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.

TWD: honey-wheat cookies

Last week Michelle of Flourchild picked Honey-Wheat Cookies for our weekly baking adventure. When I first read the recipe I was a little skeptical. No chocolate? No peanut butter? I'm not a huge fan of sugar cookies, and was concerned these were just a dressed up version. But I was wrong- these were fantastic! Light, chewy, the perfect hint of lemon... I'll definitely be making these again!

I couldn't find wheat germ at Dominick's, so I used oat bran - which I already had (I like adding oat bran of ground flaxseed to bread in the bread machine). It gave the cookies a wonderful chewy texture - and I loved how the dough is rolled in it before baking. The combination of honey and lemon was delicious and these would be perfect with a cup of tea!

TWD Rewind: Dorie's Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

For the February 16th TWD, Kait of Kait's Plate chose My Best Chocolate Chip Cookies. In my opinion, chocolate chip is the quintessential cookie. Warm chocolate chip cookies and a tall glass of milk - delish! Usually I stick with the recipe on the back of the Tollhouse bag... Dorie's is pretty similar, but I was excited for a little variety.

fter reading the P&Q, I decided to decrease the butter and increase the flour (both by 1/2 cup) as suggested by some of the other bakers. I like my cookies like I like my brownies: gooey and chewy. No crispy cookies here. Luckily Mr. LITK feels the same way... and chocolate chip cookies are his fave.

These turned out really well. They spread out quite a bit, but stayed chewy, even after a few days. This could definitely be my new go-to recipe!

TWD Rewind: Rick Katz's Brownies for Julia

Confession time. February came and went in the blink of an eye in the LITK household. There was a trip to NYC, a trip to Michigan, a visit from the in-laws, and 10 days of a terrible flu. So I've been a little behind in baking... until this weekend. I finally did some catching up and it's time for a blog update!

Back on February 9th Tanya of Chocolatechic chose Rick Katz's Brownies for Julia. I actually made these on time... but am just now getting around to posting! As far as brownies go, I am definitely in the gooey and fudgey camp. Have you ever seen that infomercial for the "perfect brownie pan"? The one that makes every single brownie an edge piece? That's my nightmare. Growing up, you could always tell when my brother and I had been in the brownies because there was a thin piece left all the way around the edge and the middle had been devoured. So I was excited for these brownies.

Overall they were good - rich and chewy. But I left them in the oven a little too long, so they weren't quite as gooey as I was hoping. Oh, and I was one egg short... so that might not have helped. I'll definitely make them again though!


TWD: milk chocolate mini bundt cakes

For this week's TWD recipe, Kristin of I'm Right About Everything chose Milk Chocolate Mini Bundt Cakes.

I'm all for mini desserts - I got a mini cupcake pan for Christmas and have used it 5 or 6 times already. But I don't have a mini bundt cake pan (although they do look super cute). I have to draw the line somewhere and Mr. LITK simply wouldn't tolerate many more baking supplies!

I made half of the recipe and baked it in two ramekins. At one point I thought they were going to overflow, but they fell in on themselves a little bit and turned out just fine. The cake was light and moist... although I have to say, I prefer a regular chocolate cake to milk chocolate. The only problem I had was with the glaze. I should have just used the melted chocolate chips, but the recipe calls for the addition of light corn syrup. When I added the corn syrup I wound up with more of a fudge texture. I tried microwaving it a little longer but no luck. So I just plopped a scoop of chocolate on top of each cake. Next time I'd stick with the melted chocolate. And sorry for the terrible picture quality... Mr. LITK and I have recently discovered "24" and started watching it with Season 1 (thank you Netflix!) so I was a little distracted...


TWD: cocoa-nana bread

Banana bread is a staple in the LITK home. Well actually, banana bread muffins. I make them regularly as an easy grab-and-go breakfast. And I always ALWAYS add chocolate chips! So I was surprised when I read the P&Q this week and learned that lots of TWD bakers were trying to figure out what to sub in for the bananas! Really?! Chocolate and banana is a winning combo in my book. Remember those chocolate covered frozen bananas? Yum.

The other great thing about this recipe? I had all the ingredients already. Frozen bananas in the freezer? Check. Cocoa powder? Check. Semi-sweet chocolate? Checkity-check. One thing I did sub was applesauce for the stick of butter. But I almost always use applesauce in place of butter or oil (sometimes even for eggs) in things like banana bread. Keeps it moist and helps reduce the fat and calories.

The bread was rich and chocolately. I used two large bananas, which gave it just enough banana flavor. I think I could have baked it just a little less because the sides and bottom were a little overdone... but the inside was moist and delicious! Overall this was a great alternative to standard banana bread! Be sure to check out Obsessed with Baking for the quick and easy recipe!

TWD (belated): chocolate oatmeal almost-candy bars

So I'm a week late in posting these... I even had them made ahead of time! But work was crazy last week and before I knew it Tuesday had come and gone without a post. Le sigh. These had the potential to be delicious... a combination of oatmeal cookie crust, creamy chocolate center, and more oatmeal cookie on top. While they turned out ok, I definitely was unprepared...

I halved the recipe and made it in an 8" pan. Mistake #1 was that I forgot to add the egg to the cookie layer. So instead of a nice oatmeal cookie (I left out the peanuts) I got more of an oatmeal crumble. I tasted ok, but was on the dry side. Mistake #2 was that I didn't have an sweetened condensed milk. Which I didn't realize until I was in the middle of baking on Sunday night. So I thought I'd try using regular milk and sugar. I figured half the amount of milk would be ok. But then I forgot I was already halving the recipe... so my milk, sugar, and chocolate chips turned into hot chocolate. And I was out of chocolate chips. Then, in the back of the cabinet, I discovered some mini chocolate chips. Not quite enough, but it would have to do. I added just a splash of milk, some sugar, and peanut butter to make it a little thicker and creamier. I then stirred in the raisins and chopped almonds. It was yummy, but they definitely could have used more filling.

All in all not bad, but definitely not as good as they could have been! Check out Confectiona's Realm for the recipe and the TWD blogroll for some more more successful outcomes!


MSC: Coconut Cupcakes

After missing the December MSC pick (Gingerbread cupcakes - yum!) I am back in action with January's cupcake - coconut. The cupcake itself has finely ground shredded coconut and coconut milk, while the frosting calls for coconut extract. I didn't have coconut milk or extract and we're on a little bit of a budget in the LITK household... so I used regular milk and added extra shredded coconut to the batter. I made a simple vanilla buttercream for the frosting and topped them with more shredded coconut. I only made 1/4 of the recipe and I got 12 mini cupcakes out of it. The cupcakes were really moist with a nice coconut flavor. Mr. LITK gave them a rave review -- he said these are the best cupcakes I've ever made! You just can't go wrong with Martha.

Thanks to Jen from
Cinema Cupcakes for a great pick! You can find the recipe on pages 28-29 of Martha Stewart's Cucpakes. Up next month - s'mores cupcakes!


TWD: Mrs. Vogel's Scherben

This week's TWD had me a little nervous. Mrs. Vogel's Scherben is kind of like little pieces of funnel cake. Except not quite as sweet and not as light and flaky. But fried none the less.

My concern stems from an incident last year... a kitchen blunder of sorts. Let's just say I was trying to fry something (I can't even remember what now!) and nearly set the kitchen on fire. There were flames. And they were several feet tall (ok, maybe more like a foot, but pretty scary). I nearly burned the heck out of the kitchen as well as my arm. It was no good, no good at all. I haven't tried to fry anything since!

Had I read the P&Q this week, I probably would have tried the baking method suggested by several other bakers. But I didn't, so frying it was! The dough is simple and came together quickly. It does have to chill twice, so I made it last night and let it sit in the fridge until this evening. The only problem I ran into was that I put my dough on wax paper... and it stuck! I had to scrape my pieces off, so they didn't exactly turn out as beautifully as Dorie's! But they still tasted pretty good. Nice and crispy, especially when they cool. The dough was pretty bland, so it needed lots of cinnamon and sugar.

Thanks to Teanna of
Spork of Foon? for this week's pick! The recipe is posted on her blog - which is super cute.


TWD: Cocoa-Buttermilk Birthday Cake

Happy 2010!

Two years ago this week, Laurie of Slush posted about a fabulous cookbook she received for Christmas. She decided to bake her way through the book, one recipe at a time, and she asked if anyone wanted to join her. What started out as a few bloggers chatting about recipes and comparing tips and tricks has evolved into a huge online baking group. Although I've only been baking along for a few months now, it's been a lot of fun and has inspired me to try things in the kitchen that I might not have otherwise! It's also inspired me to want to learn to take better photos... something I'll talk about in an upcoming post!

So happy birthday
Tuesdays with Dorie! And thanks to Laurie for a fabulous idea and the dedication and enthusiasm to share it with the rest of us! I think it just goes to show that you never know how far something you start can reach... an inspiring thought for the year ahead.

For this week's recipe, Laurie picked two (based on votes from the group) and allowed us to choose which one we wanted to try. Although Tarte Tatin sounds oh-so-french and fabulous (especially since I just watched Julie and Julia last weekend!) I had to go with the Cocoa-Buttermilk Birthday Cake. It's just so appropriate for a celebration and for ringing in the new year.

I made only a quarter of the recipe... which made 12 mini cupcakes. I got a mini cupcake pan for Christmas (thanks, Mom!) and was looking for any excuse to try it out. And frankly I just love mini desserts. Why is it that eating two or three mini desserts feels so much better for you than one full size dessert?! The cake turned out light and fluffy, but a little crumbly. The recipe calls for a chocolate malt frosting, which sounds delish, but I didn't have any malted milk powder. So I whipped up a quick peanut butter buttercream instead. Chocolate and pb is a favorite combination in the LITK household! The cupcakes turned out great... although I just might have eaten most of them myself.

TIP: I didn't have any buttermilk, so I tried a tip I've read on several blogs. I poured a little white vinegar in my measuring cup, then filled it to the needed level with milk. I let that sit for about 10 minutes while I did the rest of the mixing. Buttermilk is just curdled milk, and the acidity is the vinegar apparently creates the same reaction! (I've also read you can use lemon juice... to make one cup of "buttermilk" use 1 T.vinegar or lemon juice and fill to the one cup line with milk!) It worked like a charm... and much easier than keeping buttermilk on hand.