Perfect Chocolate Cake

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Frosting

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

Blackberry Muffins | High Altitude Baking

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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Homemade Chewy Granola Bars

Easy Granola Bar Recipe | Chewy Granola Bars

Breakfast | January 7, 2018 | By

I’m all about convenience, and that’s probably why I’ve never made homemade granola bars before. It’s just one of those things where the grocery store version satisfied me enough to never venture in. 

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But, I will say, there’s something about being able to make your own granola bars with the flavors that you like best. What you end up with is exactly what you’ve been craving, whatever that might be. 

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These bars are sustained by toasted oats, almond slices, and puffed rice cereal. They are sweetened with honey, brown sugar, and maple syrup. They’ve got pops of flavor with vanilla extract, cinnamon, chocolate hazelnut spread, and chia seeds. Basically, these are the best granola bars I’ve ever had because they fit the things that I like best. 

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Well, actually I mostly just threw in the chia seeds to feel a little healthy. I’m trying to pretend to be a little bit more healthy since I’m carrying this sweet little baby for a few more months. I’m not always successful, but I do like to sneak a few things in here and there where possible- ha. 

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I say use this recipe flexibly- put in the things that YOU prefer. Peanut butter would be an easy sub for the chocolate hazelnut spread, you can throw in dried fruit or some other kind of nut, or you can use all oats instead of the puffed rice cereal. Do your thing you guys, it’ll be so worth it. 

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In fact, I even made it a few times while testing and tried out different flavor combos. I decided I like the cinnamon, and I like just a lightly chocolate flavor from the spread, but not too much. Sometimes I threw in some mini-chocolate chips for a bit more though too! 

Anyways, it’s just nice to have a few flexible recipes in your arsenal, and this one is pretty darn easy too. Hope you guys enjoy it! 

Homemade Chewy Granola Bars

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 4 cups old fashioned oats
  • 2 1/2 cups puffed rice cereal
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 tbs. light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup chocolate hazelnut spread
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3 tbs. chia seeds

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and line a large baking sheet with foil.
  • Line a 9 by 13 inch pan with foil and spray lightly with cooking spray.
  • Toss together the almonds, oats, and puffed rice cereal on the baking sheet, and bake for 8-10 minutes, until lightly toasted.
  • Transfer the toasted mixture into a large mixing bowl. Set aside.
  • In a medium saucepan, melt the butter, and cook over medium heat, swirling occasionally, until it becomes a light golden brown.
  • Add the corn syrup, honey, brown sugar, chocolate hazelnut spread, and maple syrup. Cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until combined and the sugar has dissolved.
  • Remove from the heat, and stir in the vanilla extract, salt, and cinnamon. If using chocolate chips, let the mixture cool slightly before proceeding.
  • Pour this mixture over the toasted oats mixture and stir until completed coated. This will take several minutes- stay at it!
  • Stir in the chia seeds last.
  • Pour the mixture into your foiled and greased baking pan, and press down firmly.
  • Cool the mixture at room temperature and let it set for 1 hour before slicing into bars.
  • Wrap each bar separately for easy grab-and-go!
  • For chewier bars:
  • Use 2 tbs. of corn syrup, and 1/2 cup chocolate hazelnut spread. Follow instructions as usual above!
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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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Favorite Posts of 2017

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Uncategorized | December 31, 2017 | By

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season this year!

I’ve never done one of these wrap-up posts, but I think they seem really fun so I’m going for it this year. 2017 has been a wonderful, exciting year in my personal life, and for this blog! I so appreciate all of you readers who take the time to look at my posts and bake my recipes. 

So, here’s the top 4 recipes from my blog this year- these are the posts that you guys loved the most in 2017! 

4. Celebration Cake– lightly sweet layers of vanilla pound cake with raspberry jam and chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream! I also got to share some exciting news about my upcoming book on this post, and it was wonderful to hear such support on social media from you all!

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3. Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Stuffed Monkey Bread– it’s exactly what it sounds like, and you should make it today if you haven’t already. I worked with Dion’s Pizza for this fantastic dessert recipe! 

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2. Soft Pretzel Twists– these are the perfect snack, and you can even use them as slider buns for sandwiches! Salted, soft, and perfect with cheese, I promise. 

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1. Salted Chocolate Covered Graham Crackers– these easy treats were the most popular recipe of 2017! No question, they are a favorite of mine as well. Just the right amount of salt brings out all the flavor here, and they are the perfect snack! 

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I’ve had a great time making yummy treats this year, and I hope you’ve all been able to bake something new, and find recipes that work in your high altitude kitchen. Here’s to next year- one full of more food and baking for us all! 

Top 4 Recipes of 2017!

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