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S’mores Pie

S’mores are one of my favorite summer treats. When this recipe by Wishes and Dishes came across my feed, I had to try it! The graham cracker crust was a version I hadn’t tried before and I like how it turned out. I’m sure I’ll use it again with other recipes. I also had a big win with this recipe – I remembered to build the sides of the crust! I was sure to heavily emphasize my notes about the sides so I wouldn’t forget. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
S’mores Pie

1 stick softened butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup graham cracker crumbs (8 graham crackers if you are making the crumbs yourself)
1 tsp baking powder
7 oz marshmallow creme (1 container)
6 whole full-sized Hershey’s bars
1 cup mini marshmallows
1/4 cup chocolate chips (I used semi-sweet morsels)

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9” pie pan.

In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar together until combined. Mix in the egg and then the vanilla extract. Next, mix in the flour, then the graham cracker crumbs, and finally the baking powder.

Divide the dough in half.

Press one portion of the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the prepared pan.

Using a rubber spatula sprayed with non-stick spray, add the marshmallow creme on top of the crust. Spread evenly. Separate the chocolate bars into individual rectangles (aka pips) and place each pip on top of the marshmallow creme. Evenly distribute the mini marshmallows on top of the chocolate bar pieces (I added an extra handful of mini marshmallows).

Using the remaining portion of the crust, pat sections of dough on top of and around the marshmallows. They will not be completely covered which is what you want. The dough is soft so do this in pieces.

Sprinkle the chocolate chips on top. I added a small handful of more chips.

Bake for 20 mins until lightly browned. Remove from oven and place on wire rack.

Cool completely before cutting.

As an added touch, I crushed the remaining single graham cracker in the sleeve and sprinkled it on top of the baked pie.

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Bangarang Cake

I’ve been reminded for weeks that someone wanted “a rainbow cake with rainbow icing” for his birthday cake. Ok. No problem. My first thought was to use it as an opportunity to try a mirror glaze! Unfortunately, I realized I wouldn’t have the time in the week leading up to the birthday so I went through several other ideas – 6” rounds each of a different color, two 9” rounds with the colors carefully layered – before I settled on a tie-dye 9”x13” and decided to wing it with the design of the buttercream.
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For the cake, I used a boxed white cake mix and the recipe on the box. I substituted milk for water and melted butter for oil. Note that you can either us just egg whites or the entire egg with the box recipes. Since I wasn’t leaving any of the cake white, I used the whole egg. After making the cake batter, I separated it into five individual bowls. I used Betty Crocker gel coloring for each color except for purple, which was a liquid coloring. I realized too late into coloring that my dark colors had gone bad so I was not going to get the typical red, yellow, green, etc. The colors ended up very bright which ended up being perfect! I alternated pouring batter of different colors into the greased 9×13 pan so they sat on top of each other. Half of each bowl would get poured in. After each half, the second half was added to keep the variety going in the layers. When the batter was all in the pan, I realized it looked like the imaginary food the kids had a food fight with in the movie “Hook”! Now I’m calling this bake “Imagination Cake” (imagination pie was referenced in the food fight scene). Take a toothpick and run it up and down the length of the cake or make swirl designs to add additional twists of color. Place in the oven for 30 mins at 325F. When done, let cool.

For the frosting, I went with I Am Baker’s whipped vanilla buttercream.

2 sticks of butter, softened
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp almond extract
4 cups of confectioner’s sugar, sifted (her recipe goes as high as 8 but I found the minimum to be perfect)
2 Tbsp whole milk (She notes that you can go up to half a cup for a more creamy and loose icing. I found 2 Tbsp to be perfect.)
1 pinch of salt

Beat butter in the bowl of a stand mixer with he whisk attachment on medium-high speed until light and fluffy – about 3 mins. Add vanilla and almond extracts. Continue to mix.

With mixer on low, slowly add the sugar, milk, and salt, frequently scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl. Once incorporated, whip the frosting for at least 3 minutes on medium to high speed. I ran mine for 7 minutes, same as in the recipe.

If the frosting is too thick to spread, gradually beat in the additional milk (up to a half cup, total).

Separate into five different bowls. Add selected food dye to each bowl and stir until combined. Place an open baggie into a small cup with the top of the bag folded over the lip of the cup. Pour frosting from one bowl into one bag. Lift up bag, zip or twist to close, and use scissors to snip a small tip off of one of the bottoms of the bag. Holding the bag over the cooled cake, squeeze the bag to pipe the icing in a straight line longways along the cake. Use a butter knife, rubber spatula, or icing knife, smooth the row of colored frosting across the cake and down the sides. Repeat the bagging and popping steps for your next color. Overlapping color in each row helps with coverage. Repeat until the entire cake is covered. Run a toothpick through the frosting, lengthwise, to give the frosting a little extra flair. I ended up with plenty of leftover frosting but I also didn’t make a thick layer of frosting on the cake. Let sit or place in the fridge to firm up. It’s been so hot here that I popped mine in the fridge overnight. It gave the frosting a nice texture. The frosting also softened up again nicely after sitting out for a bit.

The almond extract works really well with the other flavors and makes this frosting stand out.

 

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Cannoli Dip Cake Experiment

Some days more than one experiment fails. This trial saw two fails in one day! The idea behind this bake was to try my first recipe for my long venture down the road to figuring out my ideal cannoli dip/filling. Unfortunately, the recipe I tried turned out really runny and had way too much almond extract. I hoped the filling would firm up in the fridge but no luck. I still tried to salvage it by scrambling and throwing together a chocolate ganache to maybe lock in the filling, but I ended up only adding half the amount of chocolate necessary so that, too, turned out too runny. Instead of ending up with a tasty cake experiment, I ended up with a few lessons learned. #weKeepItMessy
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Cannoli dip from Cookstr.

1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese (I used Polly-O which did not require straining)
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 Tbsp milk or heavy cream
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
Mini chocolate chips (I used semi-sweet)

Combine ingredients and place in the fridge to set.

Chocolate ganache
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 oz chocolate (I used only 2 oz of semi-sweet chips)

Place chocolate into a heat-safe bowl. Heat cream in a small pan and bring to a boil on medium heat. Pour hot cream directly onto the chocolate. Let sit for 2 mins to let the chocolate melt. Stir until smooth. Pour onto cake.

 

IMG_3504
Runny cannoli filling between two slabs of yellow cake.
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Coconut Crack Bars – Keto

My first keto-friendly, sugar-free experiment. I came across a post on The Big Man’s World for a coconut crack bar. Many friends have expressed interest in keto-friendly desserts so I wanted to try my hand at one.

This recipe is simple as you just mix three ingredients. However, it proved to be a pain in my butt today as I had to go to five stores to find unsweetened coconut and to Amazon for the syrup. After all of the running around, my bars didn’t turn out like the picture. However, they are very tasty, work well as a frozen treat, and surprised me with the monk fruit maple syrup!

One thing to note is that the recipe is not clear on whether it needs 1 cup of solid coconut oil, melted, or 1 cup of melted coconut oil. It’s possible mine have a bit more than intended leading to a thinner batter.

Curious? Give it a go!

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Coconut Crack Bars

3 cups unsweetened coconut flakes
1 cup coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup monk fruit sweetened maple syrup (I used Lakanto brand)

Line an 8×8 or 8×10 pan with parchment paper and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, add the shredded coconut. Add your melted coconut oil and monk fruit syrup and mix until a thick batter remains. If it is too crumbly, add a little extra syrup or a tiny bit of water.

Pour the coconut crack bar batter into the lined pan. Lightly wet your hands and press firmly into place. Refrigerate or freeze until firm. Cut into bars and enjoy.

Storage:
Room temp – 7 days
Fridge – 1 month
Freezer – 2 months

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Chocolate Pear Cake

Some family was recently traveling in Italy and started sending my photos of some goods in the local bakeries. They’re returning back this weekend and asked about two different cakes. After some Googling and talking with some fellow bakers, we determined that one was a chocolate pear cake and the other was an Italian apple cake. Today I tried the chocolate pear cake using a recipe by An Italian in my kitchen.

It smelled delicious while it baked and looks very tasty now that it’s done. Looking forward to everyone tasting it tomorrow.
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Chocolate Pear Cake

2 large pears either William, Anjou, or Bartlett – I used Bartlett
1 1/4 cups + 2 Tbsp cake flour
1/4 cup cocoa
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp Greek yogurt
2 Tbsp milk
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips, dark chocolate (I chopped up some full-sized morsels instead)

Preheat oven to 350F.

Grease and flour or parchment a 9” cake pan. I used a spring-form pan.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a small bowl, mix together the yogurt and milk until combined. Set aside.

Peel, core, and slice the pears.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs, vanilla, and sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy (about 5 mins). Then, slowly add the vegetable oil and beat until combined (about 1 min). Alternate adding the dry ingredients and the yogurt mixture. Beat until combined (about 1 min).

Pour batter into the prepared pan. Top with pear slices, sliced side down. Sprinkle with mini dark chocolate chips.

Bake for approximately 45 mins or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.

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New York Style Crumb Cake

One of my favorite breakfast treats is Entenmann’s crumb coffee cake. It never lasts long in our house since I simply cannot control myself around it. I knew it was only a matter of time until I tried making one from scratch. For my first try, I went with Brown Eyed Baker’s recipe. It’s very straight forward and easy to put together.

Of course, there’s always the chance you’ll misread the ingredients during your prep and melt 1 3/4 cups of butter instead of 1/2 cup. Looks like I’ll be baking cookies later this week to use up the extra butter.
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New York Style Crumb Cake

Crumb topping:
1/3 cup (66 grams) granulated sugar
1/3 cup (66 grams) dark brown sugar
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp table salt
1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, melted and still warm
1 3/4 cups (198 grams) cake flour

Whisk the sugars, cinnamon, salt, and butter in a medium bowl to combine. Add flour and stir with rubber spatula or wooden spoon until mixture resembles thick, cohesive dough. Set aside to cool to room temperature – about 10-15 mins.

Cake:
1 1/4 cups (142 grams) cake flour
1/2 cup (99 grams) granulated sugar
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp table salt
6 Tbsp (85 grams) unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces, softened but still cool
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup buttermilk
Powdered sugar for dusting

Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 325F. Spray 8-inch square pan with cooking spray and line with parchment paper, allowing excess to hang over the sides.

Using an electric mixer on low speed, mix the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt to combine. With mixer continuing to run at low speed, add butter one piece at a time; continuing to beat until mixture resembles moist crumbs with no visible butter chunks visible – 1-2 mins. Add egg, yolk, vanilla, and buttermilk; beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 1 min, scraping once if necessary.

Transfer batter to baking pan using rubber spatula, spread the batter into an even layer. Break apart the crumb topping into large pea-sized pieces and spread in an even layer over the batter, beginning with the edges and then working toward the center. Be sure not to push the crumbs into the batter, just sprinkle on top. Bake until the crumbs are golden and a wooden skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean – 35-40 mins.

Cool on wire rack at least 30 mins. Lift out of pan using parchment overhang. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.

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Angel Food Cake with Three Berry Compote

It has been a long time since I’ve made an angel food cake and I’ve had a recipe with a three berry compote earmarked from Food & Wine for a long time. Today just seemed to be the right day to give it a go. The recipe is straight forward and was very easy to execute.
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Angel Food Cake with Three Berry Compote

Cake
10 large egg whites at room temperature
1 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup cake flour
3/4 cup confectioners (powdered) sugar
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350F.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg whites at medium-high speed until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and beat until firm-peaks form. Add 3/4 cup of the granulated sugar, 2 Tbsp at a time, beating for 10 secs before adding more. Beat in the vanilla. Once the 3/4 cup of sugar has been added, best the whites at high speed until stiff, about 4 mins.

In a medium bowl, whisk the cake flour with the confectioner’s sugar and salt. Sift the dry ingredients over the beaten whites in 3 batches, folding gently with a large spatula until incorporated.

Spoon the batter into an un-greased 10 inch angel food cake pan (do not use non-stick). Bake for 40 mins, until the cake is risen and golden. Invert the cake in the pan and let cool.

Compote
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 pints (16 oz) strawberries, sliced
2 pints (16 oz) raspberries
1 pint (8 oz) blackberries
3 Tbsp lemon juice

In a large saucepan, simmer the berries with the 1/2 cup of granulated sugar and the lemon juice until the juices are released, 10 mins. Cool slightly.

Using a knife, loosen the cake from the pan and remove the side of the pan. Loosen the cake from the pan bottom and tube. Transfer the cake to a plate. Slice the cake and serve with the warm compote.

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Baklava

Over a year ago, I tried a bacon baklava recipe. It turned out really well! This time, I tried the recipe that the bacon one was modified from. This baklava recipe is from Closet Cooking.

Baklava is fairly straight forward and easy to make. If you’ve never used phyllo dough before, be forewarned that it is a pain. It is a thin dough so it likes to rip and tear and dry out. The dough may make you want to punch a wall, but the nice thing about baklava is that it doesn’t have to be perfect. I had several layers of just pieces of shredded phyllo and some layers of uneven filling yet it looks, smells, and tastes great. So if you have the patience to not throw several sheets of phyllo against the wall in frustration, you will be rewarded with a sweet nutty treat. I used Athens phyllo dough instead of making my own.
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Baklava

4 cups walnuts, chopped (I did 2 cups walnuts, 2 cups pecans)
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1 cup melted butter (I always end up needing more, so have some handy)
1 lb phyllo pastry, thawed

Mix the nuts, cinnamon, and sugar into a bowl. Set aside.

Brush a 9×13 pan with butter. Place one sheet in the pan.* Brush the top of the sheet with butter. Repeat until there are 8 sheets in the pan. (*recipe recommends brushing the top of a sheet before placing in the pan, but I found it easier to brush after placing it in the pan)

Sprinkle 1/3 of the walnut mixture onto the phyllo in the pan. Brush the top of another sheet of phyllo and place into the pan. Brush with butter and add a second sheet. Repeat for a third sheet. Sprinkle another 1/3 of the nut mixture into the pan. Butter and place two more phyllo sheets in the pan. Sprinkle the last 1/3 of the nut mixture onto the phyllo in the pan. Brush another sheet with phyllo and place in the pan. Continue until the last eight sheets are in the pan. Slice the baklava with a sharp knife. Bake at 350F until the top is a golden brown.

Syrup
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 stick cinnamon
2 inch slice of lemon peel
2 inch slice of orange peel
3/4 cup honey

Bring the water, sugar, cinnamon stick, and lemon and orange peels to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add honey and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove the cinnamon stick and peels from the syrup. Pour the syrup over the baklava when it comes out of the oven. Let the baklava cool for several hours.

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S’mookies

Last night, I came across a video by So Yummy that highlighted different desserts you can make with take and bake cookie dough. Of course, right after seeing the s’mookie and pinwheel brookies, I knew I had to give these a go. Today’s bake was the s’mookies because we love s’mores at our house!

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S’mookies

Cookie dough (I made fresh dough using the classic Nestlé Toll House recipe)
1 package of graham crackers
1 package of regular sized marshmallows
1 package of Hershey’s chocolate bars

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Break a graham cracker in half and place each half on the sheet. Break a Hershey bar in half and place each half on the graham cracker half. Take one marshmallow, tear it in half, and place each half on top of the chocolate so that the marshmallow halves are side-by-side. Be sure to leave plenty of space on your sheet as the cookies will spread and be a decent size. I made six cookies per cookie sheet.

Preheat your oven to 375F (or temp for the specific cookie dough you’re using).

Prepare your cookie dough. Take 1 Tbsp of dough and form it into a thick but flat disk. Place the disk on top of the marshmallow and push down slightly to ensure the stack is balanced.

Place sheet in the oven for 15 mins or until browned to desired doneness (time may vary depending on amount and type of dough). Let cool on the tray or parchment paper for several minutes before moving cookies to cooling rack.

Notes from my first go:

For my first tray, I only used a quarter of a Hershey bar and noticed that it causes more of the cookies to collapse and cook lopsided resulting in more melted marshmallows and over-cooked graham crackers. Using half a bar gave the cookie a nice base.

Also in my first tray, I used 1.5-2 Tbsp of dough. This resulted in huge cookies and way too much spreading. The flavor wasn’t quite right because the proportions of chocolate to dough to marshmallow and graham cracker were off. You need enough dough for the cookie to form around the s’more but not so much that it overtakes it.

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Chai Spiced Candied Nuts

Nuts typically make for a good road snack. They’re more healthy than a candy bar or cookies and can be quite tasty. Candied nuts are great but chai spiced candied nuts are even better! This recipe comes from My Baking Addiction and utilizes her homemade chai spice mix which we used trying her chai spiced sugar cookies previously.
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Chai Spiced Candied Pecans

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp chai spice blend (I accidentally only used 1 tsp. Whoops)
Pinch of salt
1 egg white
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 lb pecan halves

Preheat oven to 250°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, stir together sugar, chai spice, and salt.

In a large bowl, whisk together the egg white and vanilla until frothy. Add in the pecans and stir to coat.

Stir in the sugar mixture and stir until the pecans are coated. Spread onto the baking sheet.

Bake for 60 mins, stirring every 15-20 mins. Cool completely before serving.

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Maple Pecan Fudge

I’ve been on a maple kick lately and fudge has been on my add-to-skills list for a long time. When I came across McCormick Spice’s recipe for maple pecan fudge, I knew this would be the first fudge I tried to make. While the recipe seems relatively simple, I ran into an issue or two that resulted in less of a fudge consistency and more of a maple sugar candy. The good news is that it is insanely delicious and no one has complained about it not being more fudge-like. I have a few notes on things to be mindful of on my next attempt but I plan to duplicate this happy accident in the future, too.
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Maple pecan fudge

1 can (12 oz) evaporated milk
3 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) butter, cut into chunks
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 Tbsp maple extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups pecan halves, divided (1 cup and 1/2 cup)

Line an 8” pan with non-stick foil (or regular foil and non-stick spray), allowing the foil to extend over the sides of the pan.

Mix the evaporated milk, Brown sugar, and butter in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil on medium-high heat, stirring consistently. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer, stirring frequently until mixture reaches 236°F on a candy thermometer (soft ball stage). This will take around 30 mins. (My mixture sat under 220°F for a majority of this time and took longer than 30 mins on med-low heat to reach soft ball stage). Mixture will darken in color as it cooks. Remove from heat.

Gradually beat in confectioner’s sugar with electric mixer on low speed. Increase to medium speed and beat until thickened and smooth. (Be careful not to over-beat. I’m pretty sure I did.) Stir in extracts and 1 cup of pecans. Spread evenly into prepared pan. Top with remaining 1/2 cup of pecans.

Refrigerate at least 1 hour or until firm. Use foil to lift out of pan and onto cutting board. Cut into small squares. Store in refrigerator.

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Maple Pecan Cake with Cinnamon Glaze

A neighbor recently had a birthday and had one request for me: one of my baked goods and maple flavor. Maple is a favorite of mine so I happily looked up several different maple desserts before finding a drool-inducing cake recipe from Betty Crocker: https://www.bettycrocker.com/…/7b978598-581f-4e07-9485-2e9f…. I knew I had to match the perfect glaze to this cake and found a cinnamon version of a glaze I had done before on Gonna Want Seconds: https://www.gonnawantseconds.com/…/pumpkin-cake-with-cinna…/. The feedback on this cake was amazing! It’s quick and easy to make with flavor that will put a smile on any maple-lover’s face.
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Maple Pecan Cake with Cinnamon Glaze

Cake:
1 box of yellow cake mix (regular or super moist)
2/3 cup water
1/3 cup butter, softened
3 eggs
1/2 cup maple syrup (or maple-flavored syrup)
1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted

To toast pecans – Place pecans on a greased or parchment-lined cookie sheet. Bake at 350F for about 5 mins. Take them out when they become fragrant. Be careful not to over-bake as they burn easily.

Preheat or keep oven at 350F.

Generously grease and lightly flour a bundt pan. In a large bowl, beat cake ingredients on low speed for 30 seconds then on medium speed for 2 minutes, scraping the bowl occasionally. Pour batter into pan and bake for 47-53 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (mine was good after 47 mins). Cool for 10 mins before removing from the pan. Remove from the pan and let cool on a rack for about 2 hours.

Glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp whole milk (1.5-2 Tbsp depending on desired consistency)

Combine all ingredients and mix until smooth. Drizzle over cake.