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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

WHIP IT UP!

My apologies to Melody Parks for calling this post WHIP IT UP (and having the nerve to post it on a Wednesday)!   AM I INSANE?  I thought it would be fun to share a few recipes before the holidays and couldn't get this post title out of my head. :)  Have you ever asked someone for a recipe, and they wouldn't share it with you?  In my opinion, there is nothing worse.  Here are a few of my favorites that I bake for family and friends this time of year.  Feel free to share!


CHOCOLATE CAKE

3 c flour
2 c sugar
½ c cocoa
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 tbs. white vinegar
2 tsp. vanilla
2 c water
1 c oil (I use canola or a blend of vegetable oils)

Sift dry ingredients and then add liquids.  Mix together with a paddle attachment, if you have a choice.  Pour into 2 – 8 inch pans for a layer cake or a 9 x 13 that you either greased or lined with parchment paper.  Bake for 35 to 40 minutes in a pre-heated oven at 350 degrees.  I usually start checking with a toothpick at 35 minutes.  You want it clean, but crumbs are acceptable – wet batter on the toothpick is not.  Seriously, that’s it.
Notice - there are no eggs in this recipe.  But the oil and vinegar combination creates a delicious, moist cake.  You can use dark cocoa or regular.  I usually use regular, but I have had requests for dark.  Basically, they taste the same – the difference is in the color.  Cool and serve.  It freezes well, too.  It’s good as a stand-alone, but I’ve also used it in my chocolate-kahlua trifle when I didn’t have brownies available.  Seriously, everyone should have brownies or chocolate cake in their freezer, just in case of an emergency.
This cake really doesn’t need frosting – but I have used chocolate, cream cheese or German chocolate.  I prefer chocolate.  This one calls for melted butter, so it will be soft.  Everything doesn’t have to be hard to be delicious! :)

CHOCOLATE FROSTING

1 stick of unsalted butter
2/3 c cocoa
3 c powdered sugar
1/3 c milk
1 tsp. vanilla
Melt butter and alternate powdered sugar, milk and cocoa.  Stir in vanilla.  Sometimes I add more cocoa to make the frosting darker, but remember, that will cause it to dry it out a little more.  So, adjust to your own taste.  If you have the choice, whip with a wire whisk attachment.  It will be creamier.
Yields – 2 cups of frosting. 

CHOCOLATE KAHLUA TRIFLE

1 9 x 13 chocolate cake
2 small pkgs. instant chocolate pudding mix
2 large tubs of whipped topping 
1 cup of Kahlua
4 cups of milk (you can add less for a thicker pudding layer)
1 pkg. of Heath Bar Bits (or smash up about 6 bars)
I chocolate candy bar

You can use chocolate cake or brownies in this recipe.  Prepare pudding as directed on the box, but if you are adding Kahlua (and I highly recommend that you do) then you will need to cut back on at least one cup of milk.  Start with 2 cups of milk and 1 cup of Kahlua before making the decision to add more milk to the mix.  If you put this together a day ahead, it will thicken - so keep that in mind.

This is really a beautiful presentation when prepared in a large glass bowl, but I have also put together mini versions in martini glasses.  Start with chunks of cake or brownies, spread a layer of pudding, sprinkle a handful of candy bits and lather on the whipped topping.  Repeat the process until you finish with a layer of whipped topping and sprinkle the candy bits as decoration.  You can also shave a chocolate bar with a potato peeler for curls on the top.

It is a serious Christmas Eve crowd pleaser!!  

BROWNIES

1 lb. unsalted butter
1 lb. plus 12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
6 oz. bitter chocolate
6 extra large eggs
2 T pure vanilla extract
2 ¼ c sugar
1 ¼ c flour
1 T baking powder
1 tsp. salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Line a 12 x 18 x 1 baking sheet with parchment paper (if you make half of this recipe, it fits nicely in a 9 x 13 pan)

Melt butter, 1 lb. chocolate chips and bitter chocolate.  Cool to room temperature.  In large bowl, mix together eggs, vanilla and sugar.  Stir the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture.  In medium bowl, sift 1 cup of flour, baking powder and salt. Mix everything together.  Add ¼ cup of flour and 12 oz. of chocolate chips to chocolate mixture.  Pour into pan and bake 20 minutes, then tap pan against the rack to let any air out.  Bake 15 minutes more – don’t over bake.  Cool until chilled (overnight) then cut when cold.

It’s more work than a box brownie, but so worth it!

PUMPKIN BREAD

3 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
2/3 c water
2 cups canned pumpkin
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. nutmeg
3 cups white sugar
1 cup oil
4 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cream sugar and oil then add eggs followed by water.  Mix all dry ingredients together.  Slowly add dry ingredients to wet mixture and alternate with canned pumpkin.  Grease and flour 2 standard size bread pans.  Bake one hour or until toothpick comes out clean.

I have two sons.  One likes this in the form of a bread that he can slice and slather with cream cheese.  The other prefers that I make muffins with the batter (use an ice cream scoop to measure batter for a good-size muffin).  Either way, it is a delicious and easy recipe.  In case you decide to go for the muffins, I have a favorite cream cheese frosting to smooth over the top.

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

2 pkg. cream cheese (softened)
2 pkg. butter (softened)
1 2 lb bag of powdered sugar
4 tsp. clear vanilla

Blend cream cheese, butter and vanilla in mixer (use your wire whisk attachment if you have an industrial mixer) then slowly add sugar.  This is a very soft frosting, so it needs to be refrigerated for several hours to take it to a spreading consistency.  It freezes well and is also delicious on the chocolate cake.  Make sure you soften the butter and cream cheese so that you don't have a lumpy frosting.  The purpose of the clear vanilla is to keep the frosting white, but sometimes I use real vanilla and no one ever complains.  I once had a comment that you could eat this frosting on cardboard.  It doesn't take much to make me happy. :)   

CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

Last, but certainly not least, I'm sharing the recipe for my homemade chocolate chip cookies.  Go ahead and laugh - but people seem to really like this recipe, and it is a little different from what you've seen on the bag of chocolate chips.   Here's the secret:  I add an additional 1/4 cup of flour and use BOTH baking powder and baking soda.  I prepare the dough a day in advance - and roll into balls before baking.

2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 cup shortening
3/4 c white sugar
3/4 c packed dark brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 extra large eggs
12 oz. pkg. semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Beat shortening, sugars and vanilla until creamy.  Add eggs and finally combine flour mixture.  Stir in chocolate chips and roll into uniform balls.  Bake on parchment paper until golden brown on top.  In case you're interested - I roll a heaping tablespoon of batter.  I happen to like a large cookie. :)

Note:  Most people prefer to bake cookies with butter, but (IMHO) butter just isn't better in this case.   Naturally, these are best right out of the oven! 


Enjoy ~ shelly :)

 


















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