TWD: Dressy Chocolate Loaf Cake

I was a little shocked today when I realized that it has been two - yes, two! - months since I last posted. I mean I knew it had been a while but geez - time has really gotten away from me. Things always seem to speed up in the summer. Especially here in Chicago. We all wait the entire long, dark, dreary, freezing winter for that first glimpse of summer and when it comes - look out! There's a new energy in the city and so much to see and do.

Despite all of this, I have in fact been baking! I just haven't been posting. So its time to play catch up. Starting with this week's TWD post... which I had every intention of posting on time yesterday and just didn't get done.

This week's recipe was chosen by Amy Ruth of Amy Ruth Bakes. It features one of my favorite combinations - chocolate and raspberry - wrapped up in a sweet and surprisingly tangy loaf cake. Both the cake and the ganache-like frosting involve sour cream (I used the fat free version). The cake is very moist and dense. And I finally - FINALLY - didn't overcook it! I have this knack for always leaving things in just a touch too long - especially cakes.

The cake was delicious and could be adapted in lots of ways. I liked - but didn't love - the frosting. I'm really more of a buttercream girl. But it did complement the cake well. I had some leftover whipped cream that I spooned on top - ice cream would have been delicious, too. Be sure to check out Amy Ruth's blog for the recipe!


TWD rewind: mocha-walnut mabled bundt cake

A couple of weeks ago, Erin of When in Doubt... Leave it at 350 picked the mocha-walnut marbled bundt cake.

It's basically a walnut cake vanilla and mocha swirled layers. I used almonds instead of walnuts, and it turned out wonderfully. I didn't quite get the 'gingko leaf' pattern Dorie mentions...but oh well. Regular old swirl worked for me!

The cake was light and moist and the mocha swirl added just the right amount of richness. Almost like an almond pound cake but lighter. It stayed fresh for most of the week and was delicious with coffee. I left it plain, but this would have been great with a vanilla or mocha glaze. Or a scoop of ice cream! I was concerned my bundt pan was going to overflow (this makes a LOT of batter) so I made one jumbo muffin/cupcake - it was delicious that way, too!

TWD rewind: soft chocolate & raspberry tart

Waaay back on March 16th, Rachelle of Mommy? I'm Hungry! chose Dorie's soft chocolate and raspberry tart. Now normally I tend not to bake an entire tart. Why? Because I certainly don't need to EAT an entire tart! But as luck would have it, my fabulous mom came to visit that weekend, so I had someone to share it with :)

I only have an 11 inch tart pan (for some reason I couldn't find a 9 inch pan back when I needed one to bake the chocolate crunched caramel tart) so my tart is a little thinner than some. But overall it was delicious! I love chocolate and raspberry together - this was almost like chocolate mousse with raspberries... but it a light flaky tart crust. Yum!

I whipped up some homemade whipped cream and mom and I were set.
Be sure to check Rachelle's blog for the recipe... and the TWD blogroll for how the other bakers did!

TWD: sweet cream biscuits

It's a good thing I don't blog for a living like some of my fave bloggers out there.... for starters, I don't know how they come up with so many things to say! But I am also quite the delinquent blogger these days... and its not even that I haven't been baking! I just haven't been posting. So I'm playing catch up this weekend.

This week's TWD (which I baked last weekend, for the record) was sweet cream biscuits. And they were delicious. I love biscuits because they are good with so many things... I made them last Sunday to go with the sausages and veggies we grilled out on our new grill and then ate the rest with butter and jam for breakfast all week!

The biscuits were definitely best right out of the oven - super light and flaky - but they were good re-heated in the microwave, too. My biscuits didn't rise nearly as much as some of the other TWD bakers (I always seem to have that problem - over mixing maybe?) but they were still wonderful. And the best part was how simple they were. No carefully mixing in cold butter like most other biscuit recipes - just flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, & cream! I'll definitely be making these again!


MSC: jumbo cream-filled cupcakes

The 15th of the month always seems to sneak up on me. I was so excited to see these cupcakes as the April pick for MSC - thanks to Jen from Cookbook Habit! These cupcakes remind me of the classic Hostess cupcakes of my youth. I've seen variations of them on many blogs and always wanted to try them.

The cupcakes themselves weren't super chocolately... but I thought they were a nice compliment to the marshmallow filling. This was my first attempt at filling cupcakes - after the first couple I got the hang of it and it was pretty simple. Martha tells you to cut the cone shaped hole from the bottom - I've also seen it done from the top, which I think would be even easier. I added a simple chocolate ganache to make these more like the Hostess variety. The one thing I would change would be to use a regular buttercream or royal icing for the classic swirl on top. I used the marshmallow filling as suggested. They looked cute for about 10 minutes... then the marshmallow melted into a big blob on top of the cupcakes! Oh well, they still tasted good! I thought they were good chilled as well.


TWD: no toasted coconut custard tart here

After all that baking this weekend (I still have about 4 dozen cookies left in the kitchen!) I just couldn't bring myself to make the toasted coconut custard tart. It's a shame, because Mr. LITK loves coconut and this looks delicious! Check out Cinemon Girl for the recipe and I'll be back next week!


homemade samoas

Girl Scout cookies. They bring back so many memories. I remember one year when I was a kid, my mom volunteered to be the "cookie mom" for my girl scout troop. It meant that every single box of cookies sold by the girls in my troop got delivered to our house. My mom and I spent hours sorting the boxes into giant piles for each girl to come and pick up. I remember Girl Scout camp. And "crossing the bridge" (I think going from Brownie to Girl Scout?) Oh, and I remember when Girl Scout cookies were $2.00 a box!

Samoas are Mr. LITK's favorite Girl Scout cookie. So when I came across this recipe for homemade samoas bars, I knew I HAD to make them for his birthday a couple of weeks ago. They turned out really well - the cookie base was a little crumbly, but I think that's because I didn't have any eggs (are we noticing a trend here? I'm always halfway through a recipe before I realize I'm missing something!) I subbed in a little bit of applesauce, but I think they would have held together better with an egg.

Honestly, if I closed my eyes and ate one of these, I would swear I was eating a real GS cookie. They were really good - and Mr. LITK loved them, which was the important part! If you love samoas or know someone who does, I definitely recommend making these!

Homemade Samoas Bars
recipe adapted from Baking Bites

Cookie Base:
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350F.

Make the crust first by lightly greasing a 9×13-inch baking pan, or line with parchment paper.

In a large bowl of your stand mixer with the paddle attachment (I used a hand mixer), cream together sugar and butter, until fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla extract.

Working at a low speed, gradually beat in flour and salt until mixture is crumbly, like wet sand. The dough does not need to come together.

Pour crumbly dough into prepared pan and press into an even layer. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until base is set and edges are lightly browned. Cool completely on a wire rack before topping.

3 cups shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened - I used sweetened)
12-oz good-quality chewy caramels
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp milk
10 oz. dark or semisweet chocolate (I used chocolate chips)

In a dry non stick skillet over medium heat, add the coconut and toast on the stovetop. Be careful as they can toast up pretty quickly! Once toasted, set aside and allow to cool.

Unwrap the caramels and place in a large microwave-safe bowl with milk and salt. Cook on high for 3-4 minutes, stopping to stir a few times to help the caramel melt. When smooth, fold in toasted coconut with a spatula.

Put dollops of the coconut and caramel topping all over the cooled shortbread base. Using a small spatula, spread the topping into an even layer. Let topping set until cooled. When cooled, cut into 30 bars with a large knife or a pizza cutter (it’s easy to get it through the topping).

Once bars are cut, melt chocolate in a small bowl. Heat on high in the microwave in 45 second intervals, stirring thoroughly to prevent scorching. Dip the base of each bar into the chocolate and place on a clean piece of parchment or wax paper.

Transfer all remaining chocolate (or melt a bit of additional chocolate, if necessary) into a piping bag or a ziploc bag with the corner snipped off and drizzle bars with chocolate to finish.

Let chocolate set completely before storing in an airtight container.