Darkly Chocolate Sheet Cake with Fudge Frosting

I had the end of a bag of powdered sugar and a little less than a cup of buttermilk. All I could think of to use them both was frosting but what to frost? I didn’t want to fuss with cake pans or layers so I went with a super easy chocolate sheet pan recipe.

The coffee makes it seem even more chocolately. By adding a full cup, the cake is super moist and tender.

The creme de cacao reduces the sweetness of the frosting. Be sure and add it after you’ve pulled the frosting from the heat as you don’t want to burn it all off.

An easy and delicious cake recipe. I definitely recommend it!

Darkly Chocolate Sheet Cake

2 sticks unsalted butter
½ cup Dutch process or natural unsweetened cocoa
1 cup hot coffee
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups granulated sugar
½ cup buttermilk, at room temperature
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 9″ x 13″ pan.

Melt the butter in a double boiler. Stir in the cocoa and hot coffee.

Sift together the flour, soda, and salt. Place in the bowl of stand mixer with the sugar.

Pour the cocoa butter mixture over the dry ingredients. Mix on low until combined. Beat in the buttermilk, eggs and vanilla. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake the cake for 30 minutes, or until it tests done with a toothpick. When done, the cake will begin to pull away from the edge of the pan. Remove the cake from the oven and cool it on a rack.

I use a tall sided pan for baking the cake so that when I pour over the warm frosting, it doesn’t make a mess.

Fudge Frosting

8 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ cup Dutch process or natural unsweetened cocoa
6 tablespoons buttermilk, at room temperature
3 ¼ cups confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon creme de cacoa

Melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan. Stir in the cocoa and buttermilk.

Bring the mixture to a boil, then remove it from the heat and mix in the confectioners’ sugar and creme de cacoa, beating until smooth.

Pour the frosting over the cake while the frosting is still warm. Serve the cake right from the pan.

Chocolate Chip Snickers Cookies

I was really craving chocolate and was happily munching on a Fun-sized Snickers when my hind brain went, “Wait just a minute! Why don’t you put one of those in a chocolate chip cookie?”

I love my brain.

I cut each fun size I could rescue from the maw of my parents into 6 pieces. I ended up with a cup of Snickers pieces.

Definitely refrigerate the dough, as it will spread a bit more when it isn’t cold, making for thinner, less chewy cookies.

The cookies are really good – the caramel and nuts was a lovely addition.

Chocolate Chip Snickers Cookies

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 cup bittersweet chocolate morsels
1 cup fun-sized Snickers, each candy cut into 6 pieces

Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in small bowl. Set aside.

Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and Snickers.

Cover bowl with plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator for 1 hour. It can be stored for up to 3 days before use.

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Drop rounded tablespoon of cookie dough onto ungreased baking sheets.

Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 1 minute; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

 

Grilled and Filled Pears

I fired up the grill to do steaks for my Dad for Father’s Day and decided that we’d go pear shaped for dessert. I like baked pears (and apples) and figured wood smoke would be a delicious addition.

Not really knowing too much about pears, I just picked up some firm ones from the grocery. You need them to keep their shape, so don’t choose soft ones.

I filled the pears with a sweetened and flavored cream cheese, that I rolled into balls and then rolled the balls in chopped pecans.

Once the steaks were grilled and were resting, I put the pears on to get grill marks. I then closed off the vents and let the pears roast in a pan above the dying fire while we ate. Once we finished and the plates cleared, I pressed in the nut ball and served the grilled and filled pears.

Very simple and quite tasty!

Grilled and Filled Pears

3 pears
2 tablespoons lemon juice mixed with 2 tablespoons water
4 ounces of cream cheese, softened
¼ cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup pecans, finely chopped
2 tablespoons butter

Cut pears in half and core. Rub the exposed surface with diluted lemon juice to keep from browning.

Combine cream cheese, brown sugar and cinnamon. Roll into balls the size of the cored cavities and then roll the ball in chopped pecans. Place into the fridge.

Place pear halves cut side down on the grill grates and roast for 5 minutes. Drop the butter into the aluminum pan and let melt. Use tongs to remove the halves to the pan and rub the cut sides in the butter. Leave the pears butter side down and place the pan on the grill away from the coals and continue to roast until tender, about 15 minutes more or until pears have softened and yield gently when squeezed.

When the pears are done, remove the nut balls from the fridge. Flip over the pears and press a nut ball into the cored cavity of each pear half. You can leave the pears on the fire to stay warm or remove pan from the grill and serve.

Reimagining Joy (With Pecans)

I’m not above scarfing down many of the candy bars that populate the displays near cash registers. Including Almond Joy. However, I’m a southern girl who prefers pecans over every other nut and so, when I made these at home, I used toasted pecans instead.

I looked up several recipes on the internet but went with the one my friend, Conan, sent to me. This one didn’t enrobed them in chocolate – just put everything together and let the morsels work their magic with the pecans, coconut and sweetened condenses milk.

A quick and easy recipe that is very addicting.

Pecan Joy

14 ounces shredded, sweetened coconut
14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
2 cups bittersweet chocolate morsels
1 cup toasted and salted pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, mix the coconut, sweetened condensed milk, chocolate chips and pecans. Stir until combined.

Using a small ice cream scoop, press together portions of the mix onto the parchment covered baking sheets. Use damp fingers to push everything together into a tidy round.

Bake for 17-20 minutes, rotating the baking sheets midway through baking. The pecan joys will be done when the edges and bottom turn golden brown.

Cool on a rack and store in an airtight container.

Small Batch Banana Pudding

Only have a couple of over ripe bananas but really want banana pudding? Here is a recipe that works with only a couple of bananas and serves 4.

I like to wait until the bananas are getting rather brown and then mash them with a fork to mix in with the pudding. It makes for better banana taste throughout the dish, too.

Very tasty!

Small Batch Banana Pudding

¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
dash of salt
2 eggs, separated
1 cup milk
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 overripe bananas, mashed with a fork
about 20 Nilla Wafers

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine ¼ cup sugar, flour and salt in top of double boiler. Stir in 2 egg yolks and milk. Whisk to combine. Cook, uncovered, over boiling water, stirring constantly until thickened, about 10 minutes.

Beat egg whites on high speed until they begin to thicken. Add the 2 tablespoons sugar and continue to beat until soft peaks form.

Remove pudding from heat; add vanilla and mashed banana. Stir well.

Crumble up 10 Nilla Wafers and scatter in the bottom of 4 medium ramekins. Place 4 whole Nilla Wafers along the outside.

Spoon banana pudding evenly between the four ramekins. Place meringue on top, spreading to the edge to cover the pudding. Crumble four more wafers and sprinkle over the top of the meringue.

Place ramekins on a baking tray and bake in an oven for 10 minutes. Let cool before putting in the refrigerator to chill completely before serving.

Red Velvet Cupcakes

My favorite cake is Red Velvet with chocolate cream cheese frosting. Not only is it a beautiful color (also my favorite), it is so soft – one might even say velvety. It is not the deepest chocolate (that would be this cake) but, with the cocoa in the frosting, it is just enough.

I am making my own birthday cupcakes (or, as my friend Charlotte calls them, fucupcakes) this year as I’m isolating with my folks and to say they aren’t bakers would be putting it mildly.

For the last couple of trips to the grocery I saw very low supplies of all purpose flour. I was able to grab a box of cake flour and it gave a very nice and fine texture to the final product.

I only use a 1 ounce bottle of red food coloring because I use Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa and it already has a brick redish color. You can use more food coloring if you want a more vibrant red but, as you can see from the two cupcakes I haven’t fully frosted, they’ve got plenty of color.

So yummy! Such a happy birthday to me!

Cake:

2 cups sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 eggs
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 to 2 ounces red food coloring
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon vinegar

Frosting:

2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese
2 sticks butter, softened
3 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
¼ cup cocoa
1 teaspoon Creme de Cacao liquor or vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a mixing bowl, cream the sugar and butter, beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and mix well after each addition. Mix cocoa and food coloring together and then add to sugar mixture; mix well. Sift together flour and salt. Add flour mixture to the creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk. Blend in vanilla. In a small bowl, combine baking soda and vinegar and add to mixture.

Divide the batter evenly among the muffin tins lined with cupcake cups about 2/3 filled. Bake in oven for about 20 to 22 minutes, turning the pans once, half way through. Test the cupcakes with a toothpick for doneness. Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting.

Frosting: Sift together the confectioners’ sugar and cocoa. In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla together until smooth. Add the sugar and on low speed, beat until incorporated. Increase the speed to high and mix until very light and fluffy.

Triple Chocolate Fudge Brownies

I’m at that point in my cycle and isolation that I’m beyond a simple chocolate craving. Regular brownies wouldn’t touch this need. A chocolate baking bar, cocoa and some some chocolate morsels hit the spot, though.

So good. Deeply, darkly chocolate with a lovely chew. Pecans are optional, of course, but they add so much beyond flavor!

Triple Chocolate Fudge Brownies

1 ½ sticks unsalted butter
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa
2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup pecans, chopped
1 cup bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate morsels

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Generously butter a 9×13 pan. For thick brownies, use an 8×8 pan.

Melt butter and chocolate on low heat on the stovetop in a double boiler. Remove from heat and pour into a stand mixer. One at a time, whisk in cocoa, sugar, eggs, vanilla, flour and salt. Mix well. Stir in pecans and chocolate morsels. Pour into prepared pan. Smooth the top of the batter.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until edges are set and center is a bit soft. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out with a little batter coating it.

Cool at room temperature. Remove from pan. Serve at room temperature.

Brownies can be refrigerated if you’re stuck in isolation alone and don’t want to eat the entire right away or frozen for up to a month.

 

Strawberry Shortcake

I found some Louisiana strawberries on sale on my last grocery run so I bought several packages for us and the neighbors. Now, I have a craving for strawberry shortcake.

I confess I’m going to cheat and use frozen biscuits. You could, of course, make your own. I’ve got a few recipes that you can use – Recipe or this Recipe . Or use your favorite recipe.

I did the slicing and sugaring the strawberries as soon as I got home. If you do it the night before, they will get super juicy. Doing the prep early also helps the dessert come together quickly before serving. But even in the 20 minutes it took my biscuits to go from frozen to baked, the strawberries released plenty of liquid.

If you don’t want to adultify your whipped cream, add a teaspoon of vanilla instead.

Super strawberry flavor and the light orange flavor to the whipped cream is great.

Strawberry Shortcakes

1 lb (about 2 cups when sliced) fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
1/4 cup sugar
6 biscuits
1 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons Grand Mariner

In large bowl, mix strawberries and 1/4 cup sugar; set aside to macerate. The sugar will draw the moisture out of the fruit, creating a sweetly fruity syrup.

Make biscuits if you’re doing so. Warm them if already made. Cut in half.

Using a mixer, beat the heavy cream and sugar until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes. Add in liquor and beat for a minute more.

Spoon some of the strawberries with their juice onto each shortcake bottom. Top with a generous dollop of whipped cream and a few more strawberry and then the shortcake top. Spoon more strawberries and their juices over the top and then a final layer of whipped cream.
Enjoy!

Chocolate Pecan Truffle Cookies

I owed my friend Charlotte some cookies and her only request was chocolate and pecans. I browsed through my recipes and decided to go sinfully decadent with truffle cookies. These are soft cookies with such a rich flavor of chocolate from the melted to the added chips. I’ve got to say the addition of toasted, chopped pecans to them are a real treat.

I used Ghirardelli bittersweet and semi-sweet baking chips in this recipe. I love the taste and texture they add to the cookies.

I really like the flakes in Maldon Sea Salt, so that it what I used to sprinkle on top. A crisp bite of salt in each large flake, so you use a smaller amount than with a less coarse sea salt.

Darkly rich with a soft texture, these are definitely the cookie for chocolate lovers.

Chocolate Pecan Truffle Cookies

3 cups bittersweet morsels
4 tablespoon unsalted butter
½ cup all purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
1 cup semisweet morsels, for mixing into the prepared cookie dough
2 -3 tablespoons coarse sea salt

In a double boiler, melt chocolate and butter. Stir until smooth. Remove from heat and let chocolate cool slightly.

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt to combine. Set aside

In a mixing bowl, combine sugar and eggs. Slowly add the warm chocolate mixture, mixing to combine. Add vanilla extract and mix. Add in flour mixture. Cool for a few minutes (if batter is too warm, chocolate chips will melt). Stir in chocolate chips and pecans. Chill for 10-15 minutes.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.

Scoop rounded tablespoons of batter and place on baking tray. Sprinkle each cookie lightly with a pinch of flaked sea salt. Bake for approximately 7-8 minutes until the outside looks slightly cracked. Do not over bake cookies because they will continue to bake as they cool once removed from the oven. Cookies will be soft and gooey in the center.

Hot Fudge Sauce

How much do I love chocolate? To borrow from Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Sonnet Number 43: “Let me count the ways. I love it to the depth and breadth and height my soul can reach.”

No jar of hot fudge from the supermarket is enough to fill that space. That’s why I make the sauce for my ice cream sundaes about a quart at a time.

It is easy to warm and drizzle over ice cream or put into milkshakes or pour over bananas or just eat off the spoon. Yummy!

Hot Fudge Sauce

2 cups heavy cream
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon fine salt
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, broken in small pieces
1 cup sifted high-fat Dutch-process cocoa like Droste (sift, then measure)
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

In medium saucepan, combine cream, butter, sugar and salt. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Remove from heat. Add chocolate and let sit 1 minute. Whisk to completely incorporate. Add cocoa and whisk until no lumps remain.

Return pan to low heat and bring to a simmer, whisking constantly, about 20 seconds. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Serve warm.

Store in a mason jar in the refrigerator. To reheat sauce, microwave a small portion, about 30 seconds until warm.