Boozy Spiced Dark Chocolate Cake

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I really don’t drink much alcohol.

There are a few drinks that I like (my latest obsession being Malibu Coconut Rum, pinapple juice and a slash of club soda, Hawaii in a glass!) but usually I can (and do) say no. Beer tastes like horse piss gross to me and I’m not big on shots of straight liquor (Tequila being the exception). I’ll be the one nursing the same drink in my hands for the entire night.

As I said, not a big drinker.

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But dang, do I LOVE baking with it!!! It’s Christmas and to me that means that I get to find ways to put Bourbon, Rum, Kahlua and Bailey’s in EVERYTHING!! Ok, maybe not everything (I’m very obviously being dramatic) but I do take a minute to wonder how I could sneak booze into every recipe.

Please tell me I’m not alone…

I blame this time of year.

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Boozy Spiced Dark Chocolate Cake
adapted from food and wine via How Sweet Eats
makes one 12-cup bundt cake

Ingredients:

4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dark cocoa powder
1 tablespoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
pinch of cayenne pepper (trust me)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 large egg
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup Kahlua (or any coffee liqueur)
1 cup buttermilk

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 12-cup bundt pan with non-stick spray and set aside.

Melt chopped chocolate in a large microwave-safe bowl in 30 second increments (I usually go for 3 intervals) stirring between each interval until melted and smooth; set aside to cool a bit while you prep your dry ingredients.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder (sifting it in if your cocoa is lumpy), baking soda, salt and spices and mix with a wire whisk until combined.

Once the melted chocolate has cooled a bit, whisk in oil, bth sugars, vanilla and heavy cream until smooth, then whisk in egg.

In a 2 cup measuring cup (or anything larger, but not smaller) combine water, Kahlua and buttermilk and give it a quick stir just to combine.

Add half of the flour/cocoa mixture to the melted chocolate mixture, alternating with half of the buttermilk mixture, mixing until just combined (so it’s: flour, buttermilk, flour, buttermilk).

Pour batter into your prepared bundt pan and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until inserted toothpick comes out almost clean.

Let cool, then dust with a light coating of powdered sugar or drizzle with glaze of your choice. Enjoy : )

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Pumpkin Pie Spice

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I never have pumpkin pie spice when I need it. Do you?

Fret no more. You can make it at home!!

As far as I can tell, everyone’s perception of what pumpkin pie spice should be is different. This one works for me and caters to my taste. If you like a little more clove, go for it. Cinnamon-a-holic? Have at it. Ginger lover… go to town. I would suggest not going overboard with the alterations but do make it your own.

This is a guideline.

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Pumpkin Pie Spice

Note: This recipe makes about 2 tablespoons, I quadruple it so that I have plenty on hand and I’m not making a new batch every time I need a bit of spice. Do what works for you!

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
big pinch of cardamom

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Instructions:

In a small bowl, whisk all spices together, working out any lumps that might occur. Store in an old spice jar. Be sure to label it πŸ™‚

As you can see, I made my own nifty label: I scribbled on a torn off piece of notebook paper and taped it to my old cinnamon spice jar. Ta-da!!! Instant class.

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Candy Corn Sugar Cookies

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Happy Halloween!!

I probably should have posted this recipe much sooner but if you’re a long time reader, you know how I roll. I procrastinate. And I’m sorry.

But who says the fun has to stop just because Halloween is over? You KNOW you’re going to have left over candy!! And I am going to give you a few ideas in the coming week to use up that candy. IF there is any candy left over by then πŸ˜‰

But for now, let’s talk cookies. These are your run of the mill sugar cookies divided into three batches and colored, stacked, sliced and baked. Simple stuff here folks, but BIG reward. If you want to take it a step further (I’m a minimalist; read: lazy), you can dip the tops in melted chocolate and decorate with sprinkles.

These cookies are your oyster. Ew. Let’s pretend I didn’t say that…..

It may seem that because there are a fair amount of steps that these are difficult cookies to make: they aren’t!! They involve a bit of chill time and some hands on time but nothing you can’t handle.

If you can handle me using oysters and cookies in the same sentence, you can make these πŸ˜‰

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Candy Corn Sugar Cookies
recipe adapted from Our Best Bites and Williams Sonoma

Ingredients:

2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
3 egg yolks
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
yellow and orange gel food coloring

Directions:Β 

Note: if you need some process pictures to help you along, head on over to Our Best Bites.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat together the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well.

In a sifter, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Sift the flour mixture directly onto the butter mixture. Reduce the speed to low and beat until well mixed.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface and divide into 3 equal portions (I weighed my dough then divided into three, each portion weighed 428 grams).

You’ll leave one of those portions as is (this will be the white part of the candy corn) and then you’ll color one of the remaining portions yellow and one orange.

Tip: When you’re coloring multiple things in a recipe, use one mixing bowl and color starting from lightest to darkest. That way you won’t have to wash your bowl in between.

Grab a loaf pan (it doesn’t matter what size) but if you have an option between a larger and a smaller pan, you might want the smaller one (I used an 8″ x 4.5″). Line your loaf pan with a big piece of plastic wrap leaving an inch overhang on all sides.

The first thing you’ll do is place your uncolored cookie dough in the bottom of the pan and spread it out as flat as you can.

You’re going to have 3 layers of cookie dough and the height of your dough will determine the size of your cookies. In my case, I made a small batch of cookie dough, and if I spread it out all the way in my large loaf pan each layer would be so thin that it would produce teeny tiny cookies so I didn’t spread my dough to the very end. Shoot for about 3/4 inch per layer at least. You can always make larger cookies if desired.

Place 1/3 of cookie dough in your mixing bowl, add a bit of yellow food coloring and mix until you reach your desired color (adding more food coloring as necessary); set aside. Do the same thing with the remaining dough coloring it orange. Place the orange dough on top of the uncolored dough and flatten out. Do the same with the yellow dough. Use the plastic wrap to even out the dough and cover it.

Place the pan in the refrigerator for a few hours, or the freezer for about 30-60 minutes. You’ll want this very chilled, all the way through so it cuts nice and smooth.

When it’s done chilling, unwrap and slice that loaf into about 1/4-inch slices, working a few at at time.

Now just slice your rectangles into triangle pieces.

Position a rack in the upper third of an oven and preheat to 350Β°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place your cookie triangles on your baking sheet. Since these are slice and bake cookies, they won’t spread very much at all therefore you don’t need to leave a lot of space between cookies (about 1/2 inch).

Bake until the cookies are lightly golden on the edges, about 8 minutes. Transfer the cookies to wire racks and let cool completely. Enjoy : )

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Oh, Labor Day

Today is a holiday.

Did you know? I’m sure you did. I almost missed it until all the TV commercials reminded me that I need to spend my hard earned money in everysinglestore because it’s Labor Day and apparently that’s what it means. To spend money.

To me, it means relaxation. It means BBQ. It means family. It means sitting on your lazy butt and enjoying your national Monday off.

But just in case you’re like me and you can’t fully enjoy your Labor Day without sweets to snack on, here are a few of my favorite things:

S’mores Brownie Bars. Just put it in your face.

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Buttercrunch Toffee. Super easy to make, even easier to scarf.

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Cheesecake Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars. OMWOW.

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If you like brownies, try these, these or these. Or these. (Or these.)

One Pan Chocolate Cake. It’s mixed in one cake pan. Just one.

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Want some cookies? Try these hot chocolate cookies, my favorite chocolate chip cookies, or one giant skillet cookie. It’s a cookie, in a skillet. Awesome.

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Pancakes for breakfast (or dinner?) try these, they taste like cinnamon buns!! Or these, they taste like red velvet cake!!

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Don’t see anything here that strikes your fancy, just have a look around, I’m sure you’ll find something πŸ™‚

Have a relaxing Labor Day!!

Bourbon Vanilla Ice Cream with Salted Bourbon-Caramel Sauce for Sundae Sunday!!

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Did you ever have ice cream socials in school? I did. I was lucky, I had them in elementary school and my last one was in high school. To the teachers, it was a comfortable social setting for all the kids to get to know one another. For me, it was an excuse to have copious amounts of ice cream with sprinkles while hanging out with my friends and ditching class with permission πŸ˜‰ I was a good kid.

Now I am…. a bit older, and I am honored to join in on an online ice cream social with some Twitter friends. Any excuse to make ice cream, right? Not only did I get to make and post about ice cream, I get to see the amazing creations of my twitter peeps AND eat the ice cream that I made.

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And with triple digit weather around these parts, my inner peace really needed the calming qualities of ice cream…. and bourbon. I’m still a good kid πŸ˜‰

If you know me at all, you know that I couldn’t just make any ole ice cream, I had to go all out. I scoured my bookmarks and came across this recipe that I had long forgotten about, checked that I had all the ingredients and I was off. And I can’t be happier with how it turned out! The ice cream is creamy and delicious, the sauce compliments it wonderfully, and the toffee adds texture! Win-win-win.

Now if only this ridiculous heat wave would GO AWAY, life would be pretty much perfect πŸ™‚

I am honored to have participated in Sundae Sunday along with some great company. To see the entire line-up of amazing treats from amazing bloggers, head on over to Di’s blog, or click here to be taken directly to the post.

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Bourbon Vanilla Ice Cream
Makes 1 1/2 pints

Ingredients:
1 cup Bourbon (you can probably dial this down to 3/4 cup if you aren’t a huge fan)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (I used a bit of vanilla bean paste as well)
2 cups heavy cream
4 large egg yolks
1 cup whole milk

Directions:
1. Pour the bourbon into a saucepan, and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the sugar and salt. Stir until the sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, and continue to boil until liquid is reduced by one fourth, about 6 minutes. At this point you’ll notice the strong scent of the bourbon. Don’t inhale too deeply, you’ll get drunk. Just kidding.

2. Add vanilla and cream, and heat over medium heat until a candy thermometer reads 150 degrees F, 2 to 3 minutes.

3. In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks, and pour the bourbon cream into the eggs in a thin stream, whisking until the liquids are combined. Return the mixture to the pan, and heat over medium heat, stirring, until the candy thermometer reaches 175 degrees F, 3 to 4 minutes. Add milk. Transfer the ice cream base to a container with a lid, and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight. Don’t expect this to be very thick, it will be quite thin for an ice cream base.

4. Pour the chilled bourbon custard into an ice cream maker, and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer the ice cream to a container with a tight-fitting lid, and cover the surface of the ice cream with plastic wrap. Put the lid on the container, and freeze until the ice cream has hardened, at least 2 hours. (It will keep for up to 1 month.)

Salted Bourbon-Caramel Sauce

Ingredients:
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons light corn syrup (I used Lite)
3/4 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons butter (salted or unsalted, doesn’t matter)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup Bourbon

Directions:
1. In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, water and corn syrup. Bring to a low boil.

2. Gently swirl the mixture in a circular motion (do not stir), and allow it to boil down until it is a deep amber color, at least 10 minutes.

3. Carefully whisk in the cream, protecting your hand from the steam. Immediately whisk in the butter. Stir over low heat until mixture is smooth.

4. Stir in salt and bourbon, and whisk again. Remove from heat and allow to cool before using.

Top a few scoops of ice cream with the caramel, stick in some delicious toffee, grab a spoon and enjoy.

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All recipes adapted from Adapted from here

Independence Day Cake – Red White and Blue Vanilla Cake

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Happy Fourth of July!!

Happy Birthday America!!

How are you celebrating? Fireworks? BBQ? Family fun in the sun? How about with cake?

Not just any cake will do. How about a cake that is a silent stunner? Plain and simple on the outside, but once you cut into it… BAM!! American flag flying high!!

Yes, yes I think this will do nicely. Bold and proud just like America!

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Independence Day Cake

Ingredients:

3 cups sugar
4 3/4 cups + 2 Tablespoons All-Purpose Flour
3 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks + 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, soft (18 TBSP)
1 3/4 cups + 2 Tablespoons milk, at room temperature
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 large eggs

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To Make The Cake:

Preheat the oven to 350Β°F. Lightly grease and flour three 9″ round cake pans. Set Aside.

1) In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt.

2) Add the butter and beat with an electric mixer at low speed, until the mixture looks sandy.

3) In a measuring cup, combine the milk and vanilla and add, all at once to the sandy flour mixture. Mix at low speed for 30 seconds until it looks just combined, then increase the speed to medium and beat for 25 seconds. Scrape the bottom and sides of the mixing bowl.

4) In the measuring cup that you used for the milk/vanilla, add all eggs and gently whisk together. With the mixer running at medium speed, slowly add eggs in three batches mixing until almost incorporated. Scrape the bowl once more, then beat at medium-high speed for 20 more seconds.

5) Separate the cake mix into three medium bowls (or 4-cup measuring cups to be as accurate as possible) and color one bowl red, one blue and leave the last white. Mix the dye thoroughly and transfer the batter to the prepared pans and smooth out the tops. c

6) Bake for 30 minutes until a cake tester comes out with moist crumbs attached and the layers begin to pull away from the edges of the pan.

7) Remove the cake from the oven and place it on a rack to cool before removing it from the pan.

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To Prep The Cake:

Using a serrated knife or cake leveler, slice the red and white layers horizontally in half. You’ll end up with a blue layer (2β€³), two red layers (each 1β€³), and two white layers (each 1β€³). Set one white and one red layer aside, those will be the bottom two stripes of the flag.

You only want a square of blue in each slice, not an entire layer. Stack the blue layer, white layer, and red layer on top of each other. Using a serrated knife, cut a large circle through all three layers. I used a bowl as a guide. Now you have a ring of blue (2β€³), a ring of white (1β€³), a ring of red (1β€³), and three inner circles in each color (the blue is 2β€³ and the other two are both 1β€³). Set aside the inner circle of blue and eat the outer rings of red and white. πŸ˜‰

To Assemble The Cake: (see below for the frosting recipe I used)

Frost the bottom two layers together – set the uncut white layer on a plate and spread with frosting. Top with the uncut red layer. Spread the uncut red layer with frosting, then set the blue ring on top. Use a spatula to spread a very, very thin layer of frosting around the inside edge of the blue ring. This will help keep the blue layer and the two top stripes together.

Frost the white inner circle and place the red inner circle on top of it. Place both frosted inner layers inside the ring of blue. Frost the top and sides with a thin layer of frosting; don’t worry about perfecting it as this is just the crumb coat. Refrigerate for 15-30 minutes to let the crumb coat set and harden. Remove cake from refrigerator and add final coat of frosting to entire cake.

In a small bowl, crumble the blue inner circle of cake you set aside earlier and sprinkle it on top of the cake. Slice and serve and watch the oohs and aahs roll in.

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Vanilla Buttercream:

Ingredients:
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 lb confectioners sugar
1/2 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 to 2 tablespoons milk

Directions:
In a large bowl, using a mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Add the confectioners’ sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating until smooth after each addition. Add the vanilla and 1 tablespoon milk. Beat at high speed until fluffy, adding an additional 1 tablespoon milk if necessary.

Happy National Fudge Day – Cookie and Cream Fudge!!

I am not a big fudge fan. I think it’s the texture because it most certainly isn’t the amazing array of flavors it can come in. It’s sturdier than a cheesecake, creamier than a brownie, much more dense than a cake. Maybe that bothers me. I’m grasping at straws here.

But just because I don’t like fudge doesn’t mean that YOU don’t. So I’m not going to be selfish and withhold the ONLY fudge recipe that I have made and LOVED. Because that would just be rude. I mean imagine if I alone held the key to turning the world’s biggest fudge hater into a fudge LOVER?! I couldn’t live with it if I kept this to myself.

I made this for Christmas this past year and used candy cane oreos but I imagine that they work just as well with regular Oreos, Halloween Oreos, Eater Oreos, Mint Oreos, Golden Oreos or even Peanut Butter Oreos. Go wild!!

Happy National Fudge Day everyone!!

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Click here for the recipe!!