Saturday, November 24, 2012

Candy Cornucopia

Thanksgiving was two days ago, but tomorrow I'll bring these cute little treats to my kindergartners in Sunday School.  We can still give thanks for all that the Lord has blessed us with, regardless of which day it is!

The cornucopia is also known as "the horn of plenty", shown as a horn-shaped basket which is overflowing with harvest vegetables and breads. 

These little treats are ice cream cones ("sugar cones") filled with fruit and vegetable shaped candies!!

See the curved tip of the ice cream cone?    To achieve that shape, begin by heating up your tea kettle with some water until it's boiling.  Stick the end of the ice cream cone down into the spout.  Leave it for about a minute, pull it out, and gently bend the tip of the cone.  The steam will have softened the cone enough to make it pliable.  Set the cone on a cooling rack to firm up again.  Repeat with the remaining cones.

These are the candies I used to fill our cornucopia.   (I ended up not using the orange candy slices because they are too big.)

Fill the cones with the candies, and tie them up in cellophane baggies.

Attach curling ribbon and a tag if desired.

Make these cute little treats *next* Thanksgiving for your children or grandchildren!   (Forgive me for being a week late for this year!)

Chewy Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Thank you, Food Network, for the best chocolate chip cookie recipe I've ever baked!  Truly, these cookies are soft and filled with chocolate chunks.  

I've always preferred soft cookies to crunchy ones, especially when it comes to chocolate chip cookies.  I've tried oodles of recipes, and I think this is finally The One.

I found it on the Food Network website, here.   The only modifications I made were that I used light brown sugar instead of dark, and semi-sweet chocolate chunks instead of chips.

I made these cookies jumbo sized for a friend whose turn it was to bring birthday treats to work.   I used a 1/4 cup cookie scoop to portion out the refrigerated dough.   (That's the trick to having soft cookies---chilled dough!)

Make sure you leave plenty of room for the cookies to spread out a little bit.   Cool on the pan for a few minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.   Or eat a few while still warm.  Ohhh, so good!

Chewy Chocolate Chunk Cookies

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cups packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Sift the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda together into a large bowl.

Beat the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar in a bowl with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 4 minutes (use the paddle attachment for a stand mixer). Beat in the eggs one at a time, then beat in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low. Add the flour mixture and beat until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand. Press plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the dough and refrigerate at least 1 hour or preferably overnight.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Drop heaping tablespoonfuls of dough onto the prepared baking sheets, about 2 inches apart. Bake until the cookies are golden around the edges but still soft in the middle, about 12 minutes. Remove the cookies from the oven and let cool 10 minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer to racks to cool completely.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Cub Scout Camping Cake

With inspiration from several cakes I saw online, this camping turned out adorable!!  The tents are made with rolled fondant over graham crackers.  The pine trees are ice cream cones piped with buttercream.  The pond is rolled fondant, as well as the fire pit logs.  The stones surrounding the pond and fire are chocolate covered raisins.

My friend said the cub scout boys were thrilled with the cake, and loved eating the trees, tents, pond, and fire!

TWD: Best Ever Brownies

I admit it.  I have a ton of brownie recipes.  Many of them claim to be the best ever.   Fudgey brownies.  Cake-like brownies.  Brownies with a caramel layer.  Turtle Brownies.  Cheesecake brownies.  Mint brownies.  Peanut Butter filled brownies.    Yes, I've made them all!

Now, this recipe from Baking With Julia is truly, without comparison, the *most* fudgey brownie I've ever baked and eaten!  Wow.  Super fudgey, bordering on not-all-the-way-baked.  BUT SO GOOD!!!

Nut-less, caramel-less, cheesecake and peanut butter-less.  These are straight-out FUDGE brownies.

This recipe does not have any leavener.  No baking soda or baking powder.  The batter gets its volume from whipping the eggs and a cup of sugar until they're thick and pale in color.  They are then gently folded into the chocolate, butter, and remaining sugar, which have been melted on the stove.  Finally, the flour and salt are folded in.  The batter is poured into an eight or nine inch square baking dish and carefully timed to reach the ultimate level of fudgyness, approximately 25 minutes.

The result? 

You got it.  Fudgy gooey brownies that are so sinfully rich you truly can only eat one.  Well, at a sitting.  A few hours later you'll go back for another.  Pour yourself a tall glass of cold milk, too!  You'll need it!

Our family of six sure enjoyed these treats for dessert last night!    I hope you give them a try too.  To find the recipe, please visit Monica of A Beautiful Mess, our hostess for the week on Tuesdays With Dorie.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Giant Ho Ho Cake

Did your mom buy you Ho Ho snack cakes as a child?  What about Twinkies?   Or Oatmeal Creme Pies?  Or those Fudge Rounds with the squiggly lines of chocolate frosting on top?   I think those were my favorites.

My mom bought them for us occasionally.   They were such a treat!

Am I a bad mom if I've never bought them for my children??   Okay, I take that back.  I think I've bought Oatmeal Creme Pies once or twice, but that's it.

It's not like my children are deprived of sweets, believe me.  And it's not that I think those treats are horribly bad for children to eat on occasion.  It's that I bake treats all the time!    There's no need for me buy sweets treats when there are freshly made ones in the pantry.  :)

This, friends, is a Ho ho cake.  A giant Ho Ho.  Chocolate Cake rolled up with a fluffy white filling, covered in a chocolately glaze.  Oh my.

I found the recipe for a Chocolate Cake Roll on the Kraft website.   I've simply renamed it Giant Ho Ho Cake!

The batter is spread into a wax-paper-lined jelly roll pan, baked, then rolled up in a clean tea cloth that has been dusted generously with powdered sugar.

The fluffy filling is a simple mixture of Cool Whip, cream cheese, and powdered sugar.  Magical stuff.   The cake is unrolled gently, but even with the most care, the cake will likely split.  I don't know how to prevent this.  Every time I make a jelly roll type of cake, this happens.  It doesn't really matter much.  The filling is like glue and holds the cake together!

Once the filling is spread, the cake is rolled up again.   (See the crack in my cake??)

The glaze is a mixture of semi-sweet baking chocolate, butter, and Cool Whip which are melted together and cooled.   This is a ganache-like glaze that thickens as it cools, and is then spreadable.

The cake is refrigerated for at least an hour, then cut into slices.   (I use my electric knife----it makes perfect slices every time!)

Arrange the pretty slices on a serving plate.  Serve with tall glasses of cold milk.  Reminisce about after school snacks when you were a child, sitting at the kitchen table with your mom, telling her about all the kids who got in trouble at school that day and how you were the only one who didn't.  ;)


Giant Ho Ho Cake
(otherwise known as Chocolate Cake Roll, by Kraft)

6 squares Baker's Semi-Sweet Chocolate, divided
6 Tbsp. butter
1 cup granulated sugar
4 eggs
1 cup flour, divided
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2/3 cup water
4 oz Cream Cheese, softened
3/4cup  powdered sugar, divided
3 cups  thawed Cool Whip Whipped Topping, divided

Heat oven to 350°F.  Spray a 15x10x1-inch pan with cooking spray. Line with waxed paper; spray with additional cooking spray.  Microwave 3 chocolate squares and butter in medium microwaveable bowl on High 1-1/2 to 2 min. or until butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Add granulated sugar; mix well. Beat eggs in large bowl with mixer on high speed 3 min. or until thickened. Blend in chocolate mixture. Add 1/4 cup flour and baking soda; beat just until blended. Add remaining flour alternately with water, beating well after each addition. Spread evenly into prepared pan. 

Bake 15 min. or until top of cake springs back when touched; sprinkle with 1/4 cup powdered sugar. Immediately invert cake onto clean towel; remove pan. Carefully peel off paper. Starting at one short side, roll up cake and towel together; cool completely on wire rack. 

Beat cream cheese and remaining powdered sugar in medium bowl with mixer until well blended. Gently stir in 1-1/2 cups Cool Whip.

Unroll cake carefully; remove towel. Spread cream cheese mixture onto cake, completely covering top of cake. Roll up cake; place, seam-side down, on platter.

Microwave remaining chocolate and remaining Cool Whip in microwaveable bowl on high 1 to 1-1/2 min. or until chocolate is completely melted and mixture is well blended, stirring after 1 min. Cool 2 min.; spread onto cake. Refrigerate 1 hour before slicing and serving.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

TWD: Buttermilk Crumb Muffins

I bake muffins frequently, and while these are tasty, I'll say they are far from one of my favorites.   I made jumbo muffins, which are double-sized, so perhaps that affected how they baked;  all of my muffins sank in the centers!

The tops were the best part, crispy like a cookie.  (My kids especially enjoyed "peeling" the tops off of their muffins and eating the crunchy part first!)

The muffin is cinnamony and sweet, and crumb topping is tasty......but overall, this is just an "okay" muffin.

Today's Tuesdays With Dorie hostess is Alisa of Easier Than Pie.  Please visit her lovely blog for the recipe!  Hopefully you will have better luck than I!