One Bowl Chocolate Cake with Dark Chocolate Mascarpone Frosting

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I decided this holiday season to start some new traditions for my family. Before Christmas, the kids and I attempted to make a gingerbread house from scratch…next year we’ll work out all the kinks and I’ll post those results 😉 We never do anything for the New Year, so I decided it would be fun foods for dinner (the kid’s choice) and a cake to celebrate and make a “wish” on (actually, we’re going to announce what goals we’d like to meet for the New Year).

Verdict: Yum! The cake itself is fairly lean, but the three sticks of butter and cup of mascarpone cheese more than makes up for that! 😉 This cake is a new favorite and I love that it makes a double layer 8-inch, cute, little cake 😉 Oh, and the frosting! It’s fluffy, rich, but not too sweet. It makes a huge batch (about 4 cups) so I used about half and froze the rest. Oh, and I piped “2014”  with melted white chocolate with some coconut oil mixed in to make it thin it out and make it smooth. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

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One-Bowl Chocolate Cake – adapted from Martha Stewart

  • 3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached cake flour (150 grams) or AP flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 3/4 cup water + 3/4 tsp espresso powder (*espresso optional*)
  • 3 tablespoons safflower oil
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions –

Preheat oven to 3o0 degrees. Butter two 8-inch round cake pans (2 inches deep); grease and line each cake pan with parchment paper. Sift cocoa, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of a mixer. Beat on low speed until just combined. Raise speed to medium, and add eggs, buttermilk, water/espresso powder, oil, and vanilla. Beat until smooth, about 3 minutes.

Divide batter between pans (my portions weighed 1 pound 2 ounces). Bake until set and a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean, about 40 – 45 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes. Turn out from pans. Transfer, face-up, to wire racks. Let cool completely. Wrap and freeze layers if desired.

 

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Dark Chocolate Mascarpone Frosting – adapted from Not So Humble Pie
*frosts a 8-inch two or three layer cake 

  • 1 pound semisweet chocolate, finelly chopped
  • 6 tablespoons dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 6 tablespoons boiling water
  • 3 sticks (1 1/2 cups or 339g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup mascarpone cheese (or in a pinch, cream cheese)
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • pinch salt

Directions –

Combine the boiling water and dutch processed cocoa. Mix well to remove any lumps and then set aside to cool.

Melt the chocolate over a double-boiler and then set aside to cool. Allow the melted chocolate to come to room temperature before using (otherwise it will melt your butter and that’s bad), this should take 25-30 minutes.

Once the chocolate is cool, beat the butter and powdered sugar in your stand mixer with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy (roughly 4 minutes).  While it is mixing, combine the mascarpone cheese with the cocoa powder slurry.

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Once the butter is light and fluffy, add the cooled melted chocolate to the butter and beat until uniform, scraping down the sides as needed.  Then add the mascarpone cocoa mixer and beat until well combined.  The frosting should be ready to use, however if it seems too soft you can place it in the refrigerator for 10 minutes and it will firm up.

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Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake

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Yeah – definitely not something you would want to make more than once a year! The crust starts out with 24 Oreo cookies and a half stick of butter  – not to mention the roasted peanuts!  There are also 16 Reese’s cups in and on this cake, 2 pounds of cream cheese, 1 cup of peanut butter…Thankfully, there will be at least 10 people who might be willing to try this. I don’t know many people who would turn down a Reese’s 😉

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Verdict: It’s a little too sweet for my taste, but no one else complained 😉 We have half a cake left, but I have several people in mind to share this with 😉 Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Ruggles Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake – adapted from Food.com **Plan ahead–cheesecake needs to chill for at least 4 hours**

For the Crust:

  • 4 1/2 cups crushed Oreo cookies
  • 1 cup chopped roasted peanuts
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted

For the Filling:

  • 2 lbs cream cheese, softened
  • 5 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup smooth peanut butter ( not natural-style)
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 12 Reese’s Peanut Butter cups, broken into small pieces

For the Topping:

  • 1/2 cup Reese’s Peanut Butter chips
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4-1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 4 Reese’s Cups, chopped

Directions –  

To Make The Crust: Combine crushed Oreo cookies and peanuts that have been ground in a food processor with the melted butter. Pat the crust mixture onto bottom and sides of a 10-inch springform pan.

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To Make The Filling: Beat cream cheese in bowl of electric mixer until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add sugar, peanut butter and cream; mix until smooth. Stir in vanilla, then fold in peanut butter cup pieces with a rubber spatula.

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Pour filling into prepared crust. Place springform pan into a larger baking pan. Pour hot water into the larger pan so that the water comes 1 inch up the sides of the springform pan.

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Bake at 275°F 1-1/2 hours, or until firm and lightly browned. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for one hour. You may run a knife along the edge of the cake to loosen it from the pan somewhat. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

For the Topping: Pour the cream into a microwave safe cup for about 45 seconds. Pour the hot cream over the peanut butter and chocolate chips and don’t stir for about three minutes. Stir with a whisk until smooth and shiny to break up any pieces and emulsify cream and chocolate. Add more hot cream to thin out the ganache if needed. Add chopped Reese’s to the cheesecake and then drizzle the ganache over all.

Thanksgiving Day Recipe Round-Up

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Fall is my absolute favorite season because of the cooler weather, but mostly it’s because of the food! Thanksgiving dinner is hands-down the most time-consuming meal I make all year; but I love it! It’s a little depressing when I think of all the planning, shopping, prep-work, cooking, baking – not to mention the dish washing involved; and everyone is finished eating in about 20 minutes. Thankfully, there are the leftovers which can be the best part of the ordeal 🙂 I decided to round-up some of our favorites to help those of you who need inspiration and ideas.

A couple of tips for you novices out there – don’t be intimidated! 🙂 Plan at least a week in advance, especially if you plan on brining your turkey – I highly recommend it! You will never have a more moist, perfectly seasoned bird than when you’ve taken the time to brine. It’s not difficult, but you will need some extra space in your refrigerator and if you don’t have a huge, lidded container you can use heavy-duty brining bags, (I have used these). Also, invest in a digital probe thermometer, because who wants to go through all that trouble only to end up with overcooked (or under-cooked) turkey? Thanks for reading!

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Breakfast

*Update* Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Pumpkin Bread

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls

Pumpkin Waffles

Baked Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal

Cinnamon Pull-Apart Bread

Cinnamon Sugar Donut Muffins

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Appetizer/Sides

Spinach Artichoke Dip

Vanilla Almonds

Brioche and Sausage Dressing

Loaded Potato Soup

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Perfect Au Gratin Potatoes

Garlic Green Beans

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Breads

Honey Yeast Rolls

Basic Buttery Brioche

Homemade Crescent Rolls

Dinner Rolls

Parker House Rolls

Golden Pull-Apart Butter Buns

Honey Cornbread Muffins

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Mains

Brined Herb-Crusted Turkey

Honey Ham 

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Desserts

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Brown Sugar Apple Cheesecake

Deep Dish Apple Crumble Pie

Apple Crisp I

Apple Crisp II

Vegan Apple Crisp

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For the Leftovers

*Update* Chicken (or Turkey) Pot Pie with Cheddar Biscuit Crust

Turkey, Bacon and Avocado Sandwiches

Navy Bean and Ham Soup

Ham and Potato Soup

The Best Hot Fudge Sauce

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I have posted a hot fudge sauce before, but this once blows that one out of the water! It’s creamy, velvety and so rich and it makes just over two cups of sauce per batch. It will be perfect for gift giving this season, along with my very favorite salted caramel sauce. Thanks for reading, enjoy! 🙂

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*swoon* The perfect complement to vanilla ice cream and our favorite triple chocolate cookie cake 🙂

Homemade Hot Fudge Sauce – adapted from Baked by Rachel via My Baking Addiction

  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 oz quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

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Directions – 

1. In a medium, heavy saucepan over medium heat, combine cream, corn syrup, brown sugar, cocoa, salt, and half of the chocolate. Bring the mixture to a boil. stirring until the chocolate pieces are completely melted.

2. Reduce heat and cook at a low boil, stirring occasionally, for about five minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and add in butter, vanilla, and remaining chocolate and stirring until smooth. Allow the sauce to cool down before serving. Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Vanilla Almonds

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(Happy New Year! I meant to post this a couple of weeks ago…but I was visiting family)

I was inspired to make these after watching one of my favorite cooking shows. I knew I would need some quick teacher gifts for the kids (I hope they like almonds!), and some snacks for the party we’re hosting today. I tried a few and I am happy to report that they are really tasty! Our friends loved them and I even had some recipe requests for them 🙂 Thanks for reading, enjoy.

Vanilla Almonds – adapted from Kelsey’s Essentials

  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 4 cups whole almonds
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Beat the egg white with the vanilla extract, add the almonds and stir to coat. Combine the sugar, salt, and cinnamon and combine with mixture. Place in a single layer on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 300 degrees F for 20 minutes. Remove and cool on wax paper and break into clusters.

Chocolate Mint Brownies

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These were amazing and everyone loved them! 🙂

Chocolate Mint Brownie Bites – adapted from The Pioneer Woman

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
50 whole mints, such as Andes
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 whole eggs
3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon mint extract
1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Spray a mini muffin pan generously with baking spray.

Melt the unsweetened chocolate in a bowl in the microwave. Remove from the microwave and stir in 8 mints until all melted. Let cool slightly.

In a mixer with the paddle attachment, cream 1 stick of the butter with the sugar. Beat in the eggs one at a time. With the mixer on low, drizzle in the cooled chocolate mixture slowly, mixing until it’s combined. Add the flour and mix thoroughly. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, add the mint extract and then mix again.

Using a tablespoon or cookie scoop, scoop the batter into the prepared mini muffin pan. Bake until done, 11 to 13 minutes. Turn upside down out of the pan and allow to cool.

Combine 25 to 30 mints in a bowl with the remaining 1 tablespoon butter and the chopped bittersweet chocolate. Microwave and stir until melted and smooth.

Dip the brownie bites in the chocolate, concentrating on the top “cone” part. Allow to set for a few minutes. Chop the remaining mints and sprinkle them on the top. Set in the freezer for 10 minutes if you need them to set right away. Yum!

I Can Hardly Wait!


After two years of making this huge spread for TG, I have learned (the hard way) what to do in advance to make this as stress free as possible. Today I started the brine for our turkey! It’s a simple step that really makes all the difference in your finished bird. I never craved turkey until I made this recipe, but this always comes out juicy and flavorful. Every year I have made it, I have used the 10 gallon Ziploc bag, and my 12 quart stock pot to contain the beast! It’s a nerve-racking workout to place this safely and cleanly into the fridge 🙂

Over the weekend, I prepared my brioche dough for the brioche and sausage dressing and the herb butter is sitting pretty in the freezer ( I used a stick and a half of butter instead of three). Tomorrow my plan is to bake off the brioche and roast several bulbs of garlic. Wednesday I will prepare the dressing, make the dinner rolls and take the turkey out of the brine. Thanksgiving day, I will prepare this ham in the crock pot, roast the turkey, make the roasted garlic mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, and bake off the dressing. It’s lists like this that makes me wish for two ovens!  Thanks for reading and Happy Thanksgiving!