Cranberry Apple Cake and Merry Christmas!

 

Cranberry Cake- Christmas

Firstly, I wanted to wish you all a very Merry Christmas.  No, I am not blogging on Christmas morning 🙂  These blog posts are usually written and then scheduled for the morning.

Some of us are busy.  Some of us may finally have the time to sit and read a blog post instead of going off to work.  So, I decided to post this cake which may save someone if they need a quick dessert or breakfast to bring to someone’s house this holiday weekend.

Cranberry Cake-Whisk Together

 

Why I love this recipe:

1.  All of these items are usually on sale together and in season at this time.  (Aldi was selling bags of fresh cranberries for 25 cents each!)
2.  I have used this recipe for breakfast and dessert and snack.
3.  You can make this the day of or the day before you need it.
4.  It is a little like a pie… but without the need for a pie crust.
5.  Kid approved too!  My kids love this and eat it whether I make it the original way or the “healthier” way.

Cranberry Cake-on Whisk Together

Recipe Notes:  I have made this recipe 4 times in the past two weeks and the following are my observations:

Freezing fresh cranberries yields great results.  As mentioned above, I found bags of fresh cranberries at Aldi for 25 cents each.  I stocked up and froze them in ziplock freezer bags.  To use them, I thaw them in the fridge first overnight.  I am sure you could use them frozen and just watch the cake baking time – it might take longer to bake with frozen cranberries.  I do this all of the time with frozen blueberries.

Keep in mind, I have lowered my tolerance for sugar/sweets.  So, the original brown sugar content was too sweet for me and I lowered it to 1/4 cup.  Some reviewers of the original recipe complain that the 1/2 cup of brown sugar is not sweet enough.  I believe this is all your preference and what you are used to.

I noticed NO discernible difference between using all-purpose flour and white whole wheat flour.  Again, my family is used to eating almost all whole wheat/whole grain products.  So, again I think it is all what you are used to.  If you want to try white whole wheat, go for it!

My butter and applesauce notes-
#1 First try was with all butter:  of course it was delicious!  Nice buttery background flavor to the cranberries.  The top had a slight crunch with cake like interior that melts in your mouth.
#2 Second try was with 4 Tb. melted butter and 4 Tb. applesauce.  I couldn’t tell much difference.  The finished product tasted very similar.  The texture was slightly more gummy than the airy all butter #1 cake.
#3 Third try was with all applesauce:  it was delicious too!  The cake part was a little more gummy as is typical with substituting applesauce for oil or butter in most recipes.  The slight crunch on the top was gone completely.  The taste was very good and you definitely taste the cranberry.  The butter flavor was gone… but without eating the pies side by side, I didn’t miss it.

For serving guests, I make version #1 because it is delicious and decadent.  If I make this recipe for close friends or family, I go ahead and make version #3 because it is more economical as well as fewer steps in the recipe.

Cranberry Cake-6010 on Whisk Together

Even the pie pan is drooling because this tastes so good!  🙂

Cranberry Apple Cake and Merry Christmas!
 
:
Ingredients
  • 12 ounce bag of fresh cranberries, rinsed and drained; or a bag that was frozen and thawed
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, cored and diced (you can peel it too if you like)
  • 1 and ⅛ tsp. cinnamon
  • ¼-1/2 cup brown sugar (1/4 cup for a tart cake, ½ cup for a sweet cake)
  • 2 oranges
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup + 1 Tb. sugar
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled; or ½ cup applesauce
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • ¼ cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup all purpose flour or white whole wheat flour
  • ¼ tsp. kosher salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Spray a 10" or 9.5" ceramic or glass pie pan with cooking spray. Set it on top of a rimmed cookie sheet or rimmed pan.
  3. In a large bowl, toss together cranberries, chopped apple, 1 tsp. cinnamon and brown sugar. Zest the 2 oranges to get 1 Tb. of orange zest. Now, cut them in half and squeeze out ¼ cup of orange juice. Pour into pie pan.
  4. In another large bowl, beat the eggs with a mixer for 2 minutes on medium-high. Add 1 cup sugar, butter (or applesauce), vanilla and sour cream (or Greek yogurt). Beat on medium until mixed together.
  5. On low or "stir", add the flour and salt. Mix until it just combines. Pour this batter over the fruit.
  6. Mix together the other 1 Tb. of sugar and ⅛ tsp. of cinnamon. Sprinkle on top of the cake batter.
  7. Bake 55-60 minutes. The top will be a pretty golden brown.
  8. Wait for this cake to cool an hour or two. I like mine cold from the fridge similar to how I like to eat apple pie. Or, warm it up. Or serve while warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Or simply serve for breakfast or quick snack.
Notes
Recipe adapted from Ina Garten "How Easy is That?"

 

Cinnamon Roll Cake and Flourishing

 

Cinnamon Roll Cake

Update:  Next year’s MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) theme is “A Fierce Flourishing”.  After two years of research and one graduate Positive Psychology class, I did a presentation back in March on “Thriving” and thought this would be the perfect time to post that in my blog.  I have included the PowerPoint Presentation as well as my handout.  I hope someone can find these items useful in teaching other women about thriving.  As I state in the conclusion of the presentation: we work on our hobbies, we work on our house, we work for a living, how about we take an hour to work on one of our greatest sources of happiness: our family.

Thrive Handout

Thriving Powerpoint Presentation

 

Chocolate Stuffed Strawberries-2586 on Whisk Together

Recipe:

Okay, I know this is NOT the recipe to follow up with my doing to the Total 10 diet.  But, it was Mother’s Day!  After 3 dishwasher loads, a trip to teaching at church and feeding 10 people I get to eat cake 🙂  So then, without further ado I have had to add this cake to my BEST EVER Top 5 cakes.

Cinnamon Bun Cake-2595 on Whisk Together

My other Favorites are:

Strawberry Cream Cake

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Devil’s Food Cheesecake

Berry Tiramisu

Chocolate Fudge Cake

Apple Cream Cheese Bundt Cake

Well.  Now, I’m up to 6 cakes!

Cinnamon Bun Cake-2593 on Whisk Together

This cake is so good, we’ll have to make this an even number top cakes ever.  It’s super delicious, super easy.  I wish I could just make like hundreds of them and sell them at stores because it would make EVERYONE happy.

Cinnamon Bun Cake-2599 on Whisk Together

I thought this was a pretty original idea…. only come to find out of course that there are no original ideas in cooking and baking.  Like…… ever.  This recipe is also floating around as Honey Bun Cake.  But since I was trying to make it look and taste like a cinnamon roll in cake form, I’m calling it Cinnamon Roll Cake.  And yes, the lower calorie swaps WORK!!  Usually they don’t in some cake mixes and applesauce goes terribly wrong.  But this will go terribly right and you will thank me.

*Note:  This recipe has been changed since perhaps some of the people have posted it on Food.com and Allrecipes.com.  Why?  Because those lovely cake mix makers decided to reduce their cake mix from 18 ounces to 16 ounces per box.  What does this mean to you?  Well, it means all those lovely old cake mix based recipes might not turn out the same.  This recipe uses 2/3 cup of oil.  Most recipes you find will use 3/4 and this is because of the reduction in dry mix.

Cinnamon Roll Cake
 
:
Ingredients
  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • ⅔ cup vegetable oil or applesauce or mixture of both
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 Tb. milk
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees or 325 degrees for pyrex/glass, nonstick or dark pan. 325 degrees for the Cinnamon Roll pan I used.
  2. Grease and flour a 9x13" pan or 10 cup bundt pan or cinnamon roll cake pan.
  3. In a great big mixing bowl, mix the cake mix, oil or applesauce, eggs and sour cream (or yogurt) for 30 seconds on low. Mix for 2 minutes on medium high.
  4. Pour only HALF the batter into the pan.
  5. In a small bowl, mix the brown sugar and cinnamon together. Sprinkle all over the pan.
  6. Dollop the remaining cake batter onto the brown sugar. Spread and even out the batter to cover up the brown sugar mixture..
  7. Take a butter knife and make gently long strokes through the batter and swirl it in big swirls.
  8. Pop the cake into the oven for 44-48 minutes in a 9x13" pan. Check the bundt pan after 35 minutes. Check the cinnamon roll pan after 39 minutes.
  9. When removing from the oven, if using a shaped pan like the bundt or cinnamon roll, let the cake sit for 15 minutes to cool. Then, invert onto a cooling rack to finish cooling.
  10. While the cake bakes, mix the powdered sugar and vanilla in a small bowl. Add milk until the icing because the consistency you like.
  11. You can drizzle the icing on while the cake is warm, or wait for it to cool.
  12. Cool the cake about 1 hour before serving.

 

 

Cake Presentation, Ice Cream & New York Super Fudge Chunk

Cream Filling_5CR

This week I am doing a basic cake decorating class.  We will be discussing better baking techniques, recipes and basic decorating to make things pretty – but still easy!  I love easy and pretty probably as much as pretty yet functional. 🙂

Here is the link for my friends for the presentation in PDF format.  Not everyone has MS PowerPoint or OpenOffice, so this is the best way to get it around to everyone.   Pages 9 and 10 were too large for posting and just photos of the Hostess Cupcakes piped with cream vs. the Cookie Dough Cupcakes that were cored and filled.

Cake Decorating Presentation pgs 1-4
Cake Decorating Presentation pgs 5-8
Cake Decorating Presentation pgs 11-12
Cake Decorating Presentation pgs 13-16
Cake Decorating Presentation pgs 17-20

And what goes with cake?  Ice Cream of course!  I’m getting lots of questions about ice cream and thought I would recap some favorites.  I have also added below my chocolate lovers absolute OMG chocolate heaven ice cream I made years and years ago.  It has a lot of ingredients, but totally worth it.  I don’t care for chocolate and like it – so that says a lot.  It has a great chocolate base and the add-ins just work well together.  Please keep in mind that it does use raw egg as many of Ben & Jerry’s recipes do in their book.  Stores sell pasteurized eggs I believe as well.

Cake and Ice Cream Collage

Top Left:  Chocolate Mousse Ice Cream
Below Cake: Strawberry Soda Ice Cream
Below Strawberry: Milky Way Ice Cream
Bottom Left:  Maple Ice Cream (Tastes GREAT with bacon!)
Right under “Ice Cream”:  Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream
Bottom Right:  Chocolate Mint Oreo Ice Cream

New York Super Fudge Chunk Ice Cream

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped white chocolate
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped semisweet chocolate
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecan halves
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup halved chocolate-covered almonds
  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch salt

Instructions

  1. Take all the add-ins (chopped chocolates and nuts) and cover and place in the fridge.
  2. I like to melt my chocolate in the microwave. You could also use a double boiler on the stove. Either way, melt the unsweetened chocolate. Stir in the milk a little at a time. Whisk Together!
  3. In a separate large bowl, whisk together the eggs until they are fluffy - this takes me about 2-3 minutes. Add the sugar, whipping cream, vanilla and salt. Whisk Together!
  4. Whisk in the chocolate mixture into the cream mixture. Place in the fridge until it is really cold - about 2 hours or so.
  5. Churn the chocolate cream mixture in your ice cream maker per the instructions. Add the chopped chocolate and nuts in the last minute or so of churning. Eat immediately for a soft serve consistency or freeze in the freezer for more of a harder ice cream.
http://www.whisktogether.com/2014/06/25/cake-presentation-ice-cream-new-york-super-fudge-chunk/

Recipe from Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream Recipe Book

 

Easy Chocolate Frosting and 23 More!

Cream Filling_5

Here is the EASIEST chocolate frosting I have ever made.  It will frost 24 cupcakes using a knife to spread it like a can of frosting would.  To make high pillars of frosting on top, you will need to double the recipe.  And… NO trans fats!  The FDA is going to ban them soon anyway, so might as well learn to make our own flavor-filled frostings!  🙂

Homemade Can of Chocolate Frosting
frosts 24 cupcakes or generously frosts 12 cupcakes

1 stick (8 Tb or 4 oz.) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
3-4 Tb. milk or cream
1 tsp. vanilla
1 pinch salt

1.  Sift your cocoa and powdered sugar especially if you want them to look pretty.  If it is you and the kids… it is not going to hurt to skip this step.
2.  In a great big bowl, beat the butter 1-2 minutes.  Add 1 cup of the cocoa/sugar.  Add 1 Tb. cream
Alternate until everything has been incorporated.  Add more cream or milk if you need to thin down the frosting.  Remember:  You can always add more milk, but it is difficult to add more dry ingredients.  Adding more milk will yield a more spreadable product.  If you plan on making fancy roses that require stiff buttercream, you need less milk.
3.  Add salt and vanilla.
4.  Beat on high for 2 minutes.  Frost and eat!  If you are going to use sprinkles, then sprinkle them immediately after frosting the cake or cupcake.  The frosting will dry on top rather quickly and prevent the sprinkles from sticking.  Now… the frosting doesn’t get hard or taste dry at all.  It is just the very top.

Need more frosting ideas?

Try these!

Maple Buttercream Frosting

Maple Buttercream

Stabilized Whipped Cream

Margarita Cupcakes_3 on Whisk Together

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

King Cake Cupcakes_1CR

Caramel Buttercream

Snickers Cupcakes

Chocolate Glaze

hostess cupcake_5CR

Orange Icing

Tangerine Cupcakes CR

Lightened Up Chocolate Frosting

Light Chocolate Frosting_1 on Whisk Together

Vanilla Bean Buttercream

vanilla bean cupcakesCR

Powdered Sugar Icing

Cup of Coffee Cupcakes_4CR

Cream Cheese Frosting

carrot cake cupcake_1 CR

Peanut Butter Frosting

PB Cup Cupcake

Vanilla Buttercream

root beer float cupcake CR

Frosting for Four Cupcakes

Cupcakes

Almond Buttercream

White Almond Sour Cream Cake

Cream Cheese Frosting for Carrot Cake

Carrot Cake_8 on Whisk Together

Brown Sugar Icing

Apple Cream Cheese Cake_2CR

Light Chocolate Frosting

Chocolate CHip cookie dough cheesecake_2CR

Chocolate Buttercream for Decorating

chocolate covered strawberry cake_1

Turtle Cake Frosting (using Unsweetened Chocolate)

Turtle Cake_1

7 Minute Frosting

Snickerdoodle Cupcakes_2

Cookie Dough Frosting

Cookie Dough Cupcakes_3

Sugar Cookie Glaze

Sugar Cookie_7CR

Pumpkin Cake with Maple Buttercream

Maple Buttercream

Book Update:  I finished my freezer meal presentation for one MOPS group and it was a huge hit.  I can’t wait to finish the book.  Here are the sections so far:  Preface, Introduction, What foods you can freeze, what foods you cannot freeze, how to freeze (almost) everything methods, A chart of all cuts of meat I found at the grocery store and how to cook eat one, A chart of all kinds of vegetables and fruits and how to freeze each one, and lots of recipes!  Some recipes from the website and some very old ones from mom and grandma that I haven’t posted.

We had a “reverse freezer meal” party and the 16 ladies made 32 meals in about 20 minutes!  How crazy is that?!  So much fun though.  What I mean by “reverse freezer meal” is that instead of having everyone bring meat or providing meat (which may run into issues keeping it cold, etc.), I had bags ready with label and ingredients to put in.  The meal was all ready – you just had to add the meat!  We made BBQ Pulled Pork and Hickory Smoked Chicken.

Recipe Update: Again, I’m including homemade and box mix recipes.  Pumpkin cake is soooo tasty this time of year. Since refrigeration is essential when working with cream cheese frosting, I made up a maple buttercream instead.  Fantastic!  It’s something a little unexpected and I could seriously just put that frosting on just about anything.  So good.  For the flavoring, I used Durkee brand maple flavoring.  I’ve used Mapeleine in the past.  Maybe because mine was old… but it just never tasted right.  I really liked the Durkee – a little goes a long way!

Rose Cupcakes on Whisk Together

Want something different?  Try pumpkin cake pops!

Maple Buttercream
yield 2 – 9×13 pans

1 lb. (4 sticks) butter, unsalted and softened
1 lb. 8 oz. powdered sugar (sifted if you need the frosting smooth)
1 tablespoon mereingue powder (optional; used for stability)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon maple flavoring
2-4 tablespoons cream, half and half or milk or real maple syrup

1.  Cream the butter until fluffy on MEDIUM speed.
2.  Add powdered sugar little by little on LOW speed.
3.  Add salt, meringue powder if using, and maple flavoring.
4.  Beat on medium until incorporated.
5.  Add 2 tablespoons of cream and mix.  Continue to add another 1-2 tablespoons until the frosting is spreadable.
6.  Taste test your frosting.  Does it need more maple flavoring?  Try another 1/4 teaspoon – this is a more assertive maple flavor and very tasty.
7.  Once you have the color and flavor, beat the frosting on medium-high for 2 minutes

Pumpkin Cake
yield 1 – 9×13

1 box (about 18 oz.) Spice cake mix
1 cup canned/pureed pumpkin
3/4 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees (that is probably what the box suggests).  Beat  together the mix, pumpkin, water, oil and eggs per instructions on the box.  This is usually mixing on low for 30 seconds and then medium for 2 minutes.  Bake in a greased and floured or sprayed with Baker’s Joy 13×9 pan.  Use a toothpick to ensure the cake is thoroughly cooked in the middle.  Cool completely.

Pumpkin Cake from Scratch
yields 1 -9×13

1/2 cup (2 sticks; 8 oz.) butter, unsalted and softened
1 and 1/4 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups (200 grams) sifted cake flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt!
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup buttermilk

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour or spray a 9×13 pan.
2.  Beat the sugar and butter together on medium to  medium high speed until light and fluffy.
3.  Add eggs one at a time.  Scrape the bowl.  Add the pumpkin and vanilla.  mix.
4.  Whisk together you dry stuff in a medium bowl:  cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves.
5.  Alternate adding the buttermilk and the flour into the cake batter.  Start and end with the flour.
6.  Mix until combined.
7.  Bake a 9×13 about 35-40 minutes.  Bake 2- 8″ rounds about 25-30 minutes.  Bake cupcakes about 22 minutes.

Recipe from joyofbaking.com

TONS of cupcakes!  I had 13 boxes of these puppies!

Rose Cupcakes_9 on Whisk Together

White Almond Sour Cream Wedding Cake

White Almond Sour Cream Cake

Book Update:  I’m halfway through “The Rent Collector” by Camron Wright, and it is a really good story.  So far, I would recommend it  or try the first chapter out anyway.

Recipe Update:  This cake and cake recipe is the result of baking for almost 200 guests for my cousin’s wedding.  Half of the cupcakes were white almond sour cream cake topped with an almond vanilla buttercream frosting – a typical wedding cake.  The other half of the cupcakes were pumpkin cupcakes topped with a maple buttercream.  I know cream cheese would be a classic with pumpkin, but the cupcakes would be at room temperature longer than 2 hours and cream cheese really should be refrigerated just in case.

There are two versions of this cake.  One uses a box mix and the other does not.  It is up to you which to use.  Of course, you don’t have to wait for a wedding to have this cake.  We loved eating the trimmings!  The cake texture is a dense angel food cake.  The crumb is fine.  The cake is tender, but will hold for wedding tiers.  I would have a photo… but I kept one wedding cupcake aside to photograph and sent the other 250 cupcakes to the wedding.  When I came home, someone ate the cupcake.  

For white box mixes, I prefer Betty Crocker.  For yellow box mixes, I prefer Duncan Hines.

Rose Cupcakes_3 on Whisk Together

White Almond Sour Cream Wedding Cake
makes 30 cupcakes

1 (18.25 ounces) white cake box mix
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 and 1/3 cups water
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (use clear vanilla if you need a pure white colored cake)
1 teaspoon almond extract
4 egg whites

1.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease and flour (or use Baker’s Joy baking spray) a 9×13 pan, or 2- 8″ or 9″ round pans, or line a muffin pan with 30 cupcakes liners.
2.  In a great big bowl, add the dry stuff:  cake mix, flour, sugar, and salt.  Mix this up in the mixer on low.
3.  Add the wet stuff:  water, sour cream, oil, extracts and egg whites.  Beat  until incorporated on low.  Now, beat for FOUR minutes.
4.  Bake cupcakes for 20 minutes.  Bake 8″ rounds for 35 minutes.  Bake 9×13 for 40 minutes.  Check to make sure a toothpick comes out clean of course. . For cupcakes, cool for 5-10 minutes and remove from the pan to cool on a wire rack.  For the rest of the cakes, place parchment side down on a wire rack to cool.  I have done it the opposite way and sometimes the cake sticks too much to the rack.  You will have to flip the cake onto a plate first, and then flip it back onto a wire rack to get it to sit on the wire rack with the parchment side down.

Recipe: adapted from one I found on Allrecipes.com but the typical WASC cake can be found in many sources

From Scratch- White Almond Sour Cream Wedding Cake
2 – 9×13 pans

5 cups cake flour
3 and 1/3 cups sugar
2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup milk
1 and 1/3 cups shortening or butter (butter will make the cake a little yellow, but I like the taste better)
16 ounces sour cream
2 teaspoons almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
10 egg whites or 5 whole eggs

1.  Preheat oven to 350.
2.  In a great big bowl, sift the dry stuff: cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
3.  Add: milk, shortening, sour cream and extracts.  Beat 2 minutes.
4.  Add egg whites and beat on high 2 minutes.
5.  Pour into prepared pans and bake.  Cupcakes about 20 minutes.  Rounds 35 minutes.  9×13 – 40 minutes.

Almond Buttercream Frosting
frosts 80 cupcakes or 40 cupcakes generously

1 lb. (4 sticks) butter, unsalted and softened
1 lb. and 8 oz. powdered sugar  (sift if you need super smooth)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon meringue powder (optional, but I use this for any paid-for cake)
1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla (or clear vanilla)
1 and 1/2 teaspoons teaspoon almond extract
2-4 tablespoons whipping cream, half and half, or milk

1.  Beat the butter until lighter in color and fluffy.
2.  Turn mixer on low and slowly add the powdered sugar little by little.  Make sure most of the sugar is incorporated before adding more.
3.  Add salt, meringue powder, vanilla extract and almond extract.  Beat until combined.
4.  Add 2 tablespoons of cream.  Beat and see how stiff the frosting is.  For spreadable frosting that still holds a shape, I add about 3-4 tablespoons of cream.  Then, beat the frosting like crazy.  It will become almost white.
5.  Store in an airtight container until ready to use.  Keep at room temperature up to two days.  Keep in the refrigerator until the expiration on the butter expires.  Keep in the freezer up to one month.

Lightened Up Chocolate Frosting

Light Chocolate Frosting_1 on Whisk Together

Book Update:  I was chosen to make Spritz cookies for the holiday book for Heirloom’s Baking Sheet.  The recipe looks very pretty!

I started reading “The Rent Collector” by Camron Wright.  It is a captivating read and enjoying the first part of it  – which is sometimes the slow part of books.  The setting is a garbage dump in Cambodia.   In addition, Veronica Roth’s last book of the “Divergent” series comes out on October 22nd!  I can’t wait!  PLUS, “Ender’s Game” is FINALLY a movie!!!  It’s probably my favorite Young Adult Sci Fi book.  There had been rumors of a movie for years and finally they have the ball going and I believe it said the movie comes out in November.  If you like YA or Sci Fi at all, read “Ender’s Game”.

Recipe Update:  This chocolate cake is so moist and chocolatey that it really does not need a bunch of frosting.  I can barely eat half of the buttercream (or whatever stuff they use at grocery stores… I’m not sure it is really butter at all…) that stores place on their cupcakes.  It may look pretty, but makes me sick to my stomach sometimes.  So, I made this lightened up version of chocolate frosting to…  well… lighten it up a bit.  We all loved it.  Best chocolate cake recipe EVER.  I used Trader Joe’s natural cocoa I believe.  Quality cocoa makes a difference I think.

This was Juliana’s birthday cake.  She always requests chocolate cake… Actually, both kids do!

For the best chocolate cake and easiest cake ever, Click HERE.

Light Chocolate Frosting_7 on Whisk Together

Lightened Up Chocolate Frosting
covers 1- 9×13″ cake or 1 – double stacked 8″ or 9″ cake

4 ounces fat free or neufchatel cream cheese, soft
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, soft
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup cocoa (natural)
1/2-1 teaspoon espresso powder (optional)
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 cups powdered sugar
1-2 tablespoons milk, cream or half and half

1.  Beat the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy in a stand mixer.  About 2-3 minutes on medium speed.
2.  Add vanilla, cocoa, espresso powder (optional) and salt.  Beat until combined.
3.  While mixer is on LOW, add powdered sugar little by little until it is incorporated.
4.  Once all of the powdered sugar is in the butter mixture, add the milk in 1/2 tablespoon at a time.  Once the frosting is at a spreadable consistency (you want nice and spreadable for spreading or stiffer for decorating and piping), beat the frosting on medium to medium-high for 2 minutes.
5.  Use immediately, or store in the refrigerator for a few days.

Recipe adapted from “Cooking Light”

Pumpkin Coffeecake

Pumpkin Coffeecake_3 on WHisk TOgether

Book Update:  No books!  I have been working on a craft to share and revolutionize the kitchen!   Okay, no not really.  But, it did make my poor dining chairs look a lot nicer after 6 years of children in the house.

Our book club books for this month are “A Thousand Splendid Suns” and “The Rent Collector.”  Now, I did read “The Kite Runner” ages ago, but not his newer one “A Thousand Splendid Suns.”

Recipe:  This is probably one of the best coffeecake recipes I have tried.  It ties with the Lemon Blueberry Coffeecake from a couple years ago!!   I must stress though that it tastes TEN times better served warm.  Even slightly warm.  Once the cake hits room temperature, it seems ordinary.  Or, maybe I’m being weird.  But that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.  Serve it slightly warm.  Freeze the rest for later.  Do what makes you happy.  This cake will make you happy.  🙂

Pumpkin Coffeecake
serves 12

Topping:
1/2 cup (2.5 oz) flour
1/2 cup (3.75 oz) dark brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup (4T) butter, cold

Cake:
2 cups (10 oz.) AP flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup (3.75 oz.) dark brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil (or canola or grapeseed)
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup milk or buttermilk

Icing:
1 cup (120 grams) powdered sugar
1-2 Tb. of cream, milk and/or maple syrup

1.  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees or convection oven to 325 degrees.  Grease a 9×9 pan with cooking spray.

2.  Topping:  Mix together the dry stuff in a bowl – flour, dark brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt.  Cut the cold butter into cubes.  With your fingers, toss it into the dry mixture to make coarse crumbs.

3.  Cake:  Now use the “muffin method”!!   In a great big bowl, whisk together the dry stuff – flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.  In a not so great big bowl, whisk together the wet stuff: pumpkin, dark brown sugar, oil, maple syrup and milk.  Add wet stuff to dry stuff.  Using a spatula, stir just until barely combined.  A few flour specks poking through are okay.

4.  Assemble:  Pour the batter into the 9×9 pan.  Use your spatula to spread out the batter.   Top with the crumb topping.  Pop into the oven for 30-35 minutes.  Test with a toothpick in the middle and you should not see any crumbs or maybe just a little speck.

5.  Icing:  In a small bowl, pour in your powdered sugar.  Add your milk a little at a time until you get the consistency you like.  I like mine thick, so I used half cream and half maple syrup.  Milk will work great, too.  Then, drizzle onto warm cake.  To make pretty lines, put the icing in a ziplock bag and cut off one corner.  Squeeze out the icing onto the cake.

(I brought this to a meeting and since I was running late I only had time to use my phone camera)

Pumpkin Coffeecake4

Recipe adapted very slightly from Sally’s Baking Addiction

Carrot Cake and How to Make 6 Cakes in a Day

Carrot Cake_8 on Whisk Together

So… I got an email the other day asking for 6 cakes.  Carrot cakes.  The kind that requires lots of shredding of carrots and toasting of nuts.  Now I see why box mixes are sooooo convenient and desirable.  I think a box mix would have been about $3 and the crap frosting in a can about $2.  In total, the cake would have been $5.  Instead, I purchased real carrots, pecans, flour, containers, etc. which cost $53 total.  Just in case you ever need to make 6 carrot cakes from scratch, it will cost about $53 and that is with some Aldi staple ingredients like butter and cream cheese.  Aldi’s pecans are actually quite more expensive than the other grocery stores, so I got those elsewhere.

One hour of shredding carrots in the food processor and 30 minutes of toasting and chopping pecans, I had the hard part done.  How to make 6 cakes in less than a day?

Carrot Cake on Whisk Together

Here is how:
1.  The night before prep all the weird stuff like shredding carrots, chopping nuts or any extras you need for your cake.
2.  Measure out the dry ingredients into baggies.  Separate them if they go into the bowl at different times in the process.
3.  First thing in the morning, get the eggs out and milk to come to room temperature.
4.  Double any batches of batter or frosting if possible.  My mixer would not hold more than one 9×13 batch of batter, but will hold 1 lb. of butter/cream cheese frosting.
5.  Use disposable pans if possible.

I used my washed yogurt containers from Costco.  They make excellent containers for all sorts of things!
Carrot Cake_1 on Whisk Together   Carrot Cake_3 on Whisk Together

Here I put the sugar and spices in the plastic container and I put the flour and baking soda in a plastic bag.  One, because I didn’t have enough plastic containers.  And two, I could tell the difference easily between the two items when I went to making the cakes, so I don’t accidentally put more sugar in instead of flour.

 

Need cupcakes instead?  Try this recipe!  It was fabulous!  Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Carrot Cake
makes one 9×13 or two 8″ or 9″ rounds

1 and 1/2 cups vegetable or canola oil
2 cups (14 oz) sugar
4 large eggs
1 Tb. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking soda
2 cups (8.5 oz) AP flour
3 cups finely grated carrots
1 and 1/2 cups (5.75 oz) chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted

Frosting:
8 Tb. (1 stick) butter
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla
10-14 oz., (2 and 1/2 to 3 and 1/2 cups) powdered sugar   (I used 10 oz)
2-3 Tb. milk

1.  Prep your pan with cooking spray or Baker’s Joy.  Preheat oven to … you guessed it.. 350.

2.  In your mixer:  add oil, sugar, eggs and spices.  Beat until mixed.

3.  Then, add your salt, flour and baking soda.  Stir until just combined.

Carrot Cake_4 on Whisk Together

4.  Stir in your carrots and nuts.

Carrot Cake_5 on Whisk Together

5.  Add the batter to the pan and bake 35-40 minutes.  Cool cake.

Carrot Cake_7 on Whisk Together

Frosting:

1.  Beat your butter and cream cheese together.  It should be smooth and one homogeneous mixture.

2.  Add in the salt and vanilla.  Stir that in until mixed.

3.  With the mixer on LOW, add in your powdered sugar a little at a time.

4.  Once the powdered sugar is incorporated, add about 1 Tb or a little over 1 Tb of milk and beat it in the frosting.  Continue to add milk until you have a spreadable consistency.  Always start low on the milk amount.  It’s easier to add it in little by little than to add more sugar later because you added too much milk.

5.  Spread icing all over the cake.  If using a 9×13 pan, be sure to frost all the way around the sides.  This way the frosting will act like a barrier and keep the sides of the cake from drying out.

6.  Decorate with toasted pecans, cute little royal icing carrots, etc.  If you want cute little icing carrots, stock up at Michael’s at Easter time.  That is the only time they carry them according to the store clerk.

Carrot Cake_6 on Whisk Together

Recipe from King Arthur Flour

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