Chocolate Velvet Pound Cake

Chocolate Velvet Pound Cake

Have you ever had one of those days when you just NEED some chocolate to cure whatever ails you? Who am I kidding, of course you have. Or maybe I’m just projecting my issues on you…? Either way chocolate = answer to all questions.

After committing to a healthier lifestyle, chocolate is the one tiny thing that keeps me from being 100% committed. There is just something about it. It’s rich, melty amazingness just draws me in every.single.time. When I see a new, intriguing flavor of chocolate (Wasabi Dark Chocolate, anyone?) I just can’t help myself. I’m very serious about my chocolate! I get angry when it goes to waste (not all recipes work out, whomp) or when it doesn’t match my high hopes or when things just aren’t… chocolatey enough. I’m sure you understand, right?

Chocolate Velvet Pound Cake

So upon seeing this recipe for chocolate velvet pound cake, I was a bit bummed to find that there aren’t mounds of melted chocolate in it. I was so sure that the chocolate flavor would be too muted for me to fully enjoy it. I’m also not a huge fan of pound cakes, so sadly the cards were mentally stacked against this one before I even got started. But I pressed on, thinking that I could just give it away to someone less picky crazy than me.

Thaaaaaaaaank goodness I pressed on with this. This pound cake was delightful!! That’ll teach me not to judge a book by it’s cover. Probably not. But it sounds good ;)This pound cake came together fairly quickly (it’s definitely no layer cake!) and the end result was smooth, velvetey, rich chocolatey deliciousness. But I couldn’t leave well enough alone and drizzled a bit of chocolate ganache on my slice (it didn’t need it, I just have issues.) If you’re a chocolate connoisseur like myself, do yourself a favor and try this.

Chocolate Velvet Pound Cake Chocolate Velvet Pound Cake

Chocolate Velvet Pound Cake
Yields about 6 cups of batter (enough for one 6-cup bundt pan or one 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ loaf pan)

Ingredients:

1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups (8-3/4 ounces) sugar
1 teaspoon water, at room temperature
2 teaspoons espresso powder
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup (5 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (2 ounces) unsifted unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup (4 ounces) buttermilk, at room temperature*

* I used buttermilk powder and it still turned out great! My powder requires that you use water as a liquid in place of the buttermilk and add the powder with the dry ingredients. If you decide to go this route, please follow the directions on the container of your powdered buttermilk.

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350°F and position an oven rack in the center. Lightly spray your bundt pan with non-stick cooking spray. If using a loaf pan, spray with non-stick cooking spray and fit it with parchment paper to extend up both long sides to the top of the pan (leaving an overhang for easy removal once cool). If your pans have a nasty habit of sticking, butter the pan and then lightly dust the pan with cocoa powder.

Cream the butter and sugar: Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of the stand mixer and beat on medium-high until light – almost white- in color, 4 to 5 minutes. You can also use a hand mixer and a medium bowl, although you may need to beat the mixture a little longer to achieve the same results. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with the spatula.

Add the eggs: In the small bowl, stir together the water and espresso powder until smooth. Crack the eggs into the bowl and whisk to blend. With the mixer running on medium, add the eggs to the butter mixture about 1 tablespoon at a time (I’m impatient so I eyeballed and probably ended up going a few tablespoons at a time), allowing each addition to completely blend in before adding the next. About halfway through, turn off the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl, then continue adding the eggs. Scrape down the bowl again.

Add the dry and wet ingredients alternately: With the fine-mesh strainer, sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt into the medium bowl and whisk to blend. With the mixer running on the lowest speed, add the flour mixture and the buttermilk alternately, beginning with one-third of the flour mixture and half of the buttermilk; repeat, then finish with flour mixture. Scrape down the bowl and finish blending the batter by hand if necessary. (I normally give the batter a few quick turns with a silicone spatula before calling it done.)

Bake the cake: Scrape the batter into the prepared baking pan and smooth the top. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a rack to cool completely. When cool, remove from the pan, peel off the parchment paper, and serve.

Storing: The cake can be made several days ahead and kept at room temperature, wrapped in plastic wrap. Or double-wrap it, put in a resealable plastic freezer bag, and freeze for up to 8 weeks.

Barely adapted from Sur La Table’s The Art & Soul of Baking

Chocolate Velvet Pound Cake

Flourless Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

Flourless Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

When I have a favorite anything, I kind of dig my heels into it. New fave shoes? I wear them every day. New fave outfit? I wear it every day. Ok, not every day but I have been known to rock the same outfit twice in a row. (If you’re going to two different places with different people, it’s technically a new outfit. Senseless logic brought to you by me.) Fave nail polish? OMG I CAN’T STOP WEARING MINT GREEN AND CORAL!! Ahem, you get the point. I mean, why would anyone want to mess with elusive perfection once it’s found?! So when I find a cookie recipe that actually works in my finicky oven, I kind of can’t stop making it. And then I make them all the time… for everything.

Then the inevitable happens: I get into a rut and yell on my blog and whiiiiine because if I change anything about said perfection, it won’t be perfect anymore. What I sometimes fail to realize, is that change can help it become something even BETTER!! Say it with me people, change is good!!

Especially when it involves cookies. And chocolate. And peanut butter. And chocolate peanut butter. Baby steps…

So embrace the change with me, people! Let’s make a tiny adjustment to a cookie recipe and yell on the internet about how awesome it is (whining optional).

For these cookies, I took my go-to peanut butter cookie recipe and simply changed the peanut butter to one of my all time PB obsessions: Dark Chocolate Dreams. And the end result is simply amazing. I can’t wait to try this with the White Chocolate Wonderful!! And almond butter.

Flourless Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

*Note: Since the peanut butter I used is all natural, the texture was a bit different from the original cookies. They are a tad less chewy and a tiny bit more crumbly. But still completely delicious!

Flourless Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup Dark Chocolate Dreams peanut butter (or your favorite chocolate nut butter)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg (lightly beaten)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup dark chocolate chips (or chunks! or nuts! or…)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350° , with a rack positioned in the middle of your oven (I don’t have the capacity to have two sheets going at once, I forget to flip/switch them.). Line a jelly roll pan or your standard cookie sheet with a silicone mat, foil or parchment paper; set aside.

In a large bowl with a wooden spoon, stir together peanut butter, sugar, egg, baking soda, and salt until well combined. Stir in chocolate chips.

With a cookie scoop (mine is 1 1/2 TBSP in size) scoop, level and plop equal portioned dough balls onto your prepared cookie sheet. Alternatively: with moistened hands, roll dough, about 1 heaping tablespoon at a time, into balls. Place 2 inches apart on baking sheet. (These are not huge spreaders! So if you want a slightly thinner cookie, gently press down on the top of the cookie to flatten it a bit.)

Bake until cookies are golden and puffed, 12 to 14 minutes. Cool 5 minutes on sheets; transfer cookies to racks to cool completely. Promise me that you’ll have one warm from the oven?

Flourless Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

(Not So) Manic Monday

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As I have previously mentioned, life is hectic. This isn’t news to you as I’m sure your life is probably more hectic than mine (I probably just whine about it more than you do!) When life gets hectic, I list. I’m a lister. Seriously, if I don’t have two different sizes of notepads and three different sizes of post-it notes within arms reach, I could spontaneously combust. I’m not joking. I was once interviewed for a job and my way of reassuring them that I could handle anything was to say “…as long as I have a limitless supply of sticky notes, I’ll figure out the rest.” Truth.

In the spirit of my NEED to make lists and to-do’s and scribble crap on any piece of paper within my grasp, I decided that I’ll start a little series on Mondays dedicated to my listing addiction. I haven’t figured it all out yet, but I’m thinking anywhere from my fave finds in the internet world, to lists I make in life, to doodles I draw on a foggy mirror. This will be an adventure and a journey to break up the monotony of strictly food blogging.

Who knows, this might turn into something inherently swell.

Sugar Cookie Bars

Sugar Cookie Bars

Keep it simple, stupid.

No, I’m not insulting you (obvi!) It’s a little mantra that I try to live by. Life has a habit of getting so complex and difficult and just when you think you can’t take anymore, life throws you an additional curveball. At that point, you have two choices: break down and get nothing done or simplify and start tackling things one by one.

Perfect example: my life. I have a full-time job, a husband, pets, friends and family who (rightfully!) demand my time. I try to hit the gym 4 times a week. I’m starting up the blog again, thinking about taking some online college courses and seriously debating taking guitar lessons. Toss in some curveballs and my plate is damn near full. Some days I sit back and wonder how I’m not a hot mess. But then I remember, I try my hardest to keep things simple. Late night at the gym: dinner is gonna be simple, yo! Blog post to write: get up early and knock that bad boy out. Need to take pics of the brownies I made last night: grab my camera and run outside to snap a quick few before hitting the gym. Feeling run down: rent a Redbox flick and cuddle on the couch with my hubby. If something doesn’t get done: don’t freak, I’ll likely have time tomorrow and if it isn’t super important, it’s ok if it gets pushed off until I DO have time. Life is hard enough, don’t be the main culprit of making it harder.

Yet another perfect example (man, is my timing awesome or what?!) These bar cookies. You want sugar cookies but don’t want to cream and refrigerate and scoop a bagillion tiny balls and bake ninety million batches and then eateversinglecookieallbyyourself. Whip these up. Seriously. It’s all the goodness of a sugar cookie, simplified. Cream everything together, press into a pan, bake, cut, done. You don’t HAVE to frost them. You can sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar or go Plain Jane, I’m ok with that. Don’t wanna wait for them to cool completely (believe me, I understand) fine, don’t! Who doesn’t love warm cookies anyway?! Whatever makes YOUR life easier.

These burned up the blogs some time ago and I never gave them a whirl until I needed something sweet in its simplicity. They are chewy, buttery, sugary goodness. And there’s sprinkles. No wrong done there.

Sugar Cookie Bars

Sugar Cookie Bars
yields 16 small bars, 9 large, 1 HUGE (if you’re having THAT kind of a day.)

Ingredients:

For the cookies:
3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
2/3 cup (10 2/3 Tablespoons) butter, softened
1 Tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups (6.37oz) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

For the frosting:
4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or almond, your choice)
3 to 4 Tablespoons milk

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375F. Line a 15x10x1-inch jelly roll pan with foil taking care to leave an overhang on two sides. Spray with non-stick baking spray or butter; set aside.*

*Note: I used a 9×13-inch pan, adding 2 minutes to the baking time and it worked out perfectly. You don’t have to use the pan size specified, use what you have on hand and adjust the baking time accordingly. Let’s just say there’s nothing wrong with a thicker cookie ;)

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of your stand mixer (or in a large bowl with a hand mixer) combine sugar, butter, milk, vanilla, and egg. Beat at medium speed until creamy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the flour mixture and mix on low until just combined (or until the flour is almost completely mixed in).

Spread mixture as evenly as you can into your prepared pan with a rubber/silicon spatula. Bake for 10-12 minutes (don’t forget to adjust your baking time if you use a different size pan!) or until set. Place the pan on a wire rack and cool completely.

To make the frosting: Combine powdered sugar, 1/2 cup butter, and extract in a large bowl and beat at medium speed until creamy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add milk, one tablespoon at a time, mixing on med-high speed for about 30 seconds, scraping down the sides as needed. Once you’ve reached the desired consistency, stop adding milk. BE VERY CAREFUL with the milk, only adding a little at a time! Remember: you can always add more, but you can’t take any away! We don’t want vanilla soup, do we? At this point, you can thoroughly mix in some gel food coloring of your choice to the frosting (of course I went with pink, I’m so predictable!)

Assemble the bars: Using the foil overhang, carefully lift the bars out of your pan. Spread the frosting over cooled bars with an offset spatula and decorate with sprinkles (if you’re fancy. Clearly I’m fancy.) Cut into squares and dig in!

Sugar Cookie Bars

Recipe from Land O’ Lakes via With Sprinkles on Top

Sophomore Slump or Comeback of the Year…?

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Yes, yes I am quite obsessed with Fall Out Boy (before it was cool, I might add) and yeeeeeeesss I am super stoked about their comeback and will be front and center in the pit when they come to town.

However, this post isn’t about Fall Out Boy (mental note to write one soon) or concerts or music.

It’s about me. I’m coming back. I’ve given it a lot of thought and I’m ready to rejoin the masses in my small corner of the internet. So, hello once again dear friends.

I’ve revamped my ‘About Me‘ profile (which I feel is ever changing since I have a bagillion things going on in my brain at once and I can’t find a way to express them all in an orderly fashion. Le sigh.) Check it out and let’s regroup.

*hug*

Foodie Pen Pals – MAY

The Lean Green Bean

It’s reveal day!!!

As you all may remember, I joined foodie pen pals for the first time last month. I had an amazing first month so why the heck not do it again?

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This time my foodie pen pal was from Washington! Aly from Fudging Ahead did a great great great job getting me a delicious mix of goodies!!

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Just as last time, I tore into it almost instantly with a child-like sense of adventure. I smelled a certain something and I had a feeling I already knew what it was!

COFFEE!! from Seattle. Duh, cus they’re know doe that stuff, ya know! I’m not a huge fan of drip coffee. I don’t even have a coffee grinder!! (I’m a Starbucks gal. I’m a bit ashamed.) But dang this stuff smelled SO good. I wrapped it up and I am storing it in the freezer until I can mentally part with it. I’m thinking of splitting the coffee between my mother and mother in law. They both adore coffee and I think they’d love some good stuff straight from Seattle!

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Caramel Corn!! This stuff lasted longer than I thought it would. I was doing my absolute BEST to not eat it all in one sitting. Cus you all know that’s the kinda gal I am! And I LOVE caramel corn, like whoa! This stuff is made in Seattle and apparently this time of year, the farmers markets run rampant with it. I need to come ’round those parts just for this stuff. Amahzing!

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Raspberry fruit strip! Raspberries are my fave fruit!! This is a super neat way to get my fruit in ;)

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Chocolate!!! I love me some chocolate. Duh. The neat thing about this is that it’s bean to bar right here in America. There aren’t very many chocolate companies that do that! I have this bar stashed in my desk at work for chocolate emergencies. I’m trying to make it last. Dark chocolate and sea salt? ohmahgah!!

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Chocolate hazelnut? I swear, Aly knows me.

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BROWNIES!! Aly said that after persusing my blog a bit, she kinda sorta got the idea that I might like brownies just a tiny bit ;) Well, she was absolutely right!! And these were amazing. I’m normally not a fan of fudgy brownies but DANG these were so so so good!!! Bonus: she gave me the recipe! I’ll be making these here pretty soon!!

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And lastly, a super sweet note. Honestly, out of all the things in the package, the note is always my favorite. I love seeing the handwriting, so different from mine. Reading the kind words and imagining what she would sound like reading it to me. Learning new things about the place she’s from and that it’s hot there too ;)

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Thank you SO much Aly, it really was a perfect package. I sincerely hope we keep in touch. Nothing like meeting new amazing people!!

If you’re like me and you’re curious to see what I sent my foodie pen pal, head on over to Andie’s blog Sea Salt ‘n’ Pepa. She is super sweet and all too kind!! We can def be friends ;)

Chocolate-Blackberry Ice Cream

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I think I’m finally becoming a true Texan.

Not to say that I haven’t been an ACTUAL Texan these years, but let me tell you… I HATED Summer. Loathed it, even. I yearned for that week of Winter. For years I’ve loved Winter more than any other season. Now I find myself looking forward to the warmer weather.

Ok. Maybe it’s not the actual warm weather I’m looking forward to, but instead everything that warm weather brings with it.

Summer fruit, hello! Shorts. Beautiful flowers. Bright, sunny days. Laying poolside with a margarita in hand. Campfires and s’mores. Weekends at the river. And most importantly… ice cream.

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Any and all ice cream. It’s a must down South, it’s kinda hot. Take it from a girl that could get perfectly ripened peaches a month ago. Maybe I should make some peach ice cream next!

But for now, I’m sharing a strange pairing with you: blackberries and chocolate. It works. Use amazing chocolate and ripe blackberries, and a splash or two of heavy cream and never look back.

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Chocolate-Blackberry Ice Cream
Yields about 3 cups of ice cream

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups heavy cream
5 Tablespoons (40 g) unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
2/3 cup (130 g) sugar
2 cups (240 g) blackberries, fresh*
small pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Tablespoons dark rum, optional

* I used fresh blackberries but frozen berries should work just fine. I would suggest to let the berries sit in it’s bath a bit longer.

Instructions:

Measure the heavy cream, cocoa powder, sugar and salt into a medium saucepan and whisk to combine (to make things easier I set my saucepan on my scale and measured all ingredients in it to save dirty dishes).

Set the pan over medium heat and, whisking frequently, bring the mixture to a full, rolling boil. My mixture was pretty thick to start out with, but this is OK, it will thin out once it heats. Turn off the heat under the pan, add the vanilla extract and dark rum and give it a good whisk. Then add the blackberries. Cover the pan and set aside for 10 minutes.

Puree the mixture in a blender, immersion blender or a food processor, making sure that there are no large clumps of blackberries left. Strain mixture into a medium bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled (overnight is good). The mixture will be thick – almost like pudding – once chilled.

Freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to airtight container and store in your freezer. Top with whipped cream, a healthy dose of unhealthy toppings and dive right into Summer!

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Adapted from The Perfect Scoop via Tracey’s Culinary Adventures