Homemade Thin Mints

Posted on March 19, 2010. Filed under: Chocolate, Cookies, Desserts |

Say hello to my second batch of homemade girl scout cookies, HELLO!!

Last week I posted Samoas/Caramel DeLites, my FAVORITE!

This year I decided no more buying girl scout cookies. They are pumped with chemicals and preservatives, hence the waxy coating on the outside. And they are cookies, just cookies. Which means I can for sure make them. And thin mints don’t seem that hard. Cookies and chocolate coating, not too difficult. So I went exploring for a thin mint recipe. I didn’t have to go far before I found one on 101 Cookbooks. Of course Heidi has made them! She makes great vegetarian recipes and also desserts so I knew it was a trusted recipe.

In the recipe it says to roll out the dough on a floured surface and use a cookie cutter to cut out circles. I got lazy (I really just hate cleaning up paste-y flour from my counter tops). So I divided the dough into 2 balls. Rolled each ball into a log about 1 1/2 inches thick and wrapped it in plastic wrap and put it in the freezer for about an hour. Then I just cut slices of the log to make the cookie disks.
*When you do this, roll the log every 2 or 3 slices. This will prevent 1 edge of the cookies from becoming flat. It will help keep a rounded log/cookie.

No, the cookies weren’t all the exact size or perfectly round like a true thin mint or like they would be if I used cookie cutters. But let’s be honest, we eat these things by the dozen so we don’t even have time to notice the small imperfections. Well, at least I don’t If I was giving these away as a gift to someone, I may take the time to roll them out and use a cookie cutter. But for the purpose of quickly inhaling them because they smell so wonderful, perfection is obsolete.

Recipe From 101 Cookbooks

Just go to her website and follow the directions exactly. When it comes to the part where you can roll the dough in a ball and place it in the freezer, this is when you can roll it into the log and freeze it for slicing. Either way, these cookies will fill your house with a fantastic chocolate, butter, mint aroma. To-Die-For!!!!

Oh, and my pictures suck. I have become so much better at food photography. Not to be confused though, I am by NO MEANS calling myself a good photographer. I have just improved.

For how impressive these are in taste, the pictures sure don’t capture it. But oh well, what can I do? Oh, I can make them again, REAL soon and take better pictures. Done and Done!

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St. Patrick’s Day Blondies AND and Update

Posted on March 17, 2010. Filed under: Cookies, Desserts, Holidays |

Growing up my favorite cookie was an M&M cookie. You know, the sugar cookies studded with M&M’s that you buy for $3.99 at Ralphs? Yep, those were the ones. We didn’t get them very often because they were expensive. Well, $3.99 isn’t a ton of money. But when you eat like my brother and I did, those things were lucky if they even made it in the front door.

I don’t make M&M cookies at home though. The only reason; I will eat them all. They are my weakness. My guilty pleasure. My comfort dessert. M&M’s and Peanut M&M’s are my favorite candy. I am just a sucker for anything with them in it. 2 years ago on Christmas my sister-in-law gave my bro-in-law a huge bag of peanut M&M’s in his stocking. Guess how long they lasted? Less then 2 days. Yep, I ate my brother-in-law’s Christmas present in less then 48 hours. Moral of the story: You can’t leave me alone with M&M products.

2/3 cup butter
1 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup green m&m’s

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray non stick spray in a 13×9 inch glass dish.
In a small bowl combine the flour, egg, baking soda.
Mix the butter and sugar together with a hand mixer or stand mixer. Add in the egg, mix well. Then add in the vanilla extract.
Mix in the M&M’s into the batter. Pour the batter into the glass dish and bake for 30-35 minutes. Until the top is golden brown. Allow to cool to room temperature then cut into bars.


A little over 2 months ago we found out we had a miscarriage. The type of miscarriage we had is called a blighted ovum. I received so many responses that were so encouraging. I also received a few responses from women who were going through the same thing around the same time. I am so sorry for the pain you have gone through as well, it’s awful, I know!!! I am glad I shared about the miscarriage on here. But I think I need to update you, just in case you are wondering πŸ™‚

I had the d&c (the surgery to remove the remaining tissue) on January 26th. Everything went really well. Some people have pain for weeks following the surgery. I only had pain for a day or 2. I decided to find some blogs about how to loose the weight after a d&c. I was pregnant, so I gained weight. And unfortunately I gained way too much because I felt so sick and the only thing that somewhat helped the nauseousness was carbs. Good old complex unhealthy carbs. I gained 10 pounds in 2 months, ridiculous, but oh well. 2 weeks after the d&c I got the stomach flu. Well, if that isn’t a weight loss plan, I don’t know what is. That helped me dropped 5 lbs, immediately. Since then I have started training for a half marathon which is getting me back in shape. In case you think training for something will help you loose weight, think again. You are ravenously hungry most of the time, FYI. Yes, your cardio and muscles are toned and healthy, you just might not loose those extra 3 lbs you were hoping too.

Within 2 weeks of the surgery my body started to feel normal again. The pregnancy symptoms started to go away and I was feeling like myself. I was so excited to have energy to exercise, cook, bake, get up in the morning. It was great. But of course I still had the little lingering thought that in August we won’t have our baby. As the weeks have progressed the hurt isn’t as strong. But there are random reminders of what we went through, and when those reminds come up, I am taken back for just a few moments. I take a minute to make sure I hold my composure and then I move on. I don’t want this to cripple us. And it hasn’t.

My body is 100% back to normal and hopefully in the next few months we will be able to get pregnant again. My doctor kept reminding me that we aren’t dealing with infertility (I guess I looked worried about it, but I wasn’t). We had a miscarriage, which sucks. But it doesn’t equal infertility. So we need to remember that and not get stressed that we won’t be able to get pregnant quickly again. As great as it would be to get pregnant immediately again, I understand the reality. We are hopeful it will happen quickly, but realistic that sometimes this takes time. And that is okay.

I would lie if I said we weren’t nervous about a future pregnancy. We are nervous we will miscarry again and have to experience this all over again. And we might. But we have decided we won’t let that prevent us from trying. We will adopt one day too. Adoption has been put heavily on my heart and I can’t wait to do it one day. So if pregnancy doesn’t work for the first one, hopefully adoption will. In any case, we will have kids at some point and we are so excited for that day. We will be married 6 years in June, and hope that by our 7 year anniversary we will have a baby. In the meantime we are praying for our future family and looking forward to what God has in store for us…

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Samoas/Caramel DeLites- PHO Free!

Posted on March 12, 2010. Filed under: Chocolate, Cookies, Desserts |

I am a little crazy, nutty, koo-koo, eccentric, out there, off my rocker, whatever you like to call it…I can go off on tangents and never quite find my way back.

Like partially hydrogenated oils. There isn’t 1 redeeming quality about them. Yes, they preserve food, but I don’t consider that a redeeming quality.

For the last few years my husband and I have been slowly eliminating Partially Hydrogenated Oils (PHOs) from our diet. Slowly is the key word here. Many foods that we really like have PHOs in them; so one by one we are eliminating those from our lives. Graham Crackers, Saltines, CoffeeMate creamer, and girl scout cookies, just to name a few. This was the first year I said absolutely, 100% will I NEVER eat another girl scout cookie. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I know they taste good. I KNOW. But instead of buying them, I will just make them.

I am a huge advocate for homemade goods anyway; breads, ice cream, yogurt…So why not make homemade Samoas, and maybe Thin Mints soon as well…

Do you take a stand on anything? Even if it doesn’t make sense to other people? Or seems wacky, crazy, or inconvenient? I encourage you to take a stand for something you believe in. Do it, don’t worry about what people will say. Someone will always be for you and someone will always be against you. Do it, Do it, Do it.

Come on, these look a million times better then the processed version, and they don’t even have the chocolate on them yet.

As I browsed some food blogs to find a recipe for the Samoas/Caramel DeLites, I came across the one I settled on. She did a great job of documenting her cookie making procedures through pictures, a REALLY good job.

Recipe Adapted from Home Cooking in Montana
Makes about 3 – 4 dozen cookies, depending on the size of them obviously

1 cup butter, soft
1/2 cup sugar
2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
up to 2 tbsp milk (I only had to add 1 tbsp)

In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Mix in flour, baking powder and salt at a low speed, followed by the vanilla and milk, adding in the milk as needed to make the dough come together without being sticky (it’s possible you might not need to add milk at all). The dough should come together into a soft, not-too-sticky ball. Add in a bit of extra flour if your dough is very sticky. Place dough unto a plastic wrap and from into a log (about 2 inch in diameter). Refrigerate overnight or for a few hours until hard.
Preheat oven to 350F.

Unwrap cookie dough and cut into 1/4 inch or slightly thicker slices. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet.

I know these don’t have the holes in the center. We tried to do that, but it just wasn’t working. Not 1 person made a comment about holes not being there. The comments that were made involved words like, “yum, insane, delicious, wonderful, unbelievable.” You get the point. So don’t sweat it if you don’t put holes in the middle of your cookie.

Bake for only about 10 minutes, until edges are lightly golden.
*You may need to cook them slightly longer or shorter depending on your oven temperature, so pay close attention so you don’t burn them.
Cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

3 cups shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
12-oz good-quality chewy caramels (I made homemade caramel and used about 2 cups worth)
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp milk
12 oz. dark or semisweet chocolate (you might need more chocolate)
vegetable oil (for thinning the chocolate)

Preheat oven to 300. Spread coconut evenly on a parchment-lined baking sheet (preferably one with sides) and toast 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, until coconut is golden. You don’t want burned coconut! Cool on baking sheet, stirring occasionally. Set aside.

Unwrap the caramels and place in a large microwave-safe bowl with milk and salt.
Cook on high for 3-4 minutes, stopping to stir a few times to help the caramel melt. When smooth, fold in toasted coconut with a spatula.
*If you are using homemade caramel, melt it in the microwave with the 3 tbsp milk for less then a minute and then stir in the toasted coconut.

Using the a small spatula, spoon or fork, spread topping on cooled cookies, using about 2-3 tsp per cookie. Reheat caramel for a few seconds in the microwave if it gets too firm to work with.

While topping sets up, melt chocolate and vegetable oil in a double boiler.
*You will probably need a couple tablespoons of vegetable oil.

Dip the base of each cookie into the chocolate and place on a clean piece of parchment paper (place the parchment paper on a cookie sheet). Using a spoon, drizzle finished cookies with chocolate. Let chocolate set completely before storing in an airtight container.
*You can put the cookie sheet with the cookies on it in the freezer for them to harden quickly (less then 10 minutes), or in the refrigerator (about an hour).

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Homemade Caramel Candy

Posted on March 11, 2010. Filed under: Desserts |

Making caramel was a very last minute decision yesterday. Not a lot of planning and blog post prepping went into these. As I am writing this I am trying to figure out how I will transition into the caramels…Okay, this will do: I guess I can tell you why I decided to make homemade caramel candies though.

My friend was coming over to make some homemade girl scout cookies. Samoas and Thin Mints. I realized I didn’t have any little Kraft caramel candies in the house to use for the coconut caramel layer of the Samoas (That post is coming soon…). And I was too lazy to go to the store to get some. So I had a novel idea, why not just make the caramel?!? I am nuts. I am too lazy to go buy the candy, but I am not too lazy to make it myself. I surprise myself constantly. Want to be friends? If you do, be prepared, I am literally off my rocker, not sometimes, but most of the time.

I randomly had all the ingredients on hand and went for it. 40 minutes later, we had caramel. Real life, gooey, sticky, chewy, buttery, delicious caramel. Here’s the crappiest, super duper lame part: I gave up dessert for Lent (which isn’t lame, it’s lame that that means I can’t eat the caramel right now). So I didn’t even try the it. My friend did though. She was the taste tester for all of our baking done last night (caramel, Samoas and Thin Mints).

We used half of the batch for the Samoas and the other half we turned into candies. The half for the samoas was put in to the microwave with a little milk to melt it to mix with the coconut. And then we cut up little pieces of parchment paper to wrap around the cut pieces of caramel.

This wasn’t nearly as hard to make as I thought it would be. You sort of just throw all the ingredients in a pot and let the temperature rise. Then pour it into a pan and wait a few minutes for it to firm up. And there you have it, CARAMEL.

Super, 1 more thing to add to my list of items that are 1000% times better homemade then store bought. Up until this point I had been totally content using the little store bought square caramel candies in recipes. Now I will have to make homemade caramel every time I need it. We were trying to distinguish the difference in taste from homemade to store bought. Bottom line: homemade taste like rich buttery goodness and the store bought tastes like plastic. Seriously, that is the conclusion we made. Sure, store bought tastes like sugar, and butter and sticks to your teeth; all the aspects we love about caramel. But it also has the flavor of plastic.

I think we have become accustomed to that plastic flavor that so much of the food we buy has. We just settle on it because it is easy and convenient. I get it, I do. But after you try this real life homemade goodness, you will not longer settle for processed convenience. I am becoming a snob. I will admit it.

The recipe makes a ton of little caramel candies. Anywhere from 60-100, depending on what size you make them. If you cut them in 1/2 inch cubes, you will get closer to 100. But if you cut them in 1 inch pieces, closer to 60.

Recipe from Giver’s Log

2 1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup corn syrup
1-14oz can sweetened condensed milk (I used fat free and it worked great)
1 cup butter, cubed
1 tsp vanilla

Melt butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat. When it has completely melted, add brown sugar, corn syrup and condensed milk. Stir until thoroughly combined.

Cook and stir on medium-high heat until it starts to boil. Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan, but don’t let it tough the bottom.

Once it has started to boil, reduce the heat to medium and allow it stay at moderate steady boil until it reaches 245 degrees (This takes about 30 minutes).
*It will seem like it is taking forever, and then all of a sudden in the last couple minutes the temperature will shoot up, so watch it closely towards the end.

Remove from heat, stir in vanilla. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and pour the caramel into the sheet.
*The caramel won’t fill the entire surface of the cookie sheet (I was using a bigger one though). And that’s okay that it doesn’t cover the entire surface. The edges of the poured caramel don’t have to be perfect since you will be cutting it into pieces anyway.
Cool for at least 15 minutes and cut into squares.
*cut into long strips, then cut the long strips into little pieces.

Wrap the squares in pieces of parchment paper, and there you have it, caramel candy.

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Orange Almond Cake- Flourless/Gluten Free

Posted on March 10, 2010. Filed under: Cake, Chocolate, Desserts, Fruit |

I know there are traditional Easter desserts. Well, I am assuming there are. In my family we don’t really have food traditions. Except that we eat. Our holiday food traditions are to eat.Food. But what kind of food is always a surprise. Sometimes we have turkey, ham, stuffed peppers, filet, chicken. And for dessert pumpkin pie is on the Thanksgiving table. But that is really the only dessert that is consistent with a holiday. So for Easter there isn’t a particular dessert that we have been anticipating all year. A few years ago I made Banana Cream Cheesecake. Last year I made a Chocolate Heath Bar Oreo trifle. And this year, I think I am going to go with this cake…

Last night I taught a cooking class at my house and we made the Orange Almond Cake. I saw this cake on some food blogs and it sounded amazing and that’s when I decided I have to try it before I commit to making it for Easter. Perfect, cooking class students can be the guinea pigs. The theme of the class was ‘Easter Brunch.’ One of my friends is gluten free, and I wanted to make a dessert that uses seasonal produce and is gluten free but didn’t require a fancy flour (rice, soy, etc…). We can all find almonds in our grocery store which means anyone can make this cake by grinding up almonds in their food processor. I happen to be fortunate enough to live near 400 specialty grocery stores that carry almond flour so I don’t have to grind almonds, I just measure out the pre-ground almond flour. Anyway… The ‘students’ in the class went for it and made the cake. They whipped the egg yolks and threw the egg whites in the stand mixer and let it go to town creating the peaks on the whites. Then we just folded the mixtures together, poured it in the pan and plopped it in the oven. Easy. Seriously, it’s not complicated at all.

The step in this cake that really can’t be forgotten is the time for the cake to chill after it bakes. When the eggs bake they puff up a little and when you chill it is helps the eggs become dense and rich. The texture of the cake, after it chills for at least 8 hours, is almost like cheesecake. Not quite as dense because it doesn’t have the cream cheese, but similar. The orange is such a refreshing flavor. And the almond meal gives it a deep rich taste and texture. The chocolate ganache on top, well, that’s just delicious on top of anything.

I am happy to say that everyone in the class enjoyed the cake, even though it didn’t have time to chill before they dug in. And I am also excited for Easter, when this cake will be made again.


3 medium oranges or 2 large naval oranges
6 large eggs, separated
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup ground whole almonds
1 tsp baking powder
*optional spices: 2 tsp cardamom or 2 tsp cinnamon

Place the washed, whole and unpeeled fruit in water to cover, and bring to a boil. Simmer for 1Β½ hours or until soft, adding more water when necessary. Drain the oranges, cut into quarters, discard any major pips, and puree the fruit in a food-processor, then cool to room temperature.

Heat the oven to 350F.

Beat the egg yolks and sugar together in a large bowl until pale. Beat in the oranges, almonds, and baking powder.

Beat the egg whites until soft peak and fold gently into the mixture.

Pour into a 9″ spring form cake pan and bake for an hour, until firm to the touch (cover with foil if over-browning). Cool in the pan and chill overnight.
*The batter can be poured almost to the top of the pan, it doesn’t rise very much.

Pour chocolate ganache over the whole cake and put it in the fridge for 10 minutes to let the chocolate firm up a little..

Chocolate Ganache

8 oz bittersweet chocolate. chopped finely
1/2 cup heavy cream

Place ingredients in a metal bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Allow the chocolate to melt, stirring occasionally. Remove the bowl from the double boiler when it is almost, but not quite, melted. Set the glaze aside to finish melting, stirring once or twice until perfectly smooth. When the glaze is smooth and shiny, pour it over the cake to cover it completely or partially. Chill the cake in the fridge for 10 minutes to set the glaze before removing it from the rack.

Laura commented on my blog abotu this cake.

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Avocado Lemon Cornmeal Cake

Posted on March 9, 2010. Filed under: Cake, Desserts |

You know when you are wandering through the grocery store and you see an item of produce on sale, that is usually much more expensive then its sale price, you grab some, maybe too many. That is me and avocados. Anytime they go on sale for 2 for $1, or 3 for $1, OR 4 FOR $1. Holy Moly. 4 avocados for $1. But I did have some self control. I did only buy 4. But don’t get me wrong, I was tempted to buy $10 worth and figure out where to store them.

We like avocados, but we don’t eat them by the spoonful like I know some people do. So I had to find a way to use avocados in ways other then for guacamole or on salads. Oh ya, I made a chocolate avocado cake a few weeks ago. I wonder if I can make a flavor other then chocolate? So I went to the same place I found the chocolate avocado cake, and low and behold, she had a recipe for exactly what I was envisioning.

Because of the avocado the cake is super moist and rich. The cornmeal gives it a texture that really satisfies your taste buds, and the lemon freshens up the flavor. The combination of the avocado, lemon nd cornmeal are incredible; something I would have never imagined, but it works SO WELL.

Recipe modified from Joy the Baker’s recipe
makes 1 loaf Cake or 12 muffins/cupcakes

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup applesauce (you can use butter instead. I use applesauce to lower the fat)
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 c. milk (I use 1%)
Juice of 1 lemon, about 1/4 cup
1 tbsp lemon zest

sour cream

Scoop out the flesh of 1 1/2 ripe avocados, just over a cup to a cup and a half of avocado, mashed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour mini bundt pans or 1 loaf pan.

In a medium sized bowl, sift together flours, cornmeal, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat applesauce on medium speed and add the sugar and beat for about 30 seconds. Add the avocado and beat for a minute to incorporate. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure that everything is thoroughly mixed.

Add the eggs one at a time, beating 1 minute after the addition of each egg. Beat in vanilla extract, lemon juice and lemon zest.

Reduce the mixer speed to low and add half of the flour mixture, all of the milk, and then the rest of the flour mixture. Beat just until combined.

Divide the dough between the 12 muffin/bundt cups (of pour into the loaf pan) place in the preheated oven.

Mini Bundts/Cupcakes: Bake for 20-25 minutes
Loaf: Bake for 40-45 minutes

Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then invert onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

To serve these I cut up slices of grapefruit and put a dollop of sour cream on each mini bundt. If you made this into a loaf you could put the grapefruit and a dollop of sour cream on each slice. The tartness and juiciness of the grapefruit combined with the dense creaminess of the sour cream went amazingly well with the cake. I know, all of this is an interesting match but I served these to some friends at a girl’s brunch, and they were gone really quickly. So I will let that speak for how delicious they are. And they smell amazing as well!!!

I had a few mini bundts leftover, so I put them in a zip lock baggie and froze them. In a couple weeks when I am craving an avocado lemon cake, I can just pull them out of the freezer and eat them up!

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Chocolate Chip Cheesecake

Posted on February 25, 2010. Filed under: Cake, Chocolate, Desserts |

This post is WAY late. I made this on Valentine’s Day. We had church that night and I promised a few people a wonderful cheesecake if they came (when there is a holiday people use that as an excuse not to come to church, so bribing is the best way I have found to get them to come).

The first time I made cheesecake I was so nervous. It seemed so difficult and potentially temperamental. But I really really really enjoy cheesecake so I had to go for it. I will never forget my first cheesecake attempt/success. Oreo; oreo crust and plain cheesecake with big chunks of oreos in the cheesecake. MMMM, It was soo good. And then my second cheesecake was White Chocolate Raspberry. (I worked at the Cheesecake Factory during college, so I got first hand exposure to lots of different flavors). After those 2 I felt pretty good about my cheesecake making ability and started to experiment even more. I have made many many cheesecakes over the few years since college. But this is my first one with a chocolate ganache on top. I don’t know how I will ever be able to enjoy cheesecake without it now. It pushed this over the edge of great into freaking awesome.

Something I really like about making cheesecake is that you can use low fat ingredients. I always use low fat cream cheese and sour cream. Because you use so much sugar and eggs, you will never know you are cutting some of the fat. And I KNOW other people won’t either. Because those folks I bribed at church, they devoured this thing and had no idea!

For the crust
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (10 crackers: 1 bag)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the filling
32 ounces (4 blocks) low fat cream cheese at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 whole extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1/4 cup sour cream, low fat
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup mini chocolate chips

For the ganache
1/2 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup chocolate chips (milk chocolate or semi sweet)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

To make the crust, combine the graham crackers and melted butter in a bowl until moistened. Pour into a 9-inch springform pan. With your hands, press the crumbs into the bottom of the pan and about 1-inch up the sides. Bake for 8 minutes. Cool to room temperature.

Raise the oven temperature to 450 degrees F.

To make the filling, cream the cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Reduce the speed of the mixer to medium and add the eggs, 1 at a time, mixing well. Scrape down the bowl and beater, as necessary. With the mixer on low, add the sour cream, and vanilla. Fold in the chocolate chips. Pour into the cooled crust.

Bake for 15 minutes. Turn the oven temperature down to 225 degrees and bake for another 1 hour and 15 minutes (DO NOT open the oven door when you lower the temperature. Trust you oven, and KNOW that your cheesecake is not burning after 15 minutes). Turn the oven off and open the door wide. The cake will not be completely set in the center. Allow the cake to sit in the oven with the door open for 30 minutes. Take the cake out of the oven and allow it to sit at room temperature for another 2 to 3 hours, until completely cooled. Wrap and refrigerate overnight.
*Lowering the temperature and letting it cook for a little longer allows it to cook all the way through without browning it or making too many cracks in the top. Turning off the oven and letting the cake sit inside with the door cracked is a great trick to continue cooking it, but it won’t brown or burn.

Remove the cake from the springform pan by carefully running a hot knife around the outside of the cake. Leave the cake on the bottom of the springform pan for serving.

To make the topping, heat the heavy cream and chocolate chips in a double boiler over low heat. Once the chocolate has melted and is stirred in, remove the bowl from the heat and let it cool. Allow it too cool to room temperature. It will thicken as it cools. But you will still be able to pour it onto the cheesecake. Carefully pour the ganache into the middle of the cheesecake and spread it to the outside, leaving about 1/4 of an inch space from the edge. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

I cut a piece of the cheesecake for its ‘photoshoot’ about an hour before church on Valentine’s night. As I was taking pictures I thought it would be great to have a picture of a bite of the cheesecake. And then another bite, and another, and oh crap, I ate the entire slice. And then I proceeded to eat more. I literally ate about 1/8 of the entire cake by the time it was all over. It was good stuff!

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Chocolate Cake with Mascarpone Buttercream

Posted on February 22, 2010. Filed under: Cake, Chocolate, Desserts |

When I bake I try to bake something with someone in mind. I do this with the intention of giving that person what I bake. Good grief if I ate all of what I baked, my new name would be fat girl in a fat body. Granted, I have been blessed with a fast metabolism (a little too fast at times thanks to Grave’s Disease) and I also LOVE to exercise.

I like to ask my future ‘baked good receiver’ what their top 3 favorite desserts are. That way I can get an idea of what they like or what they don’t like. I don’t usually bake something exactly from that list. I modify it a tiny bit to add my own flair. For instance, my friend from childhood (we have known each other for 22 years) loves chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. So I took that and ran with it.

Chocolate Cake
3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cups good cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk, shaken
1/2 cup applesauce
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee

Mascarpone Buttercream
1 stick butter, room temperature
8 ounces mascarpone, room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar
1 tbsp kahlua
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt

Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, mix the butter for about 1 minute. Add the buttercream and mix for 2 minutes. Add the sugar, 1/2 cup at a time. Add the kahlua and vanilla.

Chocolate Ganache
1/3 cup half and half (You can use heavy cream, and then just use a little less chocolate)
1 cup milk chocolate, chopped

Chocolate Cake

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray non stick spray in 2 (8-inch) round cake pans.

With a whisk, mix the flours, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into until combined and any lumps are broken up. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, applesauce, eggs, and vanilla. Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients while whisking. Add the coffee and whisk just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.

Place 1 layer, flat side up, on a flat plate or cake pedestal. With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting. Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake.

When the ganache has cooled, pour it over the top of the cake, slowly. You can speed the hardening process of the ganache by putting it in the fridge for about 20 minutes.

I cut out a piece (A really large piece, since we were sharing you know) for my husband and I to enjoy. His words exactly, “This is the best chocolate cake and frosting you have ever made…(He eats another bite) This is the best frosting I have ever had.” I had to agree with him. This frosting, holy freaking cow, out of the world. For me, this frosting made the cake. Without it, it would have been just plain chocolate cake. But the mascarpone just took it to another level.

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Mini Vanilla Bundts

Posted on February 19, 2010. Filed under: Cake, Desserts |

This year I made way too many desserts on Valentine’s weekend. I mean way too many. I woke up Monday morning after V-Day and felt like I needed to be wheeled into the shower and then wheeled into work. Cakes, cheesecake, ice cream, candy…And the list goes on.

Good thing Lent started this week; I gave up dessert for 46 days. Crazy, I know. Everyone at work has been concerned that by me giving up desserts it means I won’t be making any to bring in. I reassured them that my fast doesn’t mean I making them fast from scrumptious treats. They felt so relieved, seriously.

This vanilla cake is my standard, basic vanilla cake mix. I love it. It is simple and delicious. You can do almost any flavor of frosting with it: chocolate, raspberry, strawberry, vanilla…Whatever your heart desires. A scoop of strawberry frozen yogurt is what my heart desired with my cake.

Makes 12 cupcakes/mini bundts
Vanilla Cake
1/4 cup canola oil
2/3 cups of sugar
1 egg
1 tsp Vanilla
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease 12 mini bundt cups.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, mix the oil, sugar and egg. Add the flour mixture and buttermilk alternately. Pour into the mini bundt cups.

Bake for 17 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then finish cooling on a wire rack.

*The tops of the bundts will be uneven from baking, so I just cut off that part so they sit evenly on a plate or tray. And I most likely do or don’t eat the parts I cut off πŸ™‚

White Chocolate Topping
1/2 pound white chocolate, cut into small pieces
3 tbsp vegetable oil

Melt the chocolate and vegetable oil in a double boiler (or a glass bowl over a pot of water). You may need to add more vegetable oil to achieve the desired consistency. It should be about the same consistency as heavy cream; thick, but thin enough to run down the sides of the cake. Top each bundt with a spoonful of the white chocolate, then sprinkle some pretty sugar crystals sprinkles on the wet chocolate.

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Strawberry Frozen Yogurt – Non-Fat

Posted on February 18, 2010. Filed under: Desserts, Ice Cream |

I love homemade ice cream.

I love frozen yogurt.

So I combined these 2 loves into homemade frozen yogurt. At first I wasn’t sure if using nonfat greek yogurt would keep a good consistency. I thought it might get too icy because there wasn’t a high enough fat content. I was surpised to find out that did not happen. The frozen yogurt was perfect. Perfectly sweet, flavorful and creamy. I was so impressed. I can’t wait for summer and to make lots of different flavors using this same recipe.

I think peach, kiwi, blackberry, and vanilla bean will be on my list to make sooner then later.

About 1 quart
Recipe Adapted from David Lebovitz

“French yogurt is astoundingly good and I suggest you use a good-quality, whole milk or Greek-style yogurt for best results.” – David Lebovitz

1 pound strawberries, rinsed and hulled
2/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons malibu rum (a raspberry or vanilla vodka would be yummy too)
1 cup non fat greek yogurt( or whole milk plain yogurt)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Slice the strawberries into small pieces. Toss in a bowl with the sugar and vodka rum (if using) until the sugar begins to dissolve. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for 2 hours, stirring every so often.

Transfer the strawberries and their juice to a blender or food processor. Add the yogurt and fresh lemon juice. Pulse the machine until the mixture is smooth. If you wish, press mixture through a mesh strainer to remove any seeds (I didn’t do this because I like the seeds in the yogurt).

Chill for 1 hour, then freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

*Even after I froze it in the ice cream maker, I like to freeze it in the freezer for about an hour before serving. Just to firm it up a little more. Some frozen yogurts get really hard when you freeze them. Or after a couple days in the freezer they are like a rock. This recipe did not do that for me. It stayed the perfect consistency for the 4 days I had it in the freezer. The day this yogurt was gone, I made some banana frozen yogurt using the same recipe, just subbing banana instead of strawberry. Oh man, that was good stuff too!

Here are a couple of my favorite homemade ice cream recipes, some are mine, some are from Bonnie the Baker:
Peanut Butter and Jelly Ice Cream
S’Mores Ice Cream
Banana Caramel Chunk Ice Cream
Chai Frozen Yogurt

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