Friday, January 20, 2012

Donut Cake

I love Williams Sonoma.  I have a tendancy to buy a lot form their sale/clearance page on their site, and in store.  So when I saw their Giant Donut Cake Pan on sale, of course it was added to the cart!  They don't have it available anymore, but you can look for one on Amazon- they have a bunch!

Who doesn't like a huge donut? 

Here's the thing.  You are supposed to make both halves and then sandwich them on top of each other to make a round donut.  Well, the thing was huge! I know cake donuts from Dunkin Donuts are round all the way around, but I don't care!  That thing was really giant.  I figured that two donuts would work out better anyways since it was for a kid's birthday party. 

So I prefer a chocolate cake donut over the plain cake donut, so I made this one chocolate.  It was not extremely chocolately, which worked, but I wouldn't have minded more chocolate too.  But it did have a nice light chocolate flavor. 
The cake itself was surprisingly not like a cake donut, you know, dry.  This was soft and had a delicate crumb. 

I have to admit I was being super lazy for the glaze.  Super lazy.  I used the Duncan Hines Glaze, vanilla flavor.  It was soooo simple and easy to use.  I had MORE than enough for both cakes.  I'm sure I could have found more than enough easy to make glazes, but I was amking a lot that day, so I went with even more simple.  Pre-made ;)

I will definitely be making this again and I am not afraid to use the glaze again either!  :)


3 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/3 cups milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 sticks butter
2 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs, lightly beaten

All ingredients should be at room temp.


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease and flour both halves of the donut pan.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, cocoa powder and salt. 
In a small bowl, combine the milk and vanilla. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer with a flat beater, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy and smooth, about 30 seconds.  Add the sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes, stopped the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Add the eggs a little at a time, beating well after each addition.

Reduce speed to low and add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the milk mixture and beginning and ending with the flour.  Beat each addition until just incorporated, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. 

Divide the batter b/w the greased pans.  Tap the pans on the countertop to eliminate any air bubbles.  Spread the batter up the sides of each pan so the sides are higher than the center.  Bake until the cakes begin to pull away from the sides of the pans and a toothpick inserted unto the center comes out clean, 40-45 minutes.  Transfer the pans to a wire rack and let the cakes cool in the pans for 15 minutes. 

Set the rack over the cakes, invert the pans onto the rack and lift off the pans.  Let the cakes cool completely, at least 2 hours, before assembling and decorating. 

Once you are ready to assemble, flip one cake, round side down.  The other cake will go right over that onecut side down (of course). Or you can do as I did and place the cut side down of both cakes on a cake plate and decorate both. :)
Then pour the glaze over top.

It cuts kinda messy, but delicious!!!  I had to put sprinkles on top cuz who doesn't like sprinkles!  Especially on a donut! 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Zuppa Toscana

So I know that for a foodie, admitting that I love Olive Garden is pretty bad. But I can't help it.  I don't love it all, but I do love some of their dishes.  You get a lot of food with a decent price and I always end up with lunch the next day.  And let me tell you, I hate when you get a cream sauce dish and bring it home and the next day, the cream has separated from the oil.  It's sooo gross. Olive Garden's cream sauces don't do that, so it makes me feel a lot less grossed out about cream sauces.  Thankfully, we don't go there often, mainly b/c the food is not healthy at all!  The Mixed Grill isn't too bad, sans the sauce.  W/out the sauce it is justmeat, squash and potatoes.  Not too unhealthy :)

Anyways, one of my sweetie pies favorite soups is Zuppa Toscana.  I was anti soup there, mainly b/c I loved the salad and b/c I never bothered to try them.  But then I had a soupful of his soup one day and I was hooked.  It is sooooo good.  Really.  Yumm.

So I set out to find a good recipe to make it at home.  I wanted a heartier version, with more kale and meat.  I found this recipe on The Pastry Affair and I knew this was the one I would try. 

Try it, you'll like it!!!

Zuppa Toscana
adapted from The Pastry Affair

1 1/2 lbs of hot Italian sausage
1 tsp paprika
2 tsp crushed red pepper
1 large white onion, fine diced
4 cloves garlic, mashed
10 cups chicken stock
5 medium Russet potatoes, sliced into disks
1 cup heavy cream
Couple of bunches of kale, torn into bite sized pieces, I used about 10 big leaves all together. 
Salt and Pepper to taste


In a large pot, saute the ground sausage, paprika and crushed red pepper ujntil the meat is browned, Drain excess fat and remove from the pot.  Set aside.
Use some of the fat to saute the onion and garlic until softened, about 10 minutes.  Add chicken stock and bring to a boil.
Add the sliced potatoes, cover and simmer until the potatoes are tender.  It took about 45-60 mins.  Add the
cream, kale and sausage and cook until heated thoroughly.

Serve hot with some crusty Italian bread, or garlic bread sticks. 

To make really easy garlic breadsticks, purchase plain half baked breadsticks (we find them at the Wonder Bread outlet).  Melt salted butter and add a few shakes of garlic powder to the butter.  Brush the melted butter onto the breadsticks before baking.  Shake a little extra garlic powder onto the top.  Bake as directed on the package.  Serve warm. 


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Roasted Banana Cinnamon Roll Cupcakes

Remember the Apple Cinnamon Roll Cupcakes I made last year, based off Andie's recipe from Can You Stay For Dinner?

Well, I changed it up this year and used a roasted banana filling instead of an apple cinnamon filling. 

The only thing I changed was the filling.  It was AMAZING people.  Seriously, I love bananas and roasted bananas are even more awesome.

Take 4 ripe bananas and slice them in a casserole dish.  Add 1 cup of dark brown sugar, 3 tbsp cinnamon and half a stick of butter, cut into pieces.  Toss it all together before putting the dish in the oven, and roasting at 350 degrees F for about 20 minutes, or until it looks like these:

Mash up the mixture so it looks like this:

Finish them off like the apple cupcakes.  Since there is so much cinnamon in the banana, you don't need to add more... unless you are like me and you want to.  I sprinkled some more cinnamon sugar over the roasted banana mixture. 

I made the same cream cheese frosting, but a little more this time and a little thicker, so it was more like frosting than icing. 

I used the edges to make a small batch of cinnamon rolls too, since they were too small for cupcakes and I also ran out of cupcake tins. 

They were so soft and banana-y and yummy.  My cousin's girlfriend raved over these too.  I really liked her after that!  :)

Monday, January 9, 2012

Sweet Potato Bundt Cake with Caramel Glaze

I have been craving sweet potato lately, actually the last couple months.  So I've been making lots with it.  I never really liked it before, but since I've had it at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, I've been hooked.  So I have been putting it in lots of different stuff.  I originally saw this recipe in the book, Eat Cake.  It's a cute story, and it comes with a whole bunch of recipes for cakes that are featured in the book.  

This recipe was slightly different in the book, but I wasn't entirely too keen on the rum part.  And I didn't really want to add dry raisins, so I changed it up a wee bit to make it a simple sweet potato cake.  It was a hit with the family.  My cousin's girlfriend had the first slice and she was in heaven.  I like her now  :)

Sweet Potato Bundt Cake with Caramel Glaze
adapted from Eat Cake

2 large sweet potatoes
4 large eggs
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 cups AP flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
4 tbsp salted butter
3 tbsp heavy whipping cream
1 tsp pure vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray a 10 inch bundt cake pan with Bakers Joy baking spray with flour.  Peel and quarter the sweet potatoes.  Boil the quarters in salted water until tender.  Drain the pot once they are done and mash them to an even consistency.  Measure out 2 cups of mashed sweet potatoes and set aside until needed. 

While the sweet potatoes are cooking, beat the eggs with an electric mixer just enough to break them up.  Add the sugar until the mixture is thick and pale, about 2 minutes.  Add the vegetable oil and vanilla and beat to blend.  Add the mashed sweet potatoes until thoroughly combined.  You will need to scrape down the sides, unless you have the beater attachment for your KitchenAid that has the scraper on the edges, these things are awesome!!!!

In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.  Add the flour mixture to the sweet potato mixture in three additions, alternating with the heavy cream. Start and end with the flour mixture.

Pour into the bundt cake pan and bake on the center rack for 1 hour or up to 1 hour and 20 mins.  Use  a wooden skewer to check for doneness after 1 hour.  If it comes out w/ small crumbs, but not wet, then it is done and take it out!

Let it sit for 10 mins in the pan and then invert onto a cooling rack with a lined baking sheet underneath to allow the excess glaze to drip down.  (I didn't do this-don't be like me!!!!  I have a pool of glaze in the middle!) 

For the glaze, combine the brown sugar, butter, and cream in a small heavy bottomed sauce pan.  Bring to a boil until the mixture thickens somewhat, about 3 minutes, stirring often.  Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. 

With a long wodden skewer, poke holes all over the cake, concentrating on the top.  Spoon half of the hot glaze over the warm cake and let the cake and remaining glaze cool for 10 more minutes, until it has thickened slightly. 

Pour the rest of the glaze over the cake, letting it spill over the sides.  Allow the cake to cool completely before cutting and serving. 

The cake will be thick and dense the first day, but even more so the next day. 

Look at all that thick delicious glaze in the middle!!!  We took a spoon and poured the excess over each piece as we were serving.  It was sooooooo good.  :)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Meyer Lemon yumminess

I always makes me happy when Meyer Lemons are around.  They are such a nice bright addtiion to recipes in the winter time.  Makes me feel like there is a bit of sunshine peaking through all of this dreary winter darkness!  Well, not today anyways; the sun is so bright today, I cannot believe it in the beginning of January!  And it's not sun reflecting off of white snow; it's just straight snow! :)

Anyways, these cookies were inspired, sort-of, by Trader Joe's Meyer Lemon Thins.  I didn't want them to be crisp and as thin as those, I wanted them to be soft, buttery and substantial that 2 could be enough (but really, are two cookies ever just enough?)

They turned out to be just perfect, a hint of lemon with a nice balance of buttery sweetness.  I actually think they could have used a bit more lemon and they would have been knock 'em dead perfect.  The recipe below was adapted from a regular lemon cookie recipe I found a long time ago in a magazine.  This was pulled from the days before I started to pay attention to what I was doing, so I couldn't tell you for sure what magazine it was, but probably Taste of Home or Woman's Day or something.  The only magazines I never cut out of were Gourmet and Bon Appetit. I still have each and every one, will never cut those up!

Meyer Lemon Rounds

1/2 cup Meyer Lemon juice (I'll probably add another 1/4 cup to this next time)
1 1/2 sticks of butter, softened
2 1/2 cups AP flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 cup white granulated sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Optional-zest of 2-3 lemons.  I don't like zest much, but the recipe used it, so I'm sure it's fine. 

Sift flour, baking soda and salt together. 

Beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla together.  Add in the butter and lemon juice (and zest, if using).  Add the flour mixture until just combined. 

Cover your bowl with plastic wrap and refridgerate for at least 30-40 minutes.  You can roll the dough out and use a cookie cutter to make the rounds or any other design, but I chose to roll them into logs like my thin mints.  I was making batches of cookies over a few days for Christmas celebrations, so it was easier to just pull the log out of the fridge and cut as opposed to rolling out dough.  Since you will be using your hands to roll these, once you have them rolled into their logs, you'll want to re-chill them since your boyd heat will soften them up again.  So chill then for at least another half hour, but no more than 2 days.

When you're ready, preheat your oven to 350°F.  Slice your log in 1/4 inch thick rounds.  Place them on a foil lined (shiny side down), about  one inch apart.  Bake them for 8-10 minutes, until the egdes are slightly golden brown. 

Let them cool on the baking sheets for about 10 mins before you transfer them to a plate or cooling rack. They are going to be very delicate, so they will sink thru the grate of the cooling rack if you put them on there too soon. 

Bright sweet, lemony-buttery goodness right there :)

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year!!!! Let's eat more cookies!!! :)

So I have been doing lots and lots of stuff the last few months- remodeling a house with my love, working, working, working, getting myself together to open a bakery, and enjoying life.  So I haven't really been on here much, both in writing and posting and reading some of my favorites blogs. 

I would like to say that the new year will bring more time for me to be here, but I am going to guarantee that won't be the case, but I definitely will get there and check in with everyone more often.

For now, I leave you with a cookie recipe that is now my most favorite recipe in the WORLD!!!  I know, that's a bold statement.  I won't say these are the best cookies in the world b/c of course it is all about preference, but really, these are so yummy.  I loved them and so did all of my friends and family who tried them. 
They are my version of a Thin Mint cookie, but not covered in chocolate, although you certainly can do that!  I prefer them without b/c there is so much flavor in the cookie alone, you don't need to add the extra bit of sugar that hurts my teeth!  And they can be baked until just done, so they aren't crunchy, or you can leave them in an extra 2 minutes to get the crunchy cookie without burning them.  :)

3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder-Dutch-process is the best for these cookies
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 sticks salted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
cup sugar
2 large egg
3/4 cup Andies Mint chips


Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until smooth. Beat in vanilla extract. Beat in sugar slowly. Add egg and beat until blended. Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, and salt in medium bowl. Add the dry ingredients and Andies chips and beat just until blended.  The dough will be very sticky. 
Divide the dough in fourths.  Roll each fourth in plastic wrap.  Roll it into a freeform log.  The log would be easier for later, but it'll be hard to make a perfect one, so just do what you can and fix it after it's been refridgerated some. 
Refridgerate for at least 2 hours or up to a day.  Once completely chilled through, take out of the fridge and shape better into a smoother log shape.  Slice 1/4 inch thick rounds.  Place the rounds on a lined cookie sheet (I use foil, shiny side down), about an inch apart.  Place the cookie sheet in the oven, preheated to 350°F.  Bake 12-13 minutes for softer cookies, 15 mins for crunchier cookies.  

This recipes makes about 6-7 dozen, depending on how big the diameter of the cookies are.  I never end up rolling the same size logs, so that's the reason for the variance in how many this will make! 

If you love chocolate and mint, these are for you.  The dark chocolate flavor with the hint of mint from the chips... omg, these are definitely addictive.  So be careful with them!!!You can also easily halve this recipe.  I've done it before when I didn't need as much, but around Christmas time and having at least 3 different houses to go to, I always make a full batch!