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chocolate

Food & Recipes

Ultimate Chocolate Layer Cake // Joe’s 29th Birthday Cake

September 13, 2016

ChocolateCake_1

Every year I make my husband a birthday cake, and every year Joe asks me to bake a chocolate cake. One of Joe’s favorite recipes of all time is a recipe I developed a couple years ago when I was working for Betty Crocker. Let’s be clear when I say that yes, this cake starts with boxed cake mix, but it’s anything but ordinary.

Actually, I should clarify that I have nothing against boxed cake mix in certain situations, including this one, where using boxed cake yields some of the best cake around.

This was my first attempt at baking this cake in layer format rather than in a bundt pan, and with a few adjustments and adaptations, it turned out really well! I would make this cake again and again, and you should, too, if you’re looking for a chocolate cake recipe that will blow your guests minds.

Plus, the leftovers taste pretty great, too. Not that I would know anything about eating leftovers after taking photographs in the middle of the day or anything. 😉

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Ultimate Chocolate Layer Cake // Joe's 29th Birthday Cake
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 8 slices
 
Ingredients
  • Cake
  • 1 box Betty Crocker Devil's Food Cake Mix
  • 1 box (4-serving) chocolate instant pudding and pie filling mix
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil
  • ½ cup water
  • 3 eggs
  • ¾ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • Frosting
  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 8 oz semi-sweet chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
Instructions
  1. Make the cake layers:
  2. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease two 9-inch cake pans. Line bottom of pans with parchment paper and set aside.
  3. In a bowl, combine the cake mix, pudding mix, oil, water and eggs and beat until smooth and well combined. Batter will be thick. Beat in the chocolate chips just until combined.
  4. Divide batter between the two pans and spread evenly in pans. Bake on the middle oven rack 22 to 28 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  5. Cool 10 minutes on wire racks. Run a knife around the edge of the cakes and remove from pans. Cool completely on wire cooling racks, about 1 hour.
  6. To Make Frosting:
  7. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the chocolate and beat until well combined, about 1 minute more. Beat in the milk vanilla and salt, followed by the powdered sugar, beating about 2 minutes or until the frosting is smooth and spreadable.
  8. To Assemble Cake:
  9. Place on cake layer on a cake plate or serving tray. Spread some of the frosting on the top of the cake evenly. Top with remaining layer. Use remaining frosting to frost top and sides of the cake. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.

Cake recipe adapted from One-Bowl Strawberry Bundt Cake 
Frosting recipe adapted from Magnolia Bakery Cookbook 

Food & Recipes

A Wine + Chocolate Girls NIght

January 28, 2016

*This post was sponsored by Ghirardelli. All opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands that make E&C possible. 

WineNight_4

January is a long month in the Midwest. I mean, after New Year’s there is a long stretch filled with cold days without much to celebrate. So what’s a girl to do? My answer was to get the girls together for a wine and chocolate party. It was the perfect way to break up the weekday routine and host friends in our newly renovated house for the first time. Although the house isn’t finished quite yet, we have a few finished rooms and that calls for a party!

The good thing about not having much on our walls right now was that I had a nice open wall to set up the spread of wine, chocolate, fruit, cupcakes and chocolate-dipped marshmallows. I was aiming to keep things on the simpler side so it wasn’t too hard to pull together on a busy weeknight but I tried to get a lot of “wow” for my minimal effort.

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Because it was a weeknight and our kitchen isn’t yet finished, I used boxed dark chocolate cupcake mix in these pretty pink foil liners I got from Walmart. The frosting was also purchased, but piping it on with either a piping bag or a zip top bag with the end snipped off makes it look a little more homemade. I topped each cupcake with a Ghirardelli Valentine’s Day chocolate and I think they turned out pretty cute!

The marshmallows were dipped in melted milk chocolate and once the chocolate hardened I used paper pop sticks and ribbon to finish off the look. And I added some fresh fruit to the mix for a lighter option and the fact that fresh fruit feels like such a luxury in the middle of a Midwest winter, doesn’t it?

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When we moved back to Iowa from Minneapolis I was a little worried we would have a tough time finding good wine locally. Growing up I remember the options being seriously limited, but I was happy to discover that has changed. Small-town Iowa has upped their game in recent years. The night’s wines were a selection of red wines (pinot nior, merlot and cab) from Josh Cellars, which has always been a favorite.

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Sometimes life feels so busy and hectic that I feel as if I don’t have the time during the week to do fun things like girls night. It can be hard to coordinate child care, the busy schedules of others, food and drink, etc. But I was reminded last night that it’s absolutely worth it, and maybe even necessary, to take time to build and maintain relationships with the women in our lives. As everyone left, we all agreed that we should make it a regular thing. Thanks, ladies, for taking the time out of your schedules to make this happen!

Madison

Food & Recipes

From the Archives: Fritos Scotcheroos

October 30, 2015
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Scotcheroos_1
Today, just in time for Saturday football games and Halloween, I’m dusting off a recipe from the archives. Joe had a work potluck today and specifically requested that I make these Fritos Scotcheroos. And who am I to deny Joe and his co-workers these amazing bars?

Before we get too far, let’s be clear: These are not healthy in any way. In fact, I think I remarked yesterday while making them that they might be the least healthy recipe on the site. But there is a time and place for over-the-top decadence, and when you’re looking to indulge, I think these bars are a pretty good option. They are the prefect mix of sweet and salty! Just be sure to cut them small to avoid going over-the-top.

You can find the recipe HERE

Fritos_Scotcheroos

 

Food & Recipes

Yellow Cake + Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting

September 22, 2015

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Joe recently celebrated his 28th birthday. I can’t believe that we’ve been celebrating birthdays together for the last 6 years. Where in the world has the time gone? This husband of mine, well I have to say that I think he’s the best. The nearly 4+ years we’ve been married and the years we dated before that (including a little while in high school, too!) have been some of the most wonderful, heartbreaking, difficult, joy-filled years of my life. Isn’t that what doing life with someone else is all about? It’s a study in contrasts, it’s work and elbow grease and it’s always, absolutely worth it.

So, my love, this year and every year I celebrate you. Your go-get-em attitude, your stubborn nature, your zest for life, toughness and compassion all rolled into one. You’re the best dad for Ainsley and the best husband for me. We couldn’t be more thankful for your presence in our life and I pray for many, many more birthdays to come. Here’s to making 28 our best year yet!

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Also: I made yellow cake with chocolate sour cream frosting for Joe’s birthday. And, gasp!, I used a boxed mix. Because I love Betty Crocker and because sometimes it’s really all about the frosting anyway. 🙂 The recipe below is just for the frosting, because I’m sure you don’t need me to repeat the instructions for making cake from a box!

Yellow Cake + Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 3 to 3½ cups powdered sugar
  • Milk, if necessary to reach spreading consistency
Instructions
  1. In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the chocolate chips and butter, stirring frequently until smooth. Remove from heat and cool.
  2. In a large stand mixer or a large bowl with a hand mixer, combine the butter-chocolate mixture, sour cream, vanilla, salt and powdered sugar. Beat until smooth and well-combined. If necessary, add a little milk to reach a firm but spreadable consistency. Store frosted cake or frosting in the refrigerator.

 

Uncategorized

Dark Chocolate, Cherry and Cashew Cookies

July 31, 2014

Dark Chocolate, Cherry and Cashew Cookies | Espresso and Cream
Hello, strangers! It feels like forever when in reality it’s only been about a week since I last checked in with you. If you’ve been following along on Instagram, you’ve seen more than enough photos of our vacation, but I’ll be sharing a full update of our time in Boston and Maine very soon. It was such a wonderful trip and even the rainy weather couldn’t get us down. A huge highlight? We happened to be in Kennebunkport at the same time as Natalie and Dan, so we grabbed ice cream together and chatted. So fun!

Now that we’re back home, I’m really looking forward to eating a little more normally. Don’t get me wrong, we ate really well on our trip, but probably a little too well! Today it’s been really nice to have a plain bowl of oatmeal with almond butter for breakfast and a sandwich with fruit for lunch. I think there’s a good reason vacation doesn’t last forever.

Surprisingly, we didn’t eat many sweets on our trip at all. We loaded up on savory items like lobster rolls, fried fish, and the most indulgent egg dishes for breakfast. When I got home the craving for a little something sweet hit right away, so I raided the bulk bins at Whole Foods on my grocery trip this morning and got to work.

Dark Chocolate, Cherry and Cashew Cookies 1 | Espresso and Cream

 

These cookies really do have it all. They’re packed with coconut, cashews, dried tart cherries and dark chocolate. And somehow, these cookies manage to feel a little bit healthy, which I’m sure is just an illusion since they also have plenty of brown sugar and butter, too. I made them on the smaller size, which means I can totally justify eating more than one.

Dark Chocolate, Cherry and Cashew Cookies
Author: 
Serves: 30
 
Ingredients
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, softened
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup roasted unsalted cashews, chopped
  • ½ cup dried tart cherries, chopped
  • 3 oz dark chocolate, chopped
  • ½ cup unsweetened coconut
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a nonstick baking mat (such as a Silpat). Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter 2 minutes until smooth and creamy. Add in the sugar and brown sugar and beat 2 minutes more or until sugars are combined and mixture is fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add the egg and beat until just combined.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat on low speed until just combined Add in the cashews, cherries, chocolate and coconut and beat until combined.
  4. Refrigerate dough at least 1 hour. Use a small metal cookie scoop to scoop dough onto baking sheet, leaving about 2 inches between cookies. Bake 12 minutes or until edges are just golden brown. Cool 5 minutes on baking sheet. Transfer to wire cooling rack to cool completely.

 

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