Spritztastrophe

I won’t share the full details since I’ve made and blogged this before, but just in case anyone thought I no longer had the more than minor mishaps, may I present Ex-spritz-it A:

 

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I think it was a combination of being on too low a rack in the oven and that for some reason the recipe I’d printed last year said 12-15 mins baking when it really should have been 8-10 (as I found when I googled and found another blog with the same recipe). Not sure why last year they were fine but whatever.

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YUM (aka chocolate cake with toasted marshmallow filling and malted chocolate frosting)

This was my “Happy Birthday to Me” cake – as it was for the source blogger, Brown Eyed Baker. Recipe in its entirety at source here: http://www.browneyedbaker.com/2013/03/25/six-layer-chocolate-cake-with-toasted-marshmallow-filling-malted-chocolate-frosting/?crlt.pid=camp.jQkyeDqUDJD8

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It was labor intensive, and decadent, AND I ended up having to make it twice because something went awry the first time.

Ingredients: (specifics at source)

Cake:
flour
sugar
Dutch-process cocoa powder (I just used Hershey’s)
baking soda
baking powder
salt
eggs
buttermilk
strong black coffee
vegetable oil
vanilla extract

For the Toasted Marshmallow Filling:
marshmallows
powdered sugar
unsalted butter
vanilla extract
Marshmallow Fluff

For the Malted Chocolate Frosting:
unsalted butter
powdered sugar
Ovaltine Classic (I actually got malt powder – I wanted more malted flavor than from ovaltine)
vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
semisweet or dark chocolate chocolate, melted and cooled
heavy cream

So, I’ve spent enough of my life on this cake that I’m not spending as much blogging it. LOL. So, to summarize -Mix dry stuff for cake and wet stuff separately, slowly add wet to dry and mix 2 minutes. Pour equally into three round cake pans (I think recipe called for 8″, we used 9″. Bake approximately 32 mins. at 350 (rotate at 20 minutes).

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Toasted marshmallow filling – oy. You’re supposed to broil the marshmallows until brown then flip them. Um, no. Mine spread and flattened and were too sticky to flip. They then congealed into a sticky/crispy/solid-ish mess that was impossible to mix into the powdered sugar/butter/fluff mixture.

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Then, the frosting. Typical buttercream with powdered sugar and butter, plus melted chocolate chips and malt powder, and heavy cream.

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After all that, to assemble, you have the slice each cake in half to make six layers, then put the marshmallow filling between them, then frost with the frosting.

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(Does that look like three layers, not six? Congrats, you just passed preschool math. More on this later.)

Final product, first try.

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So – looks good right? Except the husband and I return from birthday date night, cut in, and he finds a little chunk of glass that he bites down on. EEK. Not sure where it came from but we were both too freaked out to eat any more after that, so we tossed it. I was sad. So two three days later when home from work with the kids I remade it but only did 3 layers to make it easier.

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It was really good – but I think the combination of wasting all the time making it twice plus the sheer richness ended up in me not adoring it. The cake part was amazing. And the frosting was amazing. But together, I think it kind of overwhelmed me. Not so much that I didn’t take sveral bites every time I opened the fridge until it was gone, though.

 

Pumpkin Cake!

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My brother’s birthday often coincides with our annual Halloween get together, so it seemed only fitting that he get a Halloween themed cake. I went with something that looked cute but wouldn’t have me up until 2am baking entirely from scratch so I decided on a bundt cake from cake mix. Didn’t really use a specific recipe other than borrowing from numerous things I saw on Pinterest.

Ingredients:

  • 2 boxes cake mix (I used chocolate – accidentally used 2 different mixes. Sigh. Different shades of brown).
  • Ingredients box mixes call for (typically eggs and oil I think).
  • Buttercream icing (powdered sugar, butter, vanilla, food coloring). I have any number of recipes on other posts for it. Do NOT used shortening because (a) it tastes bad (meaning you’ll have to start over with real butter if you’re like me), and (b) it says this on the box which is terrifying:photo 2
  • Glaze – I don’t even remember the recipe I used but I think it was mostly cream cheese, milk and powdered sugar. Sorry, I’m lazy, but you can google glaze recipes.
  • One green ice cream cone.

Bake the 2 cakes according to package instructions. Note that I used a shit-ton (technical term) of cooking spray to ensure clean removal from Bundt. Here I am with my weapon and wearing the awesome R. Kelly “Hot and Fresh out the Kitchen” apron the husband got my for Mother’s Day.

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Stack one cake on top of the other upside down to make a pumpkin shape. Drizzle with the glaze, then decorate detail with buttercream. Stick ice cream cone in middle for stem.

Mine was kind of a hot mess, but it tasted good!

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S’mores Bars

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Had a hankering for s’mores lately and was trying to decide between bars and brownies. The husband chose the bars, and they were SUPER easy, and AMAZINGLY delicious. Amazing. LOVED. I always like what I bake because I like food and sweets, but usually it doesn’t go past a bite or two and then I’m done. I could have eaten 30 of these.

Recipe from sugar cooking and link back for specific instructions so I don’t inadvertently take her traffic.

Ingredients = super easy.  Pretty much stuff you have around anyways plus s’mores makings. (Hershey bars, marshmallow fluff and graham cracker).

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PS – If you compare my recipe pic above to the actual listing in the recipe you may note I inadvertently forgot the white sugar and used only brown. WHOOPS! Funny thing is, they still came out ok!

Process was also super easy. Prepare batter as instructed in original recipe linkback.

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I had no issues notwithstanding my failure to include the sugar. Put half the batter in the bottom of a greased 8×8 pan, lay Hershey’s bars on it, spread with marshmallow fluff, lay remaining batter atop that layer (they recommend creating “shingles” and laying side by side) and bake 30-35 minutes at 350.

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Then cool, and cut into bars.

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HEAVEN.

They’re not as pretty as the originals but I don’t even care.

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You can reheat in microwave after they’ve cooled to re-goo. Enjoy!

“Hostess” Orange Cupcakes

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An online chat with some friends about what recipes from childhood we’d like to recreate helped me arrive at a craving for Hostess orange cupcakes. Since Hostess is now defunct (did anyone actually think that days after the announcements Hostess products would literally be off the shelves for good? I certainly didn’t), I have no choice BUT to make them myself. And yes, I prefer the orange to the chocolate.

I found only ONE recipe online purporting to recreate this deliciousness, so I will link back and not entirely reproduce so as not to steal her traffic.

Recipe for Hostess Orange Cupcakes

Ingredients: See link back for amounts, and note that in addition to typical baking inputs, you’ll need oranges (I think I used 4) and orange flavored liqueur. Although I used orange extract instead.

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Orange Cupcakes:
cake flour
baking powder
salt
unsalted butter, softened
granulated sugar
eggs
finely grated orange zest (I was able to get all that I needed plus some from one orange)
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freshly squeezed strained orange juice (I have no juicer so just cut oranges in half and squeezed the crap out of them. I think I used 3-4 oranges for what I needed).
whole milk
Cream Filling:
unsalted butter, softened
confectioners’ sugar
heavy cream
vanilla extract
Orange Glaze:
confectioners’ sugar
strained fresh orange juice
orange-flavored liqueur (Note – I didn’t want to buy a bottle of liqueur that I’d never use again, so I found something online saying you can substitute 1 tsp orange extract for every 1 tbsp of orange liqueur required, and this seemed to work well for me).
Orange food coloring

Royal Icing Squiggle: [I didn’t actually make this part. Too exhausted after the rest and kid troubles and issues with the cream filling, etc. If I HAD made it, I intended to just use my own milk and powdered sugar recipe without the eggs that I used on the gingerbread cookie recipe. But sharing here for those who want to follow the recipe precisely]

confectioners’ sugar
liquid pasteurized egg whites
1 tablespoon warm water
Instructions:
Mix dry ingredients. Beat butter and sugar as directed in original recipe, then add eggs, orange zest and orange juice. Reduce speed and add flour mixture alternated with milk (3 adds of flour, 2 of milk). Pour into baking cups (2/3 full) and bake 18-22 minutes until tootpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes in the pan (this is important and I missed this causing some issues).
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For filling, beat the butter at medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Add sugar and beat at high. Add the cream and beat for another minute. Scrape the filling into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/4-inch plain or star tip. [This is where we had issues. I followed the instructions but for some reason my cream filling got very thick and almost solidified, and the cream didn’t blend into it but kept separating out. It got worse when I put it in the pastry bag. It was so thick it wouldn’t really move through the bag or tip and just squirted the liquid out and eventually the pressure made the bag and tip burst open. Ugh.]
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To fill the cupcakes you’re instructed to cut a hole in the bottom of each with a paring knife in an x shape, put the tip in, and fill with frosting. With all the frosting bag issues, I finally was able to force it out of a very wide tip but only could get a small amount of cream in each. Then, because the cupcakes weren’t cooled enough, by the time they were done all the cream filling had melted. Blah. I also wasn’t sure whether you were supposed to cut the hole and add the filling with the liners on or off. I did on at first, which seemed to messy, so then tried off, but then they didn’t go nicely back in the liners, so back again. Just a mess.
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Now the orange topping. You mix the powdered sugar with the orange juice and liqueur (or extract) into a fine paste. Heat until warm, then remove from heat, add orange food coloring (or yellow and red in my case, with 4 drops yellow, and 2 drops red). Leave in saucepan on low heat and dip each cupcake (let excess drip off). It will harden quickly. You also have to keep stirring what remains in the saucepan.
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Again, by this time I was DONE. I’d already had to wash the entire mixing bowl and apparatus once, spent way more time than was reasonable messing with cream filling, etc. Did I mention that my 3.5 year old declined to help me bake, then after the cupcakes were in the oven, came in crying saying “start it over” (sorry bub, doesn’t work that way)? And it was past dinner time by now.
Anyways, they really weren’t bad. Especially the glazed part. But way too much effort for the reward.

Sugar Cookie Bars (Valentine’s)

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This was attempt 2 at Valentine’s cookies (see prior “Mincemeat” post).

Thought I’d finally take a crack at the sugar cookie bar recipes I’d pinned repeatedly. Randomly decided on this one:  Sugar Cookie Squares.

Ingredients:

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1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 egg white
1 Tbsp sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 recipe vanilla frosting, recipe follows
Frosting:
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
2-3 Tbsp half and half
1 tsp vanilla
Pinch of salt
Several drop food coloring (optional)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 13″ x 9″ baking dish, set aside. In a mixing bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt, set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, whip together butter and sugar until pale and fluffy about 3-4 minutes. Stir in egg and egg white.
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Add sour cream and vanilla and mix until blended. Slowly add dry mixture and stir until well combine. With buttered hands, gently press (so gently almost patting) mixture into buttered baking dish.
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Bake 16 – 19 minutes until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and edges are lightly golden. Cool completely, then frost and cut into squares.
[To make frosting, in a mixing bowl, with an electric mixer, whip together butter and powdered sugar and half and half until fluffy. Stir in vanilla and salt. Add in food optional food coloring and mix until well blended.]
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So, I followed the directions precisely. They look nice, right? Except they were underbaked…nay, UNbaked. They were raw cookie dough with frosting atop. Eh. Good with chocolate chip cookies, not so much sugar cookies. Worse, I’m aware my oven is slow but baked them longer than instructed, waited until edges golden, toothpick clean, and still, mine weren’t baked through. Everyone still ate them, don’t get me wrong, but I wasn’t happy.

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Mince Meat Cookie Dough

This is just getting shared because it’s utterly comical.

We came home from vacation on Thursday to an empty fridge. Friday picked up necessities but forgot baking stuff (eggs, etc.). I had planned on making Valentine’s cookies with the little ones only to discover upon pulling out my various recipes that we were missing eggs, together with various other necessary ingredients.

In an attempt at improvisation I decided we could just make eggless cookie dough to eat raw. But they REALLY wanted Valentine’s cookies. So I decided to add some red food coloring too…

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Tasted fine, but not pretty. A facebook friend pointed out that it looked like ground meat. Cookie FAIL.

Cake Batter Truffles

Got this recipe from Elise Bakes and was going to file away for some future date, but the 3 year old dictator in our home was demanding a Christmas Party to use the candles that he’d been carrying around in a bag for a week, so we modified to New Year’s Party and decided to have a little celebration of 2013’s birth.

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Recipe as follows:

Ingredients:

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  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup yellow cake mix, dry
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 3-5 Tbsp milk
  • 2 Tbsp sprinkles
  • 16 oz white candy melts or vanilla chips [I strongly recommend the latter … see below.]

Instructions:

  1. Beat butter and sugar until combined.

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  1. Add flour, cake mix, vanilla, and salt and beat until combined throughout.

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  1. Add milk by the tablespoon until you reach a dough consistency (Elise said she usually ends up using just 3 tbsp, I think I actually used close to 4.5).  The dough will be sort of crumbly, but you should still be able to form balls out of it.
  2. Mix in sprinkles and form balls out of the dough.

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  1. Chill balls in the freezer for 15 minutes or so.
  2. Melt candy melts according to package directions and using two forks, dip the balls in the melts.  Let harden before moving.

Yeah, so that last step there is where it gets interesting. I started with Candiquick and melted according to package instructions. It seemed like it was getting too thick so I tried to reheat it. Still didn’t work, got thicker, kept trying, etc. and here’s where we ended up:

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Not so much. I guess I overheated and burned it. Classy. Luckily I had a bag of the Hobby Lobby vanilla melts in the cabinet so I used those next and did better. Only issues was it was still thicker than I pictured and hard to smoothly roll the balls in it to get evenly coated. Plus they dried FAST so half were dry before I could sprinkle them so I had to add a bit in top to use the sprinkles. The two different candy melt options explain the color disparity here too, ivory (vanilla melts) v. white (candiquick).

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P.S. – We MAY have had a three year old running around the kitchen yelling “I wanna dip my balls in it” at some point in the course of making these. I plead the fifth.

It’s fall! (aka Pumpkin Bread)

Recipe via google (which brought me to this Downeast Maine Pumpkin Bread recipe). I had this one bookmarked from previous years, and it’s virtually identical.

Nothing much to this. Take the wet ingredients plus sugar and throw it in a bowl and mix it up. Throw the rest of the ingredients in another bowl and mix ’em around. Add bowl #2 to bowl #1 and mix it again. Split between two loaf pans and bake at 350 for 50 minutes (or 58 if you have my underachieving oven). The recipe said 3 7×3 loaf pans but I don’t even know what that is so I used standard sized 9x5x3 (or thereabouts) and made 2 instead of 3.

Ingredients. Easy/Peasy (Lemon Squeezy).

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Pans greased and floured. Maybe not enough though (see below).

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Bowl of liquid pumpkin goo (eggs, oil, pumpkin, water and sugar. The oil kept trying to separate.

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My “helper” getting in on the action. He tasted the “yummy salt” (spices), and got a bit too much ginger and was none too happy about it.

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Although the recipe didn’t call for it, because mine would be consumed mostly by a 1 year old, a 3 year old, and a young at heart 42 year old, I added chocolate chips. Which were promptly picked out one at a time by my sous chef for immediate consumption.

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Two pans o’ pumpkin bread, ready to bake.

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Two pans o’ Pumpkin Bread, fully baked.

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One pan that grew so fond of it’s pumpkin flavored companion it couldn’t let go altogether. :-/

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Which at least gave us something to munch while the rest cooled…

 

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Luckily the other came out perfectly – until a certain someone tried to pick a chocolate chip out of it.

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Final sliced product (and failed attempt at food porn photography).

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THE END!

No Bake Halloween Treats!

After the melted frosting mess last Halloween and dealing with an infant and two year old, I decided to take an easy route this year and go for no bake goodies. Also, what I really wanted to make was this pumpkin cake…

…but since my sister in law was bringing birthday cake I thought that would be overkill.

So, I made Witch’s Hat Cookies, Peanut Butter Ghosts, and a fun candy jar, all courtesy of Pinterest.

None of these really require a recipe but you can check out the links for instructions if needed.

For the Witch’s Hats, ingredients are:

1 Package Keebler Fudge Stripe Cookies
1 Bag Hershey’s Kisses
Orange frosting in a tube (I used the Wilton orange sparkly kind).

Then you just put frosting on the bottom of a Hershey’s kiss as “glue” to stick it to the upside down cookie…

and encircle it for the ribbon around the hat.

Now, the ghosts should have been easy enough. Ingredients:

1 Package Nutter Butter cookies
12 ounces “vanilla flavored candy coating” (this is important)
1 bag mini chocolate chips

Except, I couldn’t find that candy coating crap anywhere, and figured it must be the same as white chocolate, so I got a couple bags of white chocolate chips. I tried to melt them in a saucepan as the recipe directed, but guess what? White chocolate doesn’t melt into a liquid like regular chocolate. No, it gets mushy, and coagulated, until it’s one giant clump of fat and goo, and then it starts burning and caramelizing and turning brown, until it ruins not 1, but 2 of your pots, as you try with the second bag because you mistakenly assumed that the first try didn’t work because the pot was the wrong size.

Yeah, not so much. 😦

My trusty facebook friends schooled me on vanilla flavored candy coating and directed me to Hobby Lobby (which I’d never been to before but it was AWESOME). So candy coating in hand I tried again. Instead of melting it over the stove as directed, I followed the directions on the bag and just microwaved in 30 second increments, stirring between nuke sessions, until we had some nice creamy melted coating:

Then we dipped the nutter butters in the coating (top and sides only, not the entire cookie). Recipe said to use tongs but we (hubs helped and did much of the dipping, even with a baby on his shoulder!) found it far more efficient to dip by hand.

Then you just place two mini chocolate chips near the top of each cookie for the ghosts’ eyes, and you have some spooky little treats! You’re supposed to let them set for like 10 minutes but I gave them (and the witch’s hats) overnight.

The last thing I made was just a bunch of candy in a jar, layered to make a nice looking decoration. Mine (second pic below) wasn’t as pretty as the inspiration (first pic below) but still cute!

I couldn’t find regular black licorice so I used nibs which weren’t nearly as neat looking, and no gumballs or pretty suckers, just the crap I could find at Target. It was still a big hit though!