Sour Cream Chocolate Cake

** This post was imported as a part of my top 30 from my old blog – What’s Cooking in the Orange Kitchen**

Last weekend I was really in the mood to bake something, but a lot of what I have on my to-try list is pretty involved and it was already later in the day. Looking for inspiration, I turned to my pantry. What I found was a recipe on the back of my brown sugar bag that sounded really good and more importantly, easy! As luck would have it I had all of the ingredients so I went for it. It turns out that this is another great back of the bag find (much like this brownie recipe that I LOVE). I think I am going to start looking at the back of my bags more often and seeing what other gems I can find, because this was amazing. It is incredibly moist but also flavorful. The recipe didn’t call for it, but I topped the cake with chocolate ganache and powdered sugar. I think that really added to the presentation of the cake. Next time I’ll have to make it for someone other than just Jesse and myself!


Sour Cream Chocolate Cake
(Source: The back of my “Bakers & Chefs” brown sugar bag, from Sams)

Ingredients

3 oz unsweetened baking chocolate
1/2 cup butter
1 cup boiling water
2 cups packed brown sugar
2 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla

Directions

Combine the baking chocolate, butter and boiling water in a small bowl; stir until chocolate and butter are melted.
In a large bowl, combine brown sugar, flour, baking soda and salt.
Gradually add chocolate mixture to the dry ingredients; blend well.
Add eggs, sour cream and vanilla; beat one for one minute at medium speed.
Pour into a greased and floured bundt pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Cool in the pan on a cooling rack for 10 minutes.
Invert the pan onto the cooling rack and let cool the rest of the way.
Top with chocolate ganache and powdered sugar.


Honey Peanut Butter Cookies

** This post was imported as a part of my top 30 from my old blog – What’s Cooking in the Orange Kitchen**

I usually think a peanut butter cookie is a peanut butter cookie. I love them, but I never really feel like one recipe stands out a whole lot more than another (though the addition of chocolate chips makes me want to sing and dance). This cookie, however, is in a league of it’s own. It is one of the chewiest cookies I have ever had, the texture is just amazing. As for the taste, you can definitely taste the peanut butter but it is the honey that really makes it. I also have to admit that because of the combination of peanut butter (read – protein) and honey I decided that these make a great breakfast food and had some while we were waiting for the plane the morning we left on vacation. 🙂

Honey Peanut Butter Cookies
(Source: Bake Me More)

Ingredients:

1/2 cup shortening
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup honey
2 eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Sugar for rolling -original recipe called for powdered sugar, but I like granulated on my PB cookies

Directions:

In a bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt, set aside. In a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or a mixing bowl and hand mixer), beat the shortening, peanut butter and honey. Then add the eggs and mix well. Next add the dry ingredients to the peanut butter mixture and mix well.

Round dough into 1″ balls and roll in powdered sugar. Place on un-greased baking sheets and bake at 350° for 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly on cookie sheets. Remove and place on paper towels or a brown paper bag to cool completely. Store tightly covered.

Dah dah dah dah… It’s Elmo Time!!

** This post was imported as a part of my top 30 from my old blog – What’s Cooking in the Orange Kitchen**

About a month ago a friend told me that she was throwing an Elmo themed birthday party for her sons second birthday. I have seen a few Cookie Monster cupcakes and Elmo cupcakes on various blogs in the past and I was always wishing that I had a good excuse to make them. This party was just the excuse I was looking for. So I jumped on the opportunity and offered to make the cake/cupcakes. They wound up being a huge hit and the birthday boy was definitely loving the Elmo theme.


Most of the blogs that I have seen have used frosting to make the eyes and the nose but I wanted to do something different. I also knew that I would need to spread the work out over a few days and using all frosting wouldn’t work for that. So I decided I would make the eyes and nose out of Wilton candy melts. A week before the party I did a test run on my idea for decorating the cupcakes and I was so excited when it worked. The week of the party I spread the work out over three days. On Wednesday I baked the cakes and cupcakes and then covered them will saran wrap and froze them. Thursday night I made the eyes and nose. Friday I took the cupcakes out of the freezer in the morning and then in the afternoon I did all of the decorating except for the mouth (didn’t want the gel icing to spread/melt). Saturday all I had to do was put the mouths on the cupcakes and get them safely to the party. I do think that you could do all of this work in one day. It would take several hours but it is doable. I am listing step by step instructions with some pictures below!


Elmo Cupcakes

Supplies

20-24 cupcakes (I used this recipe and this recipe)
Wilton candy melts in white and orange
Candy melting squeeze bottle (follow instructions for melting the melts)
Chocolate chips
Tooth picks
1 large bowl of hot water
Paper towels
2 cups buttercream frosting
Red food coloring
1 piping bag fitted with tip #18
Black decorating gel in .68 oz tube

To make the eyes and nose:

  1. Melt the candy melts and chocolate chips in squeeze bottles by filling a bowl with hot (but not boiling) water and placing the squeeze bottles in the water. I kept the bowl next to my work station so when I wasn’t using a bottle it was staying warm. Replace the water as necessary and keep paper towels by your side to dry of bottles as needed.
  2. Print a picture of Elmo and place the picture under a sheet of parchment paper on top of a cookie sheet.
  3. Start by outlining the eyes in white, leaving a space for the chocolate eye.
  4. Fill in the whites and use a toothpick with small, light circular motions to smooth.
  5. Fill in the spot for the chocolate by squeezing a small amount of chocolate into the space. Then wet your fingertip and lightly press down on the chocolate to fill in the space and smooth it out.
  6. Outline the nose with orange. Fill using the same circular motions with a toothpick.
  7. Move the template to a new spot on the parchment paper and repeat until you have all of the eyes and noses that you need, plus a few extra just in case.
  8. When you finish making all of the eyes and noses put the cookie sheet in the freezer to set the candy.

Assembly

  1. Fill a piping bag, fitted with tip #18, with the red buttercream frosting. Be sure to twist the top of the bag so frosting doesn’t squeeze out while you decorate
  2. Outline the edges of the top of a cupcake by holding the piping bag perpendicular to the cupcake. Lightly squeeze the bag and use a small down then up motion to make a star.
  3. Once the top of the cupcake is outlined fill in the middle using the same motions, be sure to make the stars close together and not to leave empty spaces.
  4. After the cupcake is frosted, place candy eyes on the cupcake letting them hang over the edge about 1/2 inch.
  5. Using the black decorating gel, draw a mouth below the eyes and nose.

Tips:

  • To decorate a cake, use the same method for the eyes and nose but on a larger scale. It was easier to outline the eyes/nose and then use a warm spoon to fill in the space. For the cake I used chocolate for the mouth instead of decorating gel. To pipe the frosting I used a bag fitted with tip # 2D. I used a total of 4 1/2 cups of frosting to make 20 cupcakes and one cake (it was 2 thin layers)
  • If you do not have a piping bag you could simply frost the cupcakes using a spatula and then put the eyes and nose on. It wouldn’t have the textured look but it would have the same overall feel.
  • Make sure the eyes and nose are fully set before trying to transport them to the cupcakes.
  • If you are pressed for time just use a boxed cake mix and store bought icing.
  • Wait as long as you can to use the decorating gel because it will eventually start to run/spread.
  • I hope these directions help, but if anything is unclear feel free to leave a comment or email me (orangekitchencooking @ gmail.com). I will try to clarify anything that doesn’t make sense!
  • And last but not least, don’t worry, these cupcakes are “Birthday Boy Approved”

Milk Chocolate Ice Cream with Reese Whoppers

** This post was imported as a part of my top 30 from my old blog – What’s Cooking in the Orange Kitchen**

This past Saturday I was in the grocery store check out lane when I saw something that peeked my interest. A cute little box of Reese whoppers. I’m not usually a whopper girl but I have a hard time saying no to new twists on Reese’s. I was a pretty big fan of the inside Reese cups, the newer whipped Reese candy bar, and I’ve always loved Nutrageous bars, so I grabbed a box. I tried one and I actually really liked the combination of peanut butter and crunchy malt. But I have to admit, I was really missing the chocolate component. Then it hit me, these would be an awesome addition to ice cream. I’ve made the Chocolate Ice Cream from the Perfect Scoop before and while I really enjoyed the rich flavor, Jesse prefers a more milk chocolate ice cream so for this idea I used the milk chocolate recipe.

This ice cream recipe really is awesome. The chocolate was smooth and creamy and I absolutely loved the added crunch from the whoppers. The Reese flavor is pretty subdued so if you’re looking for a strong peanut butter punch I would add a peanut butter swirl, but if you just want a small hint then this is perfect. Basically, this was fun to make, I liked using an “unusual ingredient” and the ice cream base is AWESOME.

I also want to add that I often substitute half and half for heavy cream and 2% milk for whole milk when making ice cream. It doesn’t save a ton of calories but it does help me sleep better at night and I don’t think it’s a huge sacrifice in texture or flavor. For example, I made those substitutions in this recipe and I thought the ice creams texture was among the best I’ve ever had/made. So really, if you’re feeling frisky use heavy cream and whole milk but for less guilt go with 1/2 and 1/2 and 2% milk. Below I’m listing the recipe using my substitutions.

Milk Chocolate Ice Cream with Reese Whoppers
(Adapted Ice Cream Recipe from The Perfect Scoop but it was my idea to add the Reese Whoppers ;))

Ingredients

3/4 cup milk chocolate and 1/4 cup semi sweet chocolate, finely chopped – the original recipe called for 8 ounces of milk chocolate
1 1/2 cups half and half
1 1/2 cups 2% milk
3/4 cup sugar
Big pinch of salt
4 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla – the original recipe called for Cognac, but we don’t have fancy things like that at my house 😉
1/2 cup Reese Whoppers, roughly chopped

Directions

Combine the chocolate and cream in a large, heatproof bowl and set over a saucepan of simmering water (I can’t lie I just put it right in a saucepan over medium heat and skipped the simmering water). Stir until the chocolate is melted, then remove the bowl from the saucepan (or saucepan from heat). Set it aside with a mesh strainer over the top.

Warm the milk, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm milk mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.

Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer into the milk chocolate mixture, add the vanilla and mix together. Stir until cool over an ice bath.

Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. During the last few minutes of churning, add the Whoppers.