Posted in Sweets

Chocolate Stout Cake

Oh. My. Double Yum.

The St. Patrick’s Day that keeps on giving! Or the one that would never end. Depending, of course, on your perspective.

Somehow … I cannot figure this one out … I did not learn of the delectableness that is a chocolate stout cake until now – my ??st year on this earth. How can that be?!?

Not to worry the wrong has been righted and I am in a better place now.

In general, I am not a huge fan of cake. I tend to prefer chocolate over dessert. For me, any sort of flour-based confection takes far too much of the spotlight off of the superstar (chocolate), making it unworthy of the extra, generally unnecessary calories.

I would say that this chocolate stout cake is as close as I’ll ever get to expressing any cake-love. The fam declared it “the best cake that you have ever made.” It is that good.

So good, in fact, that I made this chocolate stout cake cake two times in three days. Yes. Yes, I did. And we have half in the freezer, lying in wait for that day when everyone really wants cake again … which is really everyday.

I made the cake with the intention of serving it with a Bailey’s cream cheese frosting. Knowing that the picky cake lovers in this house would likely not enjoy the addition of the Bailey’s, I also made a vanilla cream cheese frosting.

The Man said that the icing almost took too much away from the deliciousness of the cake, so when I made it the second time, I tried a ganache. I can’t believe that I’m going to say this, but the chocolate in the ganache just took too much away from the cake.

We I recommend the vanilla cream cheese (recipe is included below).

Chocolate Stout Cake
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Ingredients
Cake
  • 1 cup stout beer, such as Guinness extra stout
  • ¾ cup butter
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa (I used Hershey's Special Dark)
  • 1½ cups non-GMO sugar
  • ½ tablespoon molasses
  • ¾ cup sour cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2½ teaspoons baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
Cream Cheese Icing
  • 8 ounces of cream cheese
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 2 cups powdered sugar (or less, depending on how sweet you prefer it)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Instructions
Cake
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Grease a 8 or 9-inch springform pan (I used butter) and line the bottom with parchment paper.
  3. Combine beer and butter in a large saucepan.
  4. Cook over medium-high heat until the butter is melted.
  5. Add the cocoa powder, sugar, and molasses and whisk together. Transfer mixture to a glass bowl and allow to come to room temperature.
  6. In a separate bowl, whisk the sour cream, eggs, and vanilla extract until no lumps remain.
  7. Add to the butter-beer mixture and whisk together.
  8. In another bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
  9. Add to the cooled beer-butter mixture and whisk until it just comes together.
  10. Pour into the prepared pan and let sit so that the air bubbles can mostly rise to the top. Gently spread a spatula over the top of the batter to pop the bubbles. I couldn't get them all out but that's because I'm impatient.
  11. Bake for 50-60 minutes. Allow to cool on a wire rack. Run a knife around the edge to separate the cake from the pan and pop the ring off the springform.
Cream Cheese Icing
  1. Let the butter and cream cheese soften at room temperature.
  2. Cream together the butter, cream cheese and vanilla.
  3. Gradually add in the powdered sugar ¼ cup at at time, until fully blended and smooth.
Notes
If you don't have molasses, you really should get some. Blackstrap, of course. But if you're in a pinch and don't have any, you can substitute ½ cup brown sugar for ½ cup of the white sugar.

Adapted from Simply Recipes and smitten kitchen.

Even if you’re not a St. Patty’s Day fan(atic), I recommend that you make this cake.

Or don’t. But that’s your loss.

Do you have any recipes that you have wished you had discovered sooner?

Posted in Quick n Easy, Snacks, Sweets

Easy Protein-Packed Pudding

What do you do when your fridge looks like this? …

a full real food fridge

… and you just bought a gallon of milk (because you were at the store and you knew that you’d be out before you were back at the store) but still have about a quarter gallon in the old milk jug and can’t fit both gallon jugs in there?

Not a dilemma you often encounter because you have another fridge? Lucky.

Well, in this particular instance, on this particular day, I decided to make pudding. Not just any pudding … the best pudding! As proclaimed by my 3 toughest critics – one of whom has claimed, adamantly and without question, that he does not like pudding. But when he saw it, looking all creamy and delicious sitting there in front of him, the temptation was more than he could bear.

easy creamy protein-packed pudding

Can you blame him?

They ate it all, leaving me with the bowl. And I’m not too proud to tell you that I licked it. Clean. Every last delicious pudding morsel.

Fortunately, this is so easy that I can make some more.

Easy Protein-Packed Pudding
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 4 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • ¼ cup (or more) chocolate chips (I use this brand)
  • dash salt
Instructions
  1. In a medium saucepan, combine milk, egg yolks, maple syrup, and corn starch.
  2. Whisk completely to blend in the egg yolks and dissolve any clumps of corn starch.
  3. Place over low-medium heat.
  4. As the milk warms, whisk every few minutes, making sure to scrape the edges of the pot (that's where the corn starch likes to collect). Some people will tell you that you have to whisk this constantly until it thickens... snore. Who has the time for that? I usually just give it a whisk every few minutes while it warms up.
  5. When it starts to thicken slightly, whisk constantly. This is a good time to catch up on email or Facebook, provided that you are an expert at the one-hand whisk.
  6. Whisk until thickened and just starting to bubble.
  7. Remove from heat.
  8. Stir in vanilla, chocolate chips, and salt.
  9. Pour it into a separate bowl or smaller serving bowls, cover, and stick it in the fridge. If you cover it and it won't get that hard film on top. If you like the hard film, go ahead and just stick it in there.
Notes
To make vanilla pudding, leave out the chocolate chips. This seems obvious, but just in case, I figured I'd let you know. You could also add 2 tablespoons of maple syrup, but we thought it was pretty delicious without it.

You can make this with tapioca or arrowroot but they don't seem to hold the firmness in the fridge as well as cornstarch. And you'll need to increase the amount if you choose to use either of them.

This will start to separate after a couple of days in the fridge. I usually pour them into popsicle molds and make pudding pops at this point.

If you don’t make pudding, what do you do when the fridge is jam-packed and you’ve got groceries that need to go in there?

Posted in Seasonal, Sweets

Soft and Crunchy Gingerbread Cookies

Sometime in the beginning of November, Big Britches casually asked when we would decorate gingerbread things.  I gave my customary sometime-in-the-future-without-committing-myself-to-a-date answer.  You know, like I always do when the kids ask me to do something that I really don’t want to do, so I hope that if I put them off long enough, they’ll forget. (You know you do it, too.)

Well, he did not forget.  And as Thanksgiving passed and he started to see more of the kits appear all over town, he was nearly relentless.  So, I decided to just buy him one of the boxes that had a giant gingerbread boy with pre-made icing and prepackaged candy adornments and he could do it himself. A true Mom-of-the-Year moment.

He came home from school and saw that box and you would have thought it was Christmas morning.  He was seriously that excited.  So, with his … ahem … father’s help, he sat and decorated his boy.  It had very little icing and very few candies.  A picture would be so appropriate here but alas I don’t have one …

Because he insisted on eating it!

I totally did not expect this. Who eats the gingerbread in those boxed kits? That are in the stores in exceptionally large quantities.  Aren’t they really just meant for decoration?

I had never considered that he wanted to eat the thing. My first response was an adamant “no.”  Because who eats those boxed gingerbread kits?!?

But he was persistent.

“If it’s supposed to be a decoration, why do they call it a “gingerbread” boy? Gingerbread is supposed to be eaten not be just ‘decoration’.” (Complete with air quotes on the “decoration.”)

Who can argue with that? Much too savvy for a five-year-old.

So, I let him eat it.  Except that he couldn’t.  Even after they broke that poor gingerbread boy into 29 pieces, they were so thick and hard that he could neither bite nor chew it.  Devastation.

Traditionally gingerbread cookies aren’t worthy enough to make it on our high-standard cookie list.  We simply cannot be bothered with something as lowly as a simple gingerbread cookie. Ok, not really. Most of my clan tend to favor other confections and don’t prefer spiced baked goods. I have a sugar cookie recipe that I love (that we sadly didn’t make this year) that has nutmeg in it.  They won’t touch them. But this child was on a gingerbread cookie mission.  And now I felt compelled to comply.

And let me tell you, friends, I am so happy I did.  Coming from a gal who is not a big fan of cookies or dessert unless there are copious amounts of chocolate involved, these are really awesome!  The texture is perfect and the spice is not overwhelming. I went with allspice instead of the traditional cloves because I figured it would be a bit less “clove-y.” I also rolled them a bit thinner (closer to 1/8″) to get more cookies out of the batch, but they would be super awesome if I had left them thicker (1/4″).

IMG_3461.JPG

Aren’t they beautiful? Please trust me that under all of the decor on top of these cookies, there is a real, homemade delicious treat.

Soft and Crunchy Gingerbread Cookies
 
Ingredients
Cookies
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • ¾ cup packed dark brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 2⅔ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¾ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ tsp allspice
Icing
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • 1-3 tsp milk
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in molasses and egg.
  2. In separate bowl, combine flour, ginger, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice; add to creamed mixture and mix well but don't over mix. Dough will be crumbly.
  3. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes or until easy to handle.
  4. Preheat oven to 350°. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each portion of dough to ⅛-in. thickness. Cut with a floured 4-in. cookie cutter. Place on greased baking sheets. Reroll scraps.
  5. Bake 8-10 minutes or until edges are firm.
  6. Remove to wire racks to cool completely.
  7. Put powdered sugar into a small bowl. Add milk, 1 tsp at a time, until spreading consistency. A little milk goes a long way!
  8. Decorate as desired.

Big Britches was so excited to decorate these! Not. He did exactly 2 cookies and was done.  None of the cookies pictured are actually his cookies.  The Bread Guy and Mr. Selective had loads of fun going overboard with the decorations that my sister provided.  I’m not even sure that they could taste the gingerbread

How many did he eat, you ask?  I didn’t count, but I’m pretty certain that it was close to 0.  None.  He did have a bite, but did not eat one single cookie.

Clearly, I need to try harder to be evasive.

Posted in Snacks, Sweets

Nut Butter Snack Cake

nut butter snack cake

Snack cake is a frequent visitor to our house after school.  As you can see, it never stays for very long.  I made this right before I left to pick up the kids and when we got home, most of it was gone in 3.2 seconds.

I find this is a good – and SUPER easy – filler for when we’re running out the door somewhere right after school.  Big britches doesn’t love it, but he eats it.  The No Fruit Guy of course scarfs it up  – he would probably eat the whole pan if I let him.  I always let them know that they have to have a fruit or veggie with it, listing the usual and customary options (bananas, apples, grapes, carrots).  And of course, they jump for joy and clamor to the fridge pushing and shoving each other out of the way – a real fight to get there first.  Yeah, no.  They somehow always “forget” or “don’t have time.”

Of course, I know that I should “offer those things first” (said in the most irriating of imitating voices).  Here’s the thing: when we have a quick turnaround in the afternoon, I don’t have the time or enough sanity to fight that battle.  And they HAVE to eat.  My children + starving = veeeeerrrrrrryyyyyyy U.G.L.Y. Which means that I then turn into that mom.  And I do my best to keep her contained inside the walls of our house.  You’re welcome.

This recipe was born from this recipe for Nut Butter Brownies that I found years ago.  I modified it to make it a bit less expensive to make and to make it less nut heavy.

Snack Cake
 
Author:
Serves: 9
Ingredients
  • ½ c almond butter
  • ¼ c honey
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ c butter, melted
  • 1 T vanilla
  • 1 c spelt (or ¾ c whole wheat or sprouted spelt)
  • ½ tsp soda
  • ¼ tsp powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • Enjoy Life Chocolate Chunks (or chocolate chips)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together the almond butter, honey, eggs, melted butter, and vanilla. Whisk until well blended.
  3. Add dry ingredients to bowl and mix well.
  4. Pour into greased 8x8 pan.
  5. Sprinkle chocolate chunks (or chips) on top. With a spatula or a spoon, gently press the chunks into the batter. (I find that this helps the chips from falling off.)
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Someday I’ll make this and they’ll run in, push it aside, to eat the giant plate of freshly sliced peppers that are also waiting on the counter.

Sigh.  A girl can dream, can’t she?