Archive | January, 2014

Can A Cake Become A Chex Mix? Yes – It Surely Can

20 Jan

So, Pinterest is great, isn’t it? A place to get ideas for everything from weddings and showers to parties, fashion, and my personal favorite – RECIPES! Any recipe you can ever imagine is on there, and I have made some really great things off of recipes I have “pinned”

My husband and best friend and I have a shared board where we can all pin funny stuff – but the REAL purpose of this particular board could definitely be summed up as “This recipe looks good – Catie needs to make it for us” – which is where the idea for the Better Than Sex Chex Mix came from
It’s basically a Better than sex cake in snack mix form. What is a better than sex cake, you might be wondering? Well, it’s chocolate cake infused with fudge and caramel, and topped with whipped cream and toffee bits – and IT. IS. AWESOME. It’s moist and sweet and delicious – and while I don’t know if it’s quite as amazing as the name states, I will concede that it is one of the best cakes out there
So obviously when it came to this Chex Mix, I knew I was a goner – so I immediately sent my husband to the store and got ready to mix it up

Better than Sex Chex Mix
Ingredients
8 cups Chocolate Chex® cereal
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
6 tablespoons butter or margarine
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, MINI size
1 cup MINIATURE marshmallows
1/2 cup caramel bits (found by the chocolate chips in the baking aisle — or chop up regular caramels)
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1/2 cup MILK chocolate baking chips (or more if you’re a huge chocolate fan)
1/2 cup vanilla (white) chocolate baking chips
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt

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Directions
• Into large microwavable bowl, measure cereal; set aside. Line cookie sheet with waxed paper or foil.
• In 2-cup microwavable measuring cup, microwave brown sugar, butter and corn syrup uncovered on High 1 to 2 minutes, stirring after 1 minute, until melted and smooth. Stir in baking soda until dissolved. Pour caramel mixture over cereal, stirring until evenly coated. Microwave on High 3 minutes, stirring every minute. Spread on cookie sheet. Cool 10 minutes. Break into bite-sized pieces.
• Make sure Chex mixture is cool to the touch (so candy doesn’t melt.) Evenly sprinkle mini peanut butter cups candy and miniature marshmallows over Chex mixture.
• In small microwavable bowl, microwave caramel baking bits and cream uncovered on High about 1 minute or until chips can be stirred smooth. Use a spoon or fork to drizzle over snack. Microwave the milk chocolate baking chips next, starting with 20-seconds and stirring, then at 20 second intervals until the mixture is completely smooth (microwave temps vary, so watch the chocolate and stir frequently until it’s of drizzling consistency). Drizzle over the snack mixture. Then microwave the vanilla (white) baking chips in 20-second intervals, stirring until smooth, and drizzle that over the snack mixture. (Note: The vanilla and milk chocolate chips should not need cream added.) Quickly sprinkle coarse salt over all while candy drizzles are still wet.
• Refrigerate until set. Break apart and store in tightly covered container. Perfect for gift giving!

The only changes I made to this recipe were that I used mini rolos instead of peanut butter cups (I happened to have them on hand), and I skipped the caramel chips altogether – they didn’t have them at the store and I didn’t feel like unwrapping and chopping up regular caramels – luckily the end result did not suffer from these changes!)

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Now I realize this isn’t exactly “baking”, as it only uses the microwave, but it DEFINITELY still counts as dessert (considering how much sugar is in it…)

I love the textures on this, the crunch of the chex, the softness of the rolos, and the slight salt taste you get every so often is a great balance of flavor too – I would definitely make this again, and it would be a great thing to bring to a party since it can really be an appetizer or a dessert!

Birthday Baking – Chocolate Cake Gets A Special Surprise Center

19 Jan

There are few things I love more than celebrating birthdays – and my husband’s 27th birthday was no exception! I was thrilled that he would finally be joining me and we would both be in our “late 20’s”, and I couldn’t wait to lavish him with presents, dinner and a party, and of course- BIRTHDAY CAKE!

I started with my Go-To Chocolate Cake Recipe, which has sour cream in the batter to make it extra moist
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This cake is delicious, and pretty versatile too – which means there is some room for some experimentation…hmm…luckily, I knew just the thing to get my creative juices flowing

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This book of mouth-watering frostings is written by Heather Saffer – who is actually local to Rochester NY where I live, and she is a baker who owned a cupcake shop here, and she recently won Cupcake Wars on Food Network and now is a pretty big deal, with her book and doing all kinds of appearances – check out her website Here, and you can Buy Her Book on Amazon (you can get it for your Kindle too!)

So when I saw the Salted Caramel Buttercream Recipe in the book I knew it would be the perfect “glue” between my two layers of chocolate cake
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The Salted Caramel Frosting was very easy to make on the stovetop, and once I tasted it I knew it would compliment the chocolate perfectly!
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Once I had the frosting made, I whipped up some Vanilla Buttercream to add to it to give it a perfect fluffy consistency
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Ok so cooled cake layers = check
Chocolate frosting per chocolate cake recipe = check
Salted Caramel frosting = check
Vanilla Buttercream frosting – check

All the pieces were complete, and now it was time to assemble!
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I mixed the caramel and vanilla frostings together and smeared them all over the bottom layer of cake, and I was sure to get it all the way to the edge – as this is a frosting you will want to savor with each and every bite of cake – trust me!

Once that was all set, I placed the top layer on and frosted it all up, and then stuck it in the fridge until party time

I must admit, I was nervous to serve it to my friends and family – as a layer cake isn’t exactly something you can inconspicuously try before the guests arrive (unlike Cookies which are perfect for pre-taste testing!)

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But everyone (me included!) loved the way this turned out – the cake was nice and moist, the chocolate frosting sweet, smooth, and almost a bit tangy with the sour cream, and the salted caramel really stole the show here – it was thick, sweet, but somehow not overly sweet. Needless to say, there were no leftovers of this cake – which my waistline is glad for but is a little sad at the same time (no cake for breakfast? UGH!)

If you want to make your own salted caramel or Vanilla Buttercream Frosting, then I highly suggest you pick up a copy of Heather’s book – I know I can’t WAIT to try out more of her recipes (Cinnamon Whiskey Buttercream or Maple Bacon are calling my name I think…YUM!). My dad’s birthday is next month so you better believe I will be using The Dollop Book of Frosting again real soon!