 24 cupcakes, two 8-inch squares or a 9×13 single-layer cake

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  • 2 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 Tsp Salt
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Cup Buttermilk
  • 2 Tbs Cocoa
  • One 1 oz bottle Red Food Coloring (we used 1/4 oz)
  • 2 Sticks Unsalted Butter
  • 2 Cups Sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 1/2 Tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 Tbs Cider (or White) Vinegar

Preheat Oven to 350 F. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans generously (we used Crisco), and line them with waxed paper or kitchen parchment. Grease the paper and flour the pans.

Combine the flour and salt in a medium bowl and use a fork to mix them together well. Stir the vanilla into the buttermilk. Combine the cocoa and the red food coloring in a small bowl, mashing and stirring them together to make a thick, smooth paste.

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In a large bowl, beat the butter with a mixer at low speed for 1 minute, until creamy and soft. Add the sugar, and then beat well for 3 to 4 minutes, stoppig to scrape down the bowl now and then. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each one, until the mixture is creamy, fluffy, and smooth. Scrape the cocoa- food coloring paste into the batter and beat to mix it in evenly.

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Add about a third of the flour mixture, and then about half the milk, beating the batter with a mixer at low speeed, and mixing only enough to make the flour or liquid disappear into the batter. Mix in another third of the flour, the rest of the milk, and then the last of the flour in the same way.

In a small bowl, combine the baking soda and vinegar and stir well. Use a wooden spoon or spatula to quickly mix this last mixture into the red batter, folding it in gently by hand. Scrape the batter into the prepared pans.

Bake at 350 F for 20-25 minutes, until the layers spring back when touched lightly in the center and are just beginning to pull away from the sides of the pans.

Cool the cakes in the pans on wire racks or folded kitchen towels for 15 minutes. Then turn them out on the racks or on plates, remove the paper, and turn top side up to cool completely.

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • One 8 oz package Cream Chese Softened (1 Cup)
  • 1/2 Stick Butter, softened
  • 3 2/3 Cups Powdered Sugar, Sifted
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract

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In a medium bowl,, combine the cream cheese and butter and beat with a mixer on medium speed to mix well. Add the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla and beat at high speed until the frosting is fluffy and smooth, stopping once or twice to scrape down the bowl and mix everything well. Spread the frosting on a cooled cake, or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Despite being full from dinner we did manage to share a piece of cake last night.

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Hazelnut Brown Sugar Ice Cream, originally uploaded by starfin.

So I know this isn’t craft related but it’s really tasty so I thought I would share! My husband is a big hazelnut fan and for his birthday I planned on making gelato, unfortunately it never happened… So last weekend we finally got around to it, and while a little time intensive it was well worth it.


  • 5 oz hazelnuts (1 cup)
  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar

Step 1-

Toast hazelnuts and rub off any skins in a kitchen towel, then cool completely. Pulse with 1/4 cup sugar and a pinch of salt in a food processor until finely chopped. Transfer to a 3-quart heavy saucepan and add milk and heavy cream. Bring just to a simmer over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, then remove from heat and let steep, covered, 1 hour.

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Step 2-

Pour mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, pressing hard on and discarding solids. (We used the oil splash guard we have for our frying pan… don’t ask why it was my husband’s idea… a better idea is cheesecloth. Even if you decide to add chopped hazelnuts later on I would still strain the mixture to remove the grit from the ground nuts)

Step 3-

Beat together egg yolks and sugar with an electric mixer at medium speed until thick and pale, 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in milk mixture and transfer to cleaned saucepan.

Step 4-

Cook custard over moderately low heat, stirring constantly, until an instant-read thermometer registers 175°F (do not let boil).

Step 5-

Immediately pour custard through cleaned sieve into a metal bowl, then set bowl in a larger bowl of ice and cold water and cool, stirring occasionally. Chill custard, covered, until cold.

Step 6-

Freeze in an ice cream maker, then transfer to an airtight container and put in freezer to harden.

We use the ice cream making attachment for our kitchenaid and I will tell you our ice cream always comes out really hard. I’m not sure why and I like it since I prefer my ice cream hard but it makes it hard to scoop!

This only makes about a pint of ice cream, for two of us it was perfect, but if you are serving a larger group you might consider a double batch so you don’t run out.

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