Perfect Chocolate Cake

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Cake, Chocolate | January 19, 2018 | By

Hey guys, just a simple chocolate cake over here today. And if your January has been anything like mine, this is just what we need. 

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January is about the time we (you’re in this with me now, right?) get generally bummed that the holiday season is over, and also that days off work have become fewer and far between. 

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But let’s talk about brightening our spirits with a kitchen win today instead, ok?

You might have heard me talk about chocolate cake before, but it’s been a point of frustration for me on many levels. For some reason chocolate cakes always sink and air pocket much more at altitude than butter cakes, and it’s hard to bring out a full-bodied chocolate flavor. 

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But this is my favorite attempt yet. It’s got just the right texture, a super chocolatey flavor, and maybe best of all, it’s simple. Why make things complicated- it’s January after all. 

I’ve chosen to frost this with a Swiss meringue buttercream, also chocolate, but this cake can pair with any flavors you might be feeling. Vanilla, peanut butter, caramel- they are all welcome on this sweet bake. In fact, those sound great, maybe I’ll do that next. 

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We’re using dark cocoa powder for a strong chocolate flavor, and sour cream to add moisture. Buttermilk ties the batter together, and brings out the flavors even more. By the way- if you don’t have buttermilk, add a tablespoon of white vinegar to 1 cup of whole milk and stir, you got this. 

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Also, side note, and by the way not an ad, but I tried Pam’s new baking spray for these cakes, and worked so well guys, it’s definitely worth a shot! 

Let’s get through this January with chocolate cake, it’s the right thing to do. 

Perfect Chocolate Cake

Ingredients

  • For the cake:
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup dark cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup very hot water
  • For the frosting:
  • 5 egg whites
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup melted chocolate, cooled

Instructions

  • For the cake:
  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and grease three 6 inch cake pans or two 8 inch cake pans.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, stir together the oil and sugar until combined. Beat in the eggs and vanilla.
  • Add in the flour mixture and buttermilk alternating in several additions, starting and ending with the flour mixture.
  • Stir in the sour cream until combined. Slowly add in the hot water, and beat until the mixture is smooth.
  • Evenly separate the batter between your pans. Bake for 30-32 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.
  • Cool completely before frosting.
  • For the frosting:
  • Over a double broiler, whisk the egg whites and sugar until the mixture reaches 160 degrees.
  • Transfer the mixture to a stand mixer, or use a hand mixer, Using the whisk attachment, beat the mixture until it has completely cooled, and forms stiff peeks.
  • Switch to the paddle attachment. One tablespoon at a time, add in the softened butter.
  • The mixture will begin to look thin and separated. Continue to beat for 5-10 minutes, until the mixture comes back together and becomes light and fluffy.
  • Add in the vanilla extract and melted chocolate. Beat for several minutes until the chocolate is completely incorporated.
  • Frost in any way you'd like!
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Blackberry Muffins with Chocolate Glaze

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Breakfast, Chocolate, Muffins | January 13, 2018 | By

Hey guys!!

Can we all just take a moment to celebrate breakfast, in all it’s forms? I love spending a Saturday morning eating a beautiful brunch with all the fixings. But I also really love weekday breakfasts, and finding the right things to carry me through my workday. Some of my favorites are these muffins (duh) and this quiche, and these homemade granola bars

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I’m talking about coffee shop runs and big, fluffy, soft muffins today. These ones are studded with big blackberries, and topped with the most beautiful dark chocolate glaze. I’m making my coffee shop run on Sunday morning for the entire week. 

I’m all for being flexible with recipes, and this is no exception. I’ve made these in a jumbo-muffin tin so they feel more substantial and satisfying for a Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday morning, but you can definitely make them in a normal tin too! Keep in mind smaller muffins means way more muffins- but don’t worry, it’s easy to cut this recipe in half. 

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Likewise, blackberries were on sale at my grocery store this morning, and they looked beautiful, so I went for it. Raspberries or even diced strawberries would be perfect as well, or why not cherries if you’ve got some time to zone out while pitting? 

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Not a chocolate fan? Skip it for a vanilla or lemon glaze, or just sprinkle some coarse sugar on top before baking. Easy enough you guys, just do what you feel like, and I’ve got a great recipe to serve as your base here. 

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Personally, I feel like pairing blackberries with chocolate is a revelation, and I love these muffins. I actually had a strawberry muffin from a local coffee shop last week that made me feel like making fruit muffins was a must this weekend. 

Anyways, I hope you make these and they make your work week much more bearable, and that you make them taste way better than the coffee shops anyways. Enjoy! 

Blackberry Muffins with Chocolate Glaze

Ingredients

  • For the muffins:
  • 5 cups flour
  • 4 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup softened butter
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 3 pints fresh blackberries
  • For the glaze:
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tbs. dark chocolate cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla
  • 3-5 tbs. water
  • 1/4 cup coarse sugar

Instructions

  • For the muffins:
  • Preheat your oven to 375 degrees, and line your muffin tin of choice with paper liners.
  • In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add in the eggs one at a time, and then the vanilla.
  • Add in the flour mixture alternating with the buttermilk in several additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.
  • Stir in the blackberries.
  • Scoop the dough into your muffin tins, filling 3/4 of the way full.
  • Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool before glazing.
  • For the glaze:
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, salt, vanilla, and water until smooth. Add the water slowly and add more to reach your desired consistency.
  • Dip the muffins in the glaze, and sprinkle coarse sugar on top before the glaze hardens. Enjoy!
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Chocolate Dipped Cream Puffs

Cream Puffs | Pastry Recipes

Chocolate, Custard, Pastries | January 1, 2018 | By

Hey everyone! I hope your 2018 has gotten off to a wonderful start, and if not, I have just the thing. 

Today we’re making cream puffs. I said we because honestly you guys, you have to make these. If you’re anything like me, cream puffs and eclairs and all that, it seems like some high-tech pastry stuff. But really, it’s so easy, and you’re gonna feel like a champ when it’s done. 

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I dipped mine in a thick, glossy chocolate ganache, which really blends well with this shortcut french vanilla filling. 

So here’s the thing- this is actually a revamp of an old recipe of mine, and it deserved another look. The filling here is the real star, and it’s so flippin’ easy you won’t believe it. Sometimes I’m all for making everything from scratch and doing the whole pastry cream thing, and I promise I wouldn’t substitute if the results weren’t truly fantastic. 

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Turns out, if you whip up instant pudding mix with some milk AND some heavy cream, you end up with this mousse-like substance that will change your life. Use it to fill these babies, but also use it for pies and parfaits and anything else ever. Seriously. 

Sidenote- I handwrite all recipes that I work on because I don’t want to dirty up my electronics in the kitchen, but it’s such a mess haha. Here’s what a recipe looks like while I’m working with it- all out of order, and used a drip catcher, and other nonsense included: 

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Anyways, back to the puffs themselves. The process for the dough is actually really simple and easy, and it just requires a few minutes on the stove, and another few in the stand mixer. On the other hand- you can totally do this by hand without a mixer, it’ll just take a little elbow grease. You got this. 

Here’s what the dough looks like after you add the flour: 

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And here’s what it looks like after adding the eggs: 

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I do recommend that you use a piping bag and a wide tip to pipe out the dough, but you can also spoon it out. It’s just a bit easier to get the right shape if you pipe it. Regardless of your method here, you can wet your fingers with water to shape the dough or press down any pointy edges. 

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These are super pretty in the end, and I hope you make them and they knock the socks off of everyone you know (they will). Happy 2018 everyone!

Chocolate Dipped Cream Puffs

Yield: 30 filled and dipped puffs

Ingredients

  • For the puffs:
  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 tbs. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs (I always use large, and size matters here!)
  • For the ganache topping:
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • For the cream filling:
  • 2 boxes of French Vanilla Instant Pudding
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream

Instructions

  • For the puffs:
  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, and salt. Set aside.
  • In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat.
  • Add the water and vanilla into the melted butter, and turn the heat up to medium-high. Heat the mixture until boiling.
  • Remove from the heat, and immediately stir in the flour mixture. Continue to work in the flour until it is completely incorporated- the dough will be very thick (see image above).
  • Transfer the dough to the bowl of a stand mixer, or to a mixing bowl if you plan to do it by hand. Let the dough cool for 5-10 minutes.
  • Stir in the eggs, one at a time, mixing fully between each addition. The dough will become smooth and stretchy (see image above).
  • Transfer to a piping bag with a large tube tip on it (I use the Ateco 808 tip), and pipe the puffs onto your prepared baking sheet, about 2 tablespoons of dough per puff.
  • You'll end up with some pointy tops or edges no matter how you pipe them. Wet your fingers with water to press down any pointy edges and further shape the puffs if needed.
  • Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until they have puffed up, cracked, and are golden brown. Cool completely before filling.
  • For the ganache topping:
  • Heat the heavy cream in your microwave until boiling. Whisk in the chocolate chips, salt, and vanilla until the mixture is smooth. Set aside to cool to room temperature while you prepare the filling and fill the puffs.
  • For the cream filling:
  • In a medium bowl, beat together the instant pudding, milk, and heavy cream until the mixture is thick and has soft peaks.
  • To fill the puffs, you can either cut them in half and spoon the filling in, or use a piping bag with a small tube tip to fill them from the bottom or sides.
  • Be generous with the filling, you'll have plenty!
  • Once the ganache has come to room temperature and is fairly thick, dip each puff into it.
  • Chill the puffs immediately, and serve and store cold.
  • Enjoy!
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Chocolate Chip Pound Cake

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Hi everyone! 

I’m a bit behind on my blogging schedule, mainly because I’ve had some exciting things happen in the last couple of months! First- I finished all the content for my upcoming book and turned everything into my publisher. Super exciting/terrifying to have sent it all off! I’m also really excited to share these pretty promo cards they made for Sugar High: 

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Second bit of a news is a fun one. I’m so excited to say that my husband and I are expecting our first child! I’ve nicknamed the little lime-sized baby “Muffin” for now. Life is wild. 

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Onto this pretty pound cake! Since the holiday season is officially upon us, it’s time to think about sweet treats that travel well, and please crowds. This chocolate chip pound cake is perfect for any such an occasion. 

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I love pound cake because it stands alone- you don’t need to make frosting or cream or anything to go with it, although if you’re feeling up to whipped cream, go for it. It’s just lightly sweet, very dense, and provides us with a perfect little snack anytime. Or a breakfast. Yes, I eat cake for breakfast, it’s fine. 

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This is a classic recipe, and you can find my bundt cake version over here. I’ve made this one in the form of a single loaf- a bit less cake overall, and the addition of chocolate chips gives it just the right twist. 

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You can actually alter this recipe in so many yummy ways. For example, top it with sliced fruit before baking, or fill it with berries, or lemon zest and juice. Whichever way you make it, it’s still going to have that perfect tightly-knit crumb that you’ll keep coming back to. 

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I hope you’re starting off your holiday season brightly this year! Personally, I’m one of those Christmas fanatics that starts listening to Christmas music on November 1st, and shopping later that day. However you prefer it though, treat yoself with something sweet all season! 

Chocolate Chip Pound Cake

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups flour + 2 tbs.
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • Additional chocolate chips and coarse sugar for the top (optional)

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and grease a loaf pan.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the 1 1/2 cups flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until combined. Beat in the eggs and vanilla.
  • Add in about half of the flour mixture, and beat until combined. Then add the milk, mixing until smooth, and finish with the last half of flour.
  • In a small bowl, toss the extra 2 tbs. of flour with your chocolate chips until coated, and pour the entire contents into your cake batter. Fold in.
  • Pour the batter into your prepared pan and spread evenly. Sprinkle the top with extra chocolate chips and coarse sugar.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 50-55 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely, and enjoy!
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Praline Chocolate Sweet Rolls

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Breakfast, Chocolate | October 15, 2017 | By

Fall is here and I’m so pumped. Bring on the seasons of holidays and baking and big feasts, I’m in. 

I’m back in the kitchen after a few weeks of a break after I finished up and sent in all the recipes and other work for my upcoming book! After cramming in the last few recipes at the end there, I needed a little break from baking. 

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But now, fall has hit me and I’m so ready. I’m starting out this season with these Praline Chocolate Sweet Rolls, and omg, what a start.  These rolls are layered in flavor all throughout, and you’ll love all the bold, unique tastes wrapped up together into a big ‘ol fluffy, soft bun. 

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These babies start with homemade praline candies, sweet and crunchy. You’ll need a candy thermometer to get these right since the temperature is so important. Sugars, butter, milk, bourbon and more will bubble away until they reach the soft ball stage, and you’ll scoop it out and let it cool. 

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The remaining filling is made of softened butter, dark cocoa powder, brown sugar, and cinnamon, smashed together into a paste. You’ll spread it over the fluffy, light dough, sprinkle on chopped pralines, and roll it all up like a present. 

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The best sweet rolls are generously covered in smooth frosting. I honestly get bummed out when I buy a roll somewhere and they skimp on the frosting. We all love it, why the heck aren’t we ALWAYS covering rolls in frosting? Listen, we’re already splurging on a sweet roll, we do not need to save the calories. 

These rolls are truly over the top, and they’re worth every step. Don’t wait, make ’em today. 

Praline Chocolate Sweet Rolls

Ingredients

  • For the praline:
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tbs. bourbon
  • 6 tbs. butter
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 cups roughly chopped pecans
  • For the dough:
  • 1 1/2 tbs. active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water (110-112 degrees)
  • 2 tbs. sugar
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tbs. canola oil
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 5 cups bread flour
  • For the filling:
  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 2 tbs. dark cocoa powder
  • 1 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tbs. cinnamon
  • For the frosting:
  • 1 8oz. package of cream cheese, softened
  • 4 tbs. softened butter
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 tbs. milk

Instructions

  • For the praline:
  • Lay out two pieces of parchment paper on your counter, and have a small cookie scoop or a spoon ready to go.
  • In a medium pan, use a wooden spoon to stir together all of the ingredients over high heat. Once the mixture has started to boil.
  • Place your candy thermometer into the pan, and turn the heat down to medium-high.
  • Continue to stir the mixture constantly until it reaches the soft ball stage, or 240 degrees.
  • Remove from heat, and stir for about 1 minute, until it just begins to thicken.
  • Working quickly, use your scoop or spoon to scoop the praline onto your parchment paper. Let these cool completely and then roughly chop. Set aside.
  • For the dough:
  • Mix together the yeast, warm water, and sugar. Let this sit for 5 minutes until the yeast has bloomed.
  • Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, heat together the whole milk, 1 cup of water, canola oil, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt until about 120 degrees.
  • Pour the milk mixture into a stand mixture, or a large bowl. Add in 4 cups of flour to start, and beat together until combined.
  • Add in the yeast mixture, and beat together for several minutes. You will have a lumpy, very wet mixture at this point.
  • Add in another 1/2 cup of flour, and beat together. Continue slowly adding flour until dough leaves the sides of the bowl, and is no longer sticky.
  • Then, pull the dough out onto a floured surface and gently knead in a little more flour until it's smooth.
  • Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise for 30-35 minutes for the first round, until doubled in size.
  • After the first rise, punch down the dough, and knead on a floured surface once or twice. Place the dough back in the bowl, cover, and let it rise again for about 20-25 minutes this time, until risen by about 1/3.
  • For the filling:
  • Stir together the softened butter, cocoa powder, brown sugar, and cinnamon until a paste forms.
  • Roll out the dough to a large rectangle, about 20 inches by 12 inches.
  • Spread the filling evenly over the entire rectangle. The dough will be soft, so this will take some working.
  • Sprinkle the chopped pralines evenly over the top.
  • Roll the dough, starting on the longer end, until it has formed a log.
  • Slice off the uneven edges of the log first. Then cut the dough in half, and in a half again, until you reach 16 rolls.
  • Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a non-stick sheet, and evenly arrange the rolls on it.
  • Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees, and allow the rolls to rise while it preheats, about 15 minutes.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the rolls are golden brown.
  • For the frosting:
  • In a medium bowl, beat together the cream cheese, butter, and powdered sugar.
  • Add in the vanilla extract and milk, and beat together until smooth.
  • Scoop the icing onto the warm rolls, and spread. Enjoy!
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