Wednesday, March 28, 2012

My new favorite cake!

For St. Patrick's Day I wanted to make something that was very Irish-inspired. I was told to make a dessert for my mom's potluck, so I picked this Guinness & Bailey's drenched cake. It was incredible, we took three leftover slices home and polished them off the next day (and honestly the cake was even better two days after making it). While this cake was not very attractive (the ganache was a very weird consistency, almost like a pudding?) but it made up for its ugliness by being super moist and decadent. You could make this for almost any event by varying the food coloring (green made it more festive for St. Patrick's Day)!

Perfect St. Patrick's Day Cake

1 cup Irish stout beer (such as Guinness)
1 cup butter, cut into pieces
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 eggs
2/3 cup sour cream
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup butter at room temperature
3 tablespoons Irish cream liqueur (such as Baileys), or as needed

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter at room temperature


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 9-inch cake pans with parchment paper, and spray with cooking spray.

Pour the beer into a saucepan, add the butter, and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Remove the pan from the heat, and whisk in the cocoa powder until the mixture is smooth. Allow the mixture to cool. In a bowl, beat the eggs and sour cream together until smooth with an electric mixer, and stir in the stout mixture to make a smooth, thick liquid.

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Pour the stout mixture into the flour mixture, and gently combine with a spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pans.

Bake in the preheated oven until the cakes are set and a toothpick inserted into the center of a cake comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Remove and let cool in pans for 5 minutes before inverting the cakes onto wire racks to finish cooling.

Mix together the confectioners' sugar, butter, and Irish cream liqueur until the mixture forms a smooth and spreadable frosting (add more sugar or liqueur as needed to create the desired consistency). Spread half the frosting on top of each cake.

Place the chopped chocolate into a heatproof bowl. Bring cream to almost boiling in a small saucepan, and pour over the chocolate. Stir in the butter, and stir the mixture until the chocolate melts and the mixture is very smooth. Allow to cool until the mixture is pourable but not thin or overly runny, 10 to 15 minutes. Stack a cake gently on top of the other, frosting sides uppermost, and carefully drizzle the chocolate mixture over the cake, allowing decorative drips to run down the sides.

Friday, March 23, 2012

My new favorite cookie!

Before I met The Husband, I really didn't like cookies all that much. I thought they were fine, but they weren't my top choice for dessert. In the last ten years together, he's made me see the light. Cookies are perfectly sized and easy to transport. There are an infinite number of types of cookies, and they're relatively easy to make. Take these for example - they're an interpretation of German Chocolate Cake; just as delicious but bite-sized! I've made these cookies three times in a very short amount of time, and every time I give them to someone new they tell me how much they love them. I love them, too - in fact, I'm off to make another batch! :)

German Chocolate Cake Cookies
from Pennies on a Platter

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened baking cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup shredded sweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter, sugars, vanilla and eggs. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Blend until combined, then stir in the chocolate chips, coconut and pecans.

Drop the dough by heaping tablespoons onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

**Note: I made these both with and without pecans. They were equally good!**

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Caramel Brownies

These brownies were ridiculously rich and your stomach might find them a bit obscene, but they're so good that you just must make them. If you make these I recommend keeping just one for yourself and giving the rest away. :)

Caramel Brownies
recipe from Annie's Eats

For the brownies:
1 cup unsalted butter
12 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1½ cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp. salt
1½ cups pecan, coarsely chopped (omitted)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

For the caramel filling: **I just used a jar of caramel sauce I had on hand**
14 oz. caramel candies, unwrapped
1/3 cup heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line a 9×13-inch baking pan with foil and grease the foil well with butter or cooking spray. Combine the butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Heat, stirring occasionally, until completely melted and smooth. Remove the bowl from the heat. Whisk in the sugar, eggs and vanilla until incorporated. Stir in the flour and salt just until combined. Spread about half of the brownie batter in the bottom of the prepared pan in an even layer. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, maintaining the oven temperature, and let cool for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, add the chopped pecans (if using) to a medium skillet over medium heat. Toast, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and light golden brown. Remove from the heat and set aside. To make the caramel filling, combine the caramel candies and cream in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Heat, stirring frequently, until melted and smooth. Stir in half of the pecans. Immediately spread the caramel mixture over the bottom brownie layer. Pour the remaining brownie batter over the caramel layer, taking care to pour and spread it evenly otherwise it will be difficult to spread evenly over the caramel layer. Sprinkle the chocolate chips and the remaining pecans on top of the final brownie layer. Bake for 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before slicing and serving.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Cinnamon Sugar Bread

This might be my new favorite dessert. No really, I know it's just a sweet bread but it's the best damn bread I've ever made. The entire loaf tastes just like the inside of a cinnamon roll. I can't wait to make this again, I might start bringing it to every party that I'm invited to! The bread was still good the next day, and made for a lovely-if-unhealthy breakfast. :)

Cinnamon Sugar Pull-Apart Bread
from Annie's Eats

For the dough:
2¾ cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
¼ cup granulated sugar
2¼ tsp. instant yeast
½ tsp. salt
4 tbsp. unsalted butter
1/3 cup whole milk
¼ cup water
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large eggs

For the filling:
4 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

To make the dough, combine the flour, sugar, yeast and salt in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook. Combine the butter and milk in a small saucepan and heat just until the butter is melted. Set aside and let cool briefly, until the mixture registers 115-125˚ F on an instant-read thermometer. Add the milk mixture, water, vanilla and eggs to the mixer bowl. Mix on low speed until a cohesive dough forms. Continue to knead until smooth and elastic, adding additional flour as needed 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough clears the sides of the bowl and is tacky but not sticky. Knead about 3-5 minutes. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat, and cover. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

While the dough rises, add the butter to a small saucepan and melt until browned Set aside. Combine the sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in a small bowl and mix well.Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and gently deflate. Roll into a ball, cover with a clean towel and let rest for 5 minutes.
Roll the dough out into an approximately 12 x 20-inch rectangle. Cut into 6 strips.Brush the dough with the browned butter. Sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar mixture over the dough in an even layer. (Yes, really, use all of it.)Stack the strips on top of each other and again cut again into 6 equal slices.

Stack all the squares on top of each other and set into the prepared loaf pan. Cover loosely with a kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place, 30-45 minutes.Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Transfer the loaf to the oven and bake 30-35 minutes, until the top is golden brown. (If the top seems to be browning too quickly, cover loosely with foil at the end of baking.) Remove from the oven and let rest in the pan 20-30 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the pan to loosen and carefully turn the loaf out, transferring to a serving plate. Serve warm.