1 Year of Blogging Celebrated with Delicious Cake

I can’t believe I have been blogging for ONE whole year. Well, actually yesterday was the 1-year anniversary, but last week my computer was getting fixed, and this week my internet hasn’t been working, and the last few days I’ve been busy finishing up my internship, packing, and moving back home. I’m so excited that I was able to make it this far, and I’m excited for adventures to come.

I’ve written 54 posts, and I have many more that I want to publish.  For this important anniversary, I whipped up a delicious strawberry cake with cream cheese frosting.  This cake was so decadent but so delicious.  Everyone wanted a second piece and a piece to take home.

This recipe wasn’t too complicated, but the outcome was out of this world.

For the cake:

First, I prepared the pans.  Line 3 9-inch round pans with parchment paper.  I turn my pans over and trace the outline to get the right size parchment rounds.

Once done with all the tracing, cutting, and preparing.  Butter the parchment paper.

Chop up 2 cups of strawberries. You can use frozen strawberries, thawed, but I always prefer fresh.  I would recommend frozen in the winter because the strawberries are usually frozen at the peak of ripeness, instead of being shipped 3,000 miles in the middle of winter. Puree in your food processor or blender.

In a large bowl, mix together the cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.

Add in the butter (yes, I know it is a lot, but well worth it).

Add in the strawberry puree.

Beat at medium speed for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy.  The batter is so tasty, and the strawberry flavor comes out well.

In another bowl, whisk together the egg whites, milk, and red food dye.

Egg whites?  I hate to separate out the whites from the yolks and then throw away the yolks or use them in something else.  Instead, I bought a carton of egg whites. 3 Tbsp. is equal to 1 egg white.

Mix the egg whites, milk, and 3-4 drops of red food dye.  The food dye will bring out the color of the strawberries and will make the cake a nice pink color, a little surprise when you cut open the cake.

Reminds me a little of Pepto Bismol.  I’m starting to feel a little nausea, heartburn… It will look good in the cake, so carry on.

Add the pink whites to the batter in 2-3 additions, mixing well after each addition.  Once all is incorporated, don’t keep mixing.

Divide the batter between the 3 prepared pans.

Bake for 28-33 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean.

While the cakes are cooling, whip up the frosting.  Cream together the butter and powdered sugar until thick and creamy.

Add in vanilla and cream cheese.Beat until smooth.

Put this in the fridge to cool while the cakes bake and cool.

Check the cakes.  A toothpick should come out clean.

The cake separates nicely from the pan making for easy removal.

Once cool, turn the first cake out on to the plate you wish to serve the cake on. This is one of the plates I recently purchased to showcase my desserts.

Peel off the parchment paper.

Top with a dollop of frosting (1/2 cup).  Spread out frosting.

Top with the next layer.  I was using the oven to make some bread, so one of my pans was lopsided leading to a lopsided level.

It’s not obvious from the picture, but it’s crooked.  I added extra icing on 1 side to even it out.

Top with the remaining layer. Coat the entire cake with the frosting.

I decorated the cake with strawberries.  Here is a trick I learned from a bakery I worked at.

Take a strawberry, and cut small slices in it.

Spread them apart like a fan.

I put this in the center of the cake.

See the man in the background getting his fork ready to dig in to the deliciousness.

ENJOY for whatever occasion you have, whether you are celebrating 1-year anniversary of your blog or your wedding anniversary or for your birthday.

I hope you will continue to follow my blog for many more years.

Recipe:Strawberry Celebration Cake

Recipe from: Smitten Kitchen

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Streusel Muffins and Some Catch-up

I’m sorry!  I haven’t posted a recipe in over 2 weeks.  I was in GA two weeks ago for spring break. No, I wasn’t partying like crazy and getting my 15 minutes of fame on Girls Gone Wild.  I spent my spring break, rowing, rowing, and more rowing.  I had a really great time, enjoying some warm weather.  We came back to MA, and we had a fresh layer of snow.  This past week. I was busy with lots of school, but the semester is over half way over.

I decided to catch up on some baking, and whip together 3 recipes yesterday.  I was excited.  I was going to bake 3 things in 3 hours.  Pretty good if I do say so myself.  Sadly, my brownies weren’t soft and gooey; they were dense and cakey.  I burnt my granola, too.  I think it’s a family curse.  My family loves homemade granola, but we tend to forget it in the oven.  And we remember the granola when we smell it burning.  Well, the curse hit me hard.  I did have success with my streusel muffins.

Do you happen to know someone named Martha Stewart?  Just the craziest crafty woman in America.  I really want to hate Martha because she is so perfect, but her cookbooks are amazing.  They have pictures — a must for me– of every recipe!  Well, I recently bought Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes cookbook and have been dying to try some of the recipes.  I decided to try the streusel cupcakes because they would travel well for someone’s birthday care package (Hint Hint: Erin and Emily).

Streusel Cupcakes: Begin by preparing the streusel topping.

STREUSEL TOPPING:

Whisk together the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt.  Cut in the butter using a pastry blender or 2 knives.

Continue until crumbly.

Refrigerate for 20 minutes.

CUPCAKES:

Begin, by mixing together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

In another bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.

Add 3 eggs, one at a time, beating until incorporate after each one.

Add in vanilla.

Add flour mixture and sour cream; stir just until combined.

Sour cream:  mine had a nice picture on the packaging for the Grand Canyon.

So creamy too:

Mix together the batter.

Scoop into the cupcake tins.

Remove streusel topping from fridge.   Sprinkle half on top of the cupcakes.  Press crumbs gently into cupcakes.  Sprinkle other half on top.  Don’t press down.  It may seem like a lot of streusel but it will be tasty.

Put the cupcakes in the oven for 20 minutes.  Here’s a picture of cupcakes after 2 minutes in the oven.  See how the butter in the streusel is starting to melt.  So yummy!

Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Optional: Make milk glaze (in recipe below).  Since I was mailing these, I skipped the glaze.

Recipe from: Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes

Recipe: Streusel Cupcakes

Red Velvet Heart Whoopie Pies: XOXO

Are you Valentine’s Day overloaded yet?  Well, you can’t be.  I have one more recipe to share with you. Make these whoopie pies for your friends, your family, your classmates, or that special someone.  If he or she doesn’t know you exist yet, these will be sure to woo him or her.

Red? Check.  Heart? Check. Delicious? Check.

Preheat the oven to 375˚F.

Combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.   This picture was taken before the cocoa was added.

In another bowl, beat butter for 30 seconds.

Beat in brown sugar until light and fluffy.

Add in egg and vanilla and beat.

Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk, beating after each addition just until combined.  My dough was especially thick, so I had to thin it out a bit.  I’ve adjusted the recipe, so this won’t happen to you.

Add in the red food coloring, being careful to not stir too hard and splash the coloring.

I added a whole bottle of the red that comes in the 4-pack of food coloring.  That was enough red.

Stir until all of the color is equally distributed.

Scoop batter into 1 or 2 inch diameter rounds about 1/2 inch high on greased or parchment covered baking sheets.

I wanted heart whoopie pies, so I put my batter in a plastic bag with the tip of the bag cut off. 

I piped two strips of batter onto the sheet, and then I shaped it into hearts.

Bake for 7-11 minutes depending on the size of your whoopie pies.  Don’t overbake these because you don’t want any crunch with whoopie pies, only softness.  Let cool on wire rack.

Match up your cookies to make a pair.

Now onto the frosting:

Note: Jane whipped these frosting up in a jiffy, but I wasn’t able to get any pictures of the intermediate steps.  This recipe is simple though.

Cream together cream cheese and butter together.  Beat in milk and vanilla.  Stir in powdered sugar and beat until smooth.  Taste to make sure it tastes good (this last step is optional but highly recommended). Look at that bowlful of heaven.

Spread frosting on one cookie, sandwich with the other matching cookie.

If only these hearts weren’t bad for my heart.

That’s me on the left, and Caroline on the right.

Enjoy!  Happy Valentine’s Day!!

Red Velvet Whoopie Pie Recipe from: Better Homes and Gardens

Frosting Recipe from: Sweetcakes Bakeshop

Recipe: Red Velvet Whoopie Pies

XOXO

Cookie Intervention

So I’m addicted to sweets. Cookies, cupcakes, brownies, and everything else.  This is great because I love to bake, but not great for my waistline.  I eat desserts after every meal basically, lunch and dinner.  Bad, bad, bad! So…

 

I’m taking a 2-week hiatus from desserts.  This is going to be a long 14 days, already 2 days down though.

 

Just because I’m taking a break from desserts, doesn’t mean you need to suffer.  Here’s a link for Molten Chocolate-Nutella Pudding Cakes from Noble Pig.  If you are trying to abstain from sweets too, well I hope you feel the same pain that I feel when I see this picture.  Chocolate with nutella that’s molten.  Can you imagine anything better?  Now, get out a napkin and wipe up your drool!

Spectacular Flourless Chocolate Cake

Ready for some rich, delicious chocolate.  Then you MUST Try this flourless, chocolate cake, (especially great for a party where someone can’t have gluten).
I loved it so much,I wanted to make a second to give away as a gift, but I was too exhausted after taking two 2-hour finals the same day.  My college actually has a system where you can pick when you want to take your finals over a four-day period, but after 3 days of study period, I felt prepared, so I took my remaining two finals in one day.  So I guess, this is partly my fault, but can you blame me? I was sooo ready to go home and have some time off.  Both tests went well, so it was worth the extra exhaustion.
Okay, so back to this flourlesss cake.  Get ready to be blown away.
Preheat the oven to 375˚F, and butter an 8-inch round baking pan.
Start by melting the chocolate and butter, either in the microwave (at low heat, don’t want to burn your chocolate) or over a double boiler.  At college, in my small, badly-equipped kitchen,
I decided to go the microwave route.  Make sure you use good-quality chocolate.  You want the bittersweet kind to impart a rich, intense taste for your cake.

Be careful.  I don’t like printing a recipe out, so I bring my laptop to the kitchen.  I spilled some chocolate on my computer.  Thankfully, I had a washable keyboard cover.

Once your chocolate is melted, add sugar and mix.

 

Whisk in the eggs and cocoa powder.Pour the batter into your buttered pan.  Bake for 25 minutes until the top has a light crust.

Let cool, and then flip onto serving plate.
Thanks Joy for helping me whip this up, even if you thought it was too chocolately.  Does that exist?  I don’t think so.
Enjoy  this rich, chocolately cake! You will only need a small sliver to satisfy your chocolately craving.
Recipe from Gourmet
Recipe: Flourless Chocolate Cake

Chocolate Peanut Butter Muffins

I bought a can of natural peanut butter a month or two ago and have been dying to use it in recipes to no avail. (that’s me above if you didn’t know)

What is natural peanut butter? Just peanuts, no hydrogenated oil, sugar, or anything else.   You have to give a good stir before using it because it tends to separate. Natural peanut butter definitely tastes different but once you start eating it, you will realize how much better it is.

See the different texture. Well I’ve had my jar of natural peanut butter just calling me to make some delicious treat with it (you see that cute little bear on top).

I decided to make a recipe I have for chocolate peanut butter muffins, which are basically modified cupcakes because they are so sweet.

Begin by preheating the oven to 375˚F.  Line 12-14 muffin cups with paper liners.  This makes closer to 14 large muffins, so you may need two 12-count muffin tins.

Melt butter and 1/3 cup chocolate chips in the microwave or over a double boiler.  Heating while stirring just until melted and smooth.  Set aside to cool. I used 60% cacao chocolate chips, which were extra rich. Use whatever you prefer.

Mix together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, and baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla together.

Add your liquid ingredients and the melted butter/chocolate mixture into the flour mixture.  Mix just until combined. Here’s Lisa helping me mix. She’s all smiles in the pictures, but she can be sassy, too.

Yummy chocolate.

Add the remaining chocolate chips (1/3 cup). Divide the batter evenly among the prepared pans.

Now on to the peanut swirl topping, beat together the softened butter and peanut butter.

Stir in the milk and powdered sugar.  It will be clumpy, but it will taste delicious.

Drop this sinful mixture by spoonfuls on top of each uncooked muffin.  Use a knife or fork to swirl it and separate it out from one big chunk into smaller chunks.

Bake for about 20 minutes.  Let the muffins cool for a few minutes, and then dig in.  (I warned you to wait, so if you get impatient and eat one hot, and burn your tongue, don’t blame me).

Recipe from: Cate’s World Kitchen

Recipe: Chocolate Peanut Butter Muffins

Limoncello Lemon Cupcakes

I’m not a big lemon fan in baked goods, but my good friend is so I decided to give these lemony lemon cupcakes.  What I do for my friends?  Also, this recipe included Limoncello, a lemon infused liqueur from Italy, so why wouldn’t it be good?

This is a lemon cupcake with a lemon curd filling and a lemon frosting.  If you hate lemon, don’t make these.  I don’t love lemon, but these were good.

Cupcakes

Preheat the oven for 350˚F.  Combine flour, baking powder, and salt, and set aside.

Beat butter, cream cheese, and sugar on medium speed in a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Beat for 2-3 minutes until light and creamy.  

Add the eggs individually, mixing after each egg.  Add limoncello and beat lightly.  There are a few brands, but this is the smallest bottle I could find.  I found lots of lemon vodkas, lemon rums, etc. I don’t know alcohol, so you may be able to use these.  If you do, let me know how it works.

On low speed, add flour mixture alternatively with the  buttermilk. Start and end with the four mixture.  Ever wonder why you do this?  I always did, and I recently asked the bakers at King Arthur Flour.  You start and end with flour because there is usually more flour than wet ingredients.  You add them alternatively to prevent the mixture from being shocked by all the flour or all the liquids at once.  This will shock the air bubbles right out of your baked good.  The air bubbles are key to your baked good.

Add the lemon juice and zest and mix just until incorporated.

Divide the batter between 12 muffin tins.I got 14 cupcakes out of this batter.

Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Curd Filling:

Curd filling is made by heating up a egg mixture and cooking the egg yolks without scrambling eggs.  The lemon juice in this curd and present in most curds helps thicken and strengthen the proteins in the curd.  I guess most curds have butter that also helps with this process, but this curd did not.

In a medium saucepan, combine lemon zest, lemon juice, and sugar.

This was really tart, so I would recommend adding some more sugar.   Bring to a simmer over medium heat.  While that mix is heating up, whisk the egg and egg yolk together.

Now, you will temper the eggs.  What does this mean?  This is a way to heat up eggs for a curd filling without making scrambled eggs. Read carefully. I made this and almost had scrambled eggs.  The key to tempering eggs is to add small amounts of the lemon sugar mixture into the egg mixture.  Stir constantly to prevent the hot liquid from heating up one section of the eggs and scrambling that section.  Keep adding the sugar mixture until it all has been added.

Return filling to heat and stir until thickened and no longer runny.

Here is the filling after the eggs were added.

Here’s the thickened filling.

Frosting:

Beat cream cheese and butter on medium speed for 2-3 minutes.  Add the limoncello and beat for another minute.  Reduce speed, and slowly add powdered sugar until smooth and creamy.  Taste, add more limoncello if you like a stronger lemony flavor.  If the icing is too thick, add more limoncello or water.  If the icing is too thin, add more powdered sugar.

Assembly:

I put the filling and frosting into pastry bags to make it easier to assemble.

Use a knife to cut out a small hole in the center of each cupcake.

Eat the center or throw it away, whatever you would like.

Pipe the filling into the center.

Pipe the frosting (I used a star tip) on top.  You can also use a plastic bag with a small cut made on one of the corners.  You don’t want to just use a knife to spread the icing on because it will pull up the filling and mix with the frosting.

Enjoy!  You can decorate with a candied lemon peel or berries or leave it plain as I have.  

Recipe from

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