Saturday, March 28, 2009

Girl Scout Samoa Bars

Who doesn't LOVE Girl Scout cookies? Most people usually have their favorite and I remember the Samoas or Caramel deLites always used to be my favorite growing up. You know- the chewy, caramel chocolate-y ones. I could eat the whole box myself!

I came across this recipe- a bar version of the cookie on Baking Bites, but now I'm kind of sorry that I ever did. They are sooo good that I will just be tempted to make them all year long. And let me tell you- they are extremely good dipped into hot coffee. You won't need to buy another $4.00 box ever again(at least of the Samoas).

I wrapped some into clear little treat bags and gave them away. I share.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Nutella Hot Chocolate

I must say my love for Nutella is like none other and I must admit... sometimes I eat it straight from the jar. Who can resist?

Nutella is so good that it even has it's own holiday. It is the best stuff on earth, I'm pretty sure.

Nutella Hot Chocolate

1 cup milk
1-3 tablespoons Nutella, depending on how sweet you like (I only used 1)
1 teaspoon of instant espresso powder

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine all 3 ingredients and whisk until smooth and frothy. Pour into your favorite mug and if desired top with cocoa powder, cinnamon, or mini marshmallows. Enjoy.


Ribollita is a simple yet hearty Tuscan bean soup that I absolutely love. I really like to make a big pot of soup when I sort of want to clean up the pantry. It always seems to get really full especially in the winter time so it was necesarry. I also had a Parmesan cheese rind in the fridge that needed to be used up, which is amazing in soups.

Whenever I get down to the end of the rind, I just wrap it in some plastic wrap and stick it in the freezer for when I want to make soup. That is just one tip that I learned from watching Giada. Pretty nifty, right?

Speaking of Giada, this is one of her recipes and it can be found here. Enjoy.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Guinness Chocolate Cake

I hate to post two chocolate birthday cakes in a row! Actually I guess this post couldn't come at a more perfect time since St. Patty's Day is right around the corner.

When I first spotted all of the recipes for Guinness cake floating around the internet, I could not wait to make one! Not that I love beer or anything- in fact I pretty much hate the taste of it. But I just knew that it would make the perfect birthday cake for my brother who loves anything with Guinness in it.

There are a lot of different variations out there for Guinness cake and I could not decide which recipe to use. I knew I wanted a double layer cake so I sort of came up with my own version. I used the most fabulous chocolate cake recipe from my last post and made a few slight changes. You can view the recipe below.

Just a few of my thoughts:

The flavor of the cake doesn't really have a strong beer flavor like you would think...but the Guinness really brings out the chocolate, sort of like coffee does. They compliment each other so well and becomes this amazing flavor that I can't quite describe. Not too sweet or chocolate-y, but just right. It's really, really unbelievably good!

Another heads up, this is a VERY moist cake. I had some issues getting the cake out of the pan and so that is why you can see little bits of cake coming through the frosting. I wasn't even going to show the picture because I thought it looked so bad, but what fun would that be! Anyway, be sure to line the bottom of the cake pans with parchment paper and you should be fine. I learned the hard way!

I think next time I will try making it into little cupcakes, maybe for St. Patty's Day with little shamrocks on top. Well, that might have to be for next year since we're all caked out.

Guinness Chocolate Cake

Butter, for greasing the pans
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
2 cups sugar
3/4 cups good cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk, shaken
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup Guinness stout beer, room temperature

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Butter 2 (8-inch) round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans.
Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined.
In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla.
With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry.
With mixer still on low, add the beer and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.
Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.
Place 1 layer, flat side up, on a flat plate or cake pedestal.
With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting.
Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake.

Chocolate Frosting

6 ounces good semisweet chocolate
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 extra-large egg yolk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon instant coffee or espresso powder
1-2 tablespoons of Guinness stout beer

Chop the chocolate and place it in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir until just melted and add the coffee powder then set aside until cooled to room temperature.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until light yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Add the egg yolk and vanilla and continue beating for 3 minutes.
Turn the mixer to low, gradually add the confectioners' sugar, then beat at medium speed, scraping down the bowl as necessary, until smooth and creamy.
On low speed, add the chocolate and beer to the butter mixture and mix until blended. Don't whip!
Spread immediately onto the cooled cake.