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

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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

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

Banana Oatmeal Breakfast Bars

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I hate doing the same things over and over again.

Repeating myself because you didn’t listen to me the first time I said that awesome thing I said. Getting up after just having sat down because I forgot my water on the counter. Painting my nails AGAIN because I always seem to paint them when I am the most antsy I could ever possibly be. Laundry. Hearing the same commercial on three different radio stations, play some tunes man!

But, there are exceptions.

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Playing my song obsession of the moment twice in a row. Or three times, who’s counting? Finding an adorable outfit and wearing it twice in the same week. Rewinding a part in a movie that made you laugh so hard you almost peed just so you can almost pee again! Playing that level of Angry Birds until you get all three stars.

And most importantly, making a recipe that you just LOVE over and over again. And in my kitchen, that’s a pretty big deal. Recipes rarely get a repeat performance. So many recipes, so little time.

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But once in a while I make something delicious that I can’t stop thinking about. Like these bars.

Soft and chewy oatmeal bars with a great hit of banana flavor, speckled with chocolate chips, baked and served warm. Don’t let the oatmeal fool you, these are breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert, if you ask me! Customize them to your liking: add peanut butter cups/chips, toss in some nuts, top with ice cream, whatever you like!

Make these and eat them. Then make them again. Then eat them again. Again. What a lovely vicious cycle.

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Banana Oatmeal Breakfast Bars
Yield about 12-16 servings

Ingredients:

1 very ripe banana (mine was 115 g)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup all purpose flour (or whole wheat pastry flour)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups rolled oats (not instant)
2/3 cup dark chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8×8″ glass baking dish with foil and lightly spray with non-stick cooking spray; set aside.

In a large bowl, mash the banana with a fork and then add the oil and brown sugar. With a whisk, mix well until there are no sugar lumps left.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and oats until combined. Fold dry ingredients into wet ingredients with a rubber spatula until combined. Fold in chocolate chips until evenly distributed.

Pat batter down evenly into the prepared pan with the rubber spatula. Bake for 25 minutes, or until edges are golden and the center looks set. Let cool before cutting into squares. Or throw caution to the wind and eat them warm straight from the pan. Enjoy!

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Recipe adapted from Eat, Live Run

Crazytown Peanut Butter Banana Bread

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Let me clarify a point: when I say ‘crazytown’ I mean ‘holy cow, there is so much good stuff in this bread and my impatience doesn’t allow me to list it all.’ I DO NOT mean Crazytown the band that sang that maddeningly catchy song ‘Butterfly’ way back in the day.

But I won’t lie, I liked them. I thought Shifty was cute (for like a week HA!) I know every word to the entire song.

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I used to have problems. Don’t verify that with my hubby, he’ll tell you I still have problems. He calls it issues, I call it awesome!!

There is a whole lot of awesome going on in this bread: peanut butter banana bread studded with mini peanut butter cups, snickers, chocolate chips AND caramel. I added some whole wheat pastry flour, you know… to make it “healthy.” I told you, crazytown!!

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And I just couldn’t help myself, I never can leave well enough alone, I drizzled the top with melted bittersweet chocolate. Crazytown.

Come my lady, come come my lady. You’re my butterfly, sugar baby. Oh gosh…

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Crazytown Peanut Butter Banana Bread
Yields one 8×4″ loaf

Ingredients:

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour (or more AP flour)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 very ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1/4 cup vegetable oil (you can also use canola)
1 large egg
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 oz mini peanut butter cups (I used these)
8 mini snickers, chopped
2 oz milk chocolate chips
8 caramels, chopped

Note: I used an 8×4″ pan but you can use a standard 9×5″ you loaf will be slightly thinner and will bake faster, so keep an eye on it! Also, go nuts with the mix-ins: add toffee bits, different candy bars, nuts, toasted coconut, etc.

Instructions:

Preheat your oven to 350F. Generously grease your loaf pan  with butter or spray with non-stick cooking spray; set aside.

In a medium bowl whisk together your flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt until combined, set aside.

In a large bowl stir together your bananas, peanut butter, oil, egg, sugars and vanilla extract. Whisk vigorously for about 30 seconds to ensure that everything is thoroughly combined. The batter will be a bit lumpy because of the bananas, that’s ok!

Pour your dry ingredients into your wet ingredients and, with a rubber spatula, fold everything together until just combined (the flour JUST disappears.)

Fold in your mini peanut butter cups, snickers and chocolate chips. Spread half of the batter into your prepared pan. Sprinkle the chopped caramels over the batter and give them a light press with your hand. Top with the rest of your batter and smooth the top with your spatula.

Bake for approx 1 hour or until toothpick inserted into center comes out with moist crumbs attached (always check your baked goods early, every oven is different and there’s nothing worse than a rock-solid loaf).

Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then loosen the edges of the pan with a plastic knife and remove from loaf pan, transferring bread to a cooling rack. Cool completely, or don’t, just don’t burn your tongue. Enjoy!

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Recipe adapted from Cookies & Cups

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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Cocoa Rice Krispies Football Treats

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A few days ago, I made mention that I’m a football fan. A pretty hardcore one at that. I am a hometown gal, Go Houston Texans!! Tony and I try to go to as many home games as we can, we live for the atmosphere. While we are there, we usually pick up a souvenir cup and a snack/lunch. It’s kind of a tradition.

When we watch the games at home snacks aren’t usually a MUST, we aren’t big TV snackers.

But since we were going to the in-laws’ house to watch the game, I found it fitting to bring a little football snack. Literally: little football snacks.

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These adorable little footballs are basically chocolate rice krispie treats with a bit of peanut butter and some melted white chocolate for the stitching. They are super simple to make, just a few more steps than traditional rice krispie treats. But totally worth it for the adorableness, WOW factor and most importantly… the taste!

I must confess that for not being a TV snacker, I ate way too any of these. As did everyone else. These were a big hit. Tony came back into the bedroom at 7am (before leaving for work) just to tell me that they looked pretty awesome!

And before you ask: yes, I have Texans tupperware!

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Cocoa Rice Krispies Football Treats
Makes 16 footballs

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 package (10 oz) regular marshmallows – OR – 4 cups miniature marshmallows
1/2 cup peanut butter
6 cups chocolate flavored crisped rice cereal (such as Cocoa Rice Krispies®)
white chocolate, for decorating

Stove top Instructions:

In large saucepan melt butter over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat. Stir in peanut butter until melted.
Add cereal. Stir until well coated.
Cool slightly. Using buttered hands shape mixture into sixteen 3-inch footballs.
Melt white chocolate, pour into a piping bag (or Ziplock baggie) and snip off a tiny hole at the tip and pipe on the stitches. Best if served the same day.

Microwave Instructions:

In microwave-safe bowl heat butter and marshmallows on HIGH for 3 minutes, stirring after 2 minutes. Stir until smooth.
Add peanut butter, stirring until melted.
Follow steps 2 and 3 above. Microwave cooking times may vary.

Notes:
For best results, use fresh marshmallows.

Store at room temperature in airtight container. To freeze, place in single layer on wax paper in airtight container. Freeze for up to 6 weeks. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving.

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Let’s Go Texaaaaaaaaans!!!!