Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Don't Knock It Til You Try It

I've made so many different chocolate cakes recently. Some with cream cheese frosting, some with fudge frosting, some with white chocolate mousse and even some cupcakes. I am chocolate caked out! So when Rachel of Five Year Plan announced that this months ingredient for Rach's Baking Challenge was chocolate, I was not so excited.

But, this Chocolate Zucchini Bundt is one chocolate cake I NEVER get tired of making or eating, and neither does my family. They ask for it every holiday.

This year for my mom's birthday, she requested this cake. To make it a little fancier, I added a simple glaze to the top. I didn't measure, but it was about a cup of sifted powdered sugar, with a little milk and vanilla to thin it out.

I love you mom!

I've been making this bundt cake for years. I've baked it in loaf pans, a bundt and even cupcakes. It's chocolaty and so moist from the shredded zucchini. And before you start cringing or turning up your nose, trust me! You can't taste the zucchini at all. It's like carrot cake- it provides moisture and melts into the crumb but you don't really taste bits of the veggie.

My brother who hates zucchini, loves this cake. He hates zucchini because I made him eat it one night for dinner and he gagged through the entire thing. (I know I'm such a mean big sister!) So when I told him I was making this he said, "eww, gross!". But I made him help me and when we were done baking this beautiful bundt he was the first one to want a bite. He even ate it for breakfast the next day- zucchini and all!

So if you don't try any other recipe on this blog, please try this one. I promise you will like love it! This was also the very first recipe I blogged about nearly 2 years ago. It's definitely a keeper. Now go grate up some zucchini and make this bad boy. You will not be disappointed.

Chocolate Zucchini Bundt
  • 2/3 cup cocoa
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 cup flour
  • 1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 cup sugar (plus more for coating pan)
  • 3 cup grated zucchini (4 med. zucchini)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small mixing bowl combine cocoa and melted butter (mixture will be stiff and dry). Add vegetable oil to cocoa (it will resemble motor oil- don't be alarmed) and set aside.

In a medium bowl sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl beat eggs and slowly add sugar, until thick and light in color. Add cocoa mixture to eggs until well combined, then gradually add flour being careful not to over mix. Once mixture is well incorporated add grated zucchini and vanilla.

Butter or spray bundt pan evenly with non stick spray, then sprinkle with granulated sugar to form a sugar crust. Pour batter into pan about 3/4 full. Place pan in a preheated oven for 65-70 minutes until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Allow to cool completely before removing from the pan. Loosen your belt, because you'll be eating more than one slice.


A small amount of batter will be leftover depending on the size of your bundt (use the largest one you have). I usually pour the extra batter into a small pyrex dish, bake it and eat it while the bundt is still in the oven. The cake baked in a small dish will cook much quicker than the bundt.

Drool :-P'''

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Thank you!

I'll post another recipe soon, but I wanted to thank Katie from Apple & Spice for sending me a tasty little package from across the pond.

Look at all my goodies!

She sent me this to say thank you for helping out with the Cake Slice Bakers over the last couple weeks, but really I have to say thank you to Katie for investing so much time into this baking group so that we can bake cake together. Thank you Katie!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Homemade, Not Store Bought. But I'm Flattered.

A few weeks ago my mom shared my blog with her co-workers. Her cubicle neighbor forwarded my blog to her friend in another state who then emailed me to order a surprise cake for her friend. Who is my mom's cubicle mate. Got that?

She asked for either a rum cake or a carrot cake. After a few emails back and forth we both decided on a carrot cake. She wasn't sure about the addition of raisins, nuts or coconut so I settled on a carrot cake recipe from Alton Brown that The Repressed Pastry Chef made a couple months back.

The cake recipient was very pleased with her birthday cake. When my mom presented her with the boxed cake she said "I thought your daughter made this?". She thought it was purchased from a bakery! She was gracious enough to share with her co-workers. Soon after my mom sent me a text that said "Your cake was a hit. Everyone loved it!"

I doubled the recipe and made a triple layer cake. With the remaining batter I made carrot cupcakes. While they were on the cooling rack, my older brother and husband kept sneaking by and eating them. I had 3 left to photo, so here are the carrot cake and cupcakes! Perfect for a fall day or just because it's a Monday.

Carrot Cake from Alton Brown via TRPC
  • Unsalted butter, for the pan
  • 12 oz., approximately 2 1/2 cups, all-purpose flour, plus extra for pan
  • 12 oz. grated carrots, medium grate, approximately 6 medium
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 10 oz. sugar, approximately 1 1/3 cups
  • 2 oz. dark brown sugar, approximately 1/4 cup firmly packed
  • 3 large eggs
  • 6 oz. plain yogurt
  • 6 oz. vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9-inch round and 3-inch deep cake pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Set aside.

Put the carrots into a large mixing bowl and set aside.

Put the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and process for 5 seconds. Add this mixture to the carrots and toss until they are well-coated with the flour.

In the bowl of the food processor combine the sugar, brown sugar, eggs, and yogurt.

With the processor still running drizzle in the vegetable oil. Pour this mixture into the carrot mixture and stir until just combined. Pour into the prepared cake pan and bake on the middle rack of the oven for 45 minutes. Reduce the heat to 325 degrees F and bake for another 20 minutes or until the cake reaches 205 to 210 degrees F in the center.

Remove the pan from the oven and allow cake to cool 15 minutes in the pan. After 15 minutes, turn the cake out onto a rack and allow cake to cool completely. Frost with cream cheese frosting after cake has cooled completely.

NOTE: I don't remember exactly how long I baked the cupcakes, so keep an eye on them and test them after the first 20 minutes. Remove from oven when a toothpick inserted in the center on the muffins comes out clean.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

With a side of "homemade love".

A few months back I made rosemary flatbread with blue cheese, grapes and honey. I thought it was really tasty but my husband had different thoughts. I liked the flavor combination but I thought the real star was the crispy flatbread. So I made it again and topped it with man (and boy)-approved pizza toppings.

My little brother found out I was going to be making homemade pizza and asked for me to wait til he came over to make it. So I did. I asked him what he wanted on his pizza and handed him a pad and paper to write his requests on. This is what he wrote, "some garlic, tomato chunks, peppironi, italian sausage, Dr. Pepper :-], and your homemade love <3". Ask and you shall receive.

He's generally not a mushroom lover, but I sauteed some up in a little butter and garlic and he piled those on too along with a simple tomato sauce and milky fresh mozz and loads of freshly crushed garlic. And just so you know the Dr. Pepper was served on the side, lukewarm and in a can. Just like he likes it. :-)

Crispy Flatbread Pizza adapted from Food & Wine
  • 1 envelope active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 cups bread flour, plus more for rolling
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 2 teaspoons chopped rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • pizza sauce
  • pizza topping of your choice

In a large bowl, whisk the yeast and sugar with 1/4 cup of the flour. Stir in 1/4 cup of the warm water and let stand until slightly foamy, about 5 minutes. Add the rosemary, salt, pepper and the remaining 1 3/4 cups of flour and 1/2 cup of water; stir until a dough forms.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth, about 5 minutes. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, cover and let rise in a draft-free spot (the microwave) until billowy and doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450°. Place a pizza stone* in the bottom of the oven, and preheat for at least 30 minutes.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Press and stretch the dough into a 13-inch round or 3 individual size pizzas (about 8 inches- the larger the flatbread the thinner and crispier it will be) then transfer to a lightly floured pizza peel or the back flat side of a sheet pan.

Slide the flatbread onto the hot stone and bake for about 8-10 minutes, until the crust is very lightly golden. Place your sauce and desired pizza toppings on it then transfer the flatbread back into the oven til cheese melts and toppings are warmed through.

NOTE: *I only have one pizza stone but baked 3 pizzas at once. The stone yielded the crispiest crust, but an aluminum pizza pan (with holes in it for ventilation) came in a close second. A regular cookie sheet worked fine but didn't get as crisp and it took a little longer to crisp up.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Triple Chocolate Cake and A Winner!

This cake was chose by the Cake Slice Bakers for this months cake. It also happens to be the last cake we are baking as a group from Sky High Cakes. It has been a pleasure baking this from this amazing book, but I look forward to different styles and flavors of cake from our new baking book, Southern Cakes by Nancie McDermott. Tune in next month for that wonderful cake!

Since we are switching to a new baking book, as are also accepting new members to bake along with us. We only bake one cake a month that we all vote on, then blog about it on the 20th. If you're interested in becoming a member (and I hope you are!) you can email Katie at: (appleandspice [AT] with ‘Cake Slice Member’ as the subject.

On to this fabulous confection-- Triple Chocolate Fudge Cake! Sounds great doesn't it? It consisted of a chocolate mayonnaise cake made with strong coffee and a bit of cinnamon. The mayonnaise serves in place of oil or butter as there are still eggs in this cake. It's filled with a white chocolate mousse and covered in sour cream fudge! So this cake uses cocoa powder, white chocolate, and dark chocolate. Yum!

I made 2 versions of this cake-- a 6-inch triple layer cake and a 9-inch double layer cake from one recipe. The 6-inch cake was a paid order for my boss' husband's birthday. He is a major chocoholic and loved this. The larger cake stayed home with Mr. H and I, but we graciously shared with our neighbors, family and friends. A little went a long way.

I only had one minor problem with this cake and it was the frosting. It wasn't really a problem it just wasn't the consistency I wanted. It makes a loose but fudgy frosting that's supposed to be the consistency of mayonnaise. It was just difficult to spread over the cake so I added about a cup of sifted powdered sugar and a little vanilla to thicken and smooth it out. It became very thick almost immediately so I then added a little milk and called it perfect.

It spread beautifully and I was even able to pipe a simple border on the cakes. A few of you have asked me how I get my cakes so smooth. I use an off-set spatula and a rotating cake stand. I haven't always done it this way though. I just bought the revolving cake stand a couple months ago, but it has made my life so much easier and my cakes so much smoother. I'm in love with it. See look how smooth. Does anyone else get turned on by super smooth frosting? Anyone?

Triple Chocolate Fudge Cake from Sky High Cakes
Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake
  • 2 ¼ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 ¼ tsp baking soda
  • 1 ¼ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 ½ ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 ¼ cups hot, strongly brewed coffee
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup mayonnaise (not low fat or fat free)
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 ¼ cups sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottoms and sides of three 9 inch round cake pans. Line the base of each pan with parchment.

Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.

Put the chocolate in a large heatproof bowl. Bring the milk to a simmer. Pour the hot coffee and milk over the chocolate. Let stand for a minute, then whisk until smooth. Let the mocha liquid cool slightly.

In a mixer bowl, beat together the eggs, mayonnaise and vanilla until well blended. Gradually beat in the sugar. Add the dry ingredients and mocha liquid alternately in 2 or 3 additions, beating until smooth and well blended. Divide the batter among the 3 prepared pans.

Bake for 25 to 28 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the centre comes out almost clean. Let the cakes cool in their pans for 10-15 minutes before un-molding onto a wire rack and carefully peeling off the paper. Leave to cool completely.

NOTE: Do not use salad dressing, Miracle Whip or Lite Mayo. I used Hellman's or Best Foods Real Mayonnaise.

White Chocolate Mousse

  • 4 ounces white chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tbsp sugar

Melt the white chocolate with ¼ cup cream in a double boiler. Whisk until smooth. Remove from the heat and let the white chocolate cream cool to room temperature.

When it has cooled, beat the remaining ¾ cup cream until soft peaks form. In a clean bowl whip the egg white with the sugar until fairly stiff peaks form.

Fold the beaten egg white into the white chocolate cream, then fold in the whipped cream until blended. Be sure not to over mix.

Sour Cream Chocolate Icing

  • 12 ounces bittersweet or semi sweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp light corn syrup
  • ¼ cup half-and-half at room temperature
  • ½ cup sour cream, at room temperature

Melt the chocolate with the butter and corn syrup in a double boiler over barely simmering water. Remove from the heat and whisk until smooth.

Whisk in the half-and-half and sour cream. Use while still soft.

NOTE: This was too soft for me so I added about a cup of sifted powdered sugar, a 1/2 tsp. of vanilla and whisked it together. It was a little thick so I added milk to thin.

Assembly: Place one layer, flat side up, on a cake stand or serving plate. Cover the top evenly with half the white chocolate mousse, leaving a ¼ inch margin around the edge. Repeat with the second layer and the remaining mousse. Set the third layer on top and pour half the sour cream chocolate icing over the filled cake. Spread all over the sides and top. Don’t worry if some of the cake shows through. This first frosting is to seal in the crumbs, and is known as a crumb coat. Refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes.

After this time cover the cake with the rest of the icing, smoothing it down the sides. It should be the consistency of mayonnaise. Use a palette knife or the back of a spoon to swirl the frosting around the cake.

* * * * * * * * * *
Thank you all so much for leaving me comments about your pets, your friends, your hairy children. I loved reading each and every one of them. They made me laugh, they made me smile, they made me sad. But mostly I just appreciated the love you have for them. They are just so special, aren't they?

On to the winner of my giveaway.... lucky number 44!

#44 is fellow Texan, Adele from Simply Delicious! Congratulations Adele. Contact me with your address so I can send your gift out.

And be sure to check out all the other fabulous chocolate cakes from the Cake Slice Bakers!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Because They're Worth It

Ahh, key limes! It's just starting to cool down here but it's still rather humid and in the 8o's. I'm not complaining. I'll take it. But to cool down I made these key lime frozen yogurt sammies for Labor Day while it was much warmer. Don't you want to catch that drip with your tongue?

Yes, key limes are cute but they require a little elbow grease. I have a juicer but these little suckers are so tiny so you really need to juice them by hand. To get the full effect and to yield the most juice use a wooden reamer.

Your shoulders may burn a little and you develop a little sweat on your upper lip, but it will be worth it in the end. I promise. Besides I couldn't pass up this great photo op. These key limes were lovely and tangy!

This frozen yogurt couldn't be simpler. It only has 3 ingredients that you mix together and throw in the ice cream maker til frozen. Mine took a little while to freeze so I just poured it into a freezer container and plopped it in the icebox.

I wanted to make homemade graham crackers but I just haven't had the time. In the meantime I used packaged ones and they worked just fine. Any cookie or biscuit would work here. Just place a scoop of the yogurt on one cracker, sandwich with the other and refreeze.

Key Lime Frozen Yogurt from Southern Living
  • 1 (32 oz.) container whole milk French vanilla yogurt
  • 1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup key lime juice (about 1 bag of limes)

Whisk together all ingredients in a large mixing bowl until well blended. Refrigerate overnight (see note). Pour mixture into the freezer container of a 1 1/2-quart electric ice-cream maker, and freeze according to manufacturer's instructions. (Instructions and times will vary.) Cover and freeze until desired firmness.

Makes about 6 cups.

NOTE: It's best if you refrigerate this mixture overnight even if it is cold. It will speed up your freezing time in the ice cream maker.

I used fresh key limes but regular limes or bottle key lime juice would work just as well.

I used Horizon Organic Whole Milk Vanilla Yogurt and full fat sweetened condensed milk. Fat free can be substituted.

I made about 10 graham cracker sandwiches then I ran out of graham crackers. I found a box of Nilla wafers in the back of the pantry and improvised. I liked these because they were easy to pop in your mouth (which I did several times!) and because the vanilla was a nice compliment to the key lime, but my sister loved the graham cracker version.

I can't get over their cuteness!

Don't forget to enter my giveaway, if you haven't already!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

200th Post and The Birthday Girl!

Somebody has a birthday today! Can you guess who?

Autumn's 5th birthday is today. My little girl is growing up and it breaks my heart. I remember her as a little stinky pup. We got her from a co-worker when she was about 8 weeks old and barely 5 pounds. We had no intention of getting a dog or any other pet. But I fell in love with her the moment I saw her. I tried to steal her away by sticking her in my purse, but that was short lived because she wasn't potty trained :-)

Autumn at 10 weeks and 4 years old.

My co-worker found her on the side of the road in the pouring rain. How can you deny that sweet face? She snatched her up and took care of her for 2 weeks before she got tired of her. She threatened to take her to get euthanized the day before Thanksgiving (I know, how cruel! Needless to say, we're no longer friends) so Mr. H and I went to pick her up on Thanksgiving Day. We named her Autumn (previously named Sugar. She is so NOT a "Sugar") and nicknamed her our Turkey Dog.

She's earned many a nickname since and has stolen our hearts. She is the most loving dog ever. I know everyone feels that way about their pets, but she was meant to be ours. She has so much character and personality for such a furry girl. She rarely ever barks unless someone rings the door bell or a dog is walking by in front of our house. She chases the black birds out of our yard by prancing around and shooing them away. She chases bunnies for fun. I don't know what she'd do if she ever caught one, she just wants to play. She even sticks her snoot into their burrows to see if they want to come out and play. Though she's completely jealous of our own bunny and wants nothing to do with him :-) Mostly she just likes to go out and lay in the grass and let the wind blow through her ears.

When I cry, she sits near me and gives me snuggies. She sleeps in the middle of our bed on her back with her feet up in the air and fan blowing on her belly. When she sees we've caught her in the act she gets embarrassed and rolls over. She sleeps on our bed often but if we've just put clean sheets on it, then she won't jump on unless she has permission. When we're gone, she sleeps on Mr. H's pillow all snuggled up in a ball. When we return she's waiting for us by the door. Always waggin' her tail and ready to give kisses.

Her feet smell like corn chips so we call her Frito Toes from time to time. When it's time to take a bath she runs to the opposite side of the house and starts to shake. She wasn't always like this. In fact when she was a pup, she'd sit outside the shower when I was in there and she'd cry until I picked her up. We would shower together. Now she cowers, but once she's in the tub, she's just fine. I'm convinced she just likes to be stinky.

She thinks she's much smaller than she is (much like her momma) and likes to sit in her favorite chair in the office. She barely fits in it and her feet hang off the edge sometimes but she doesn't care. She is quite the contortionist and makes herself fit into any little nook. She is a sleeper, much like her parents, and loves to eat even when she's not really hungry. Also like her parents. She hangs out with me in the kitchen when I cook. I like to think it's because she doesn't want me to be lonely but I know it's because she's hoping I drop something.

Treats are her favorite things and she expects her momma will always keep her in good supply. For her 3rd birthday I made her Bacon and Cheese Doggy Treats, for her 4th birthday I made her Tuna, Carrot and Cheese Treats and this year I made her Oatmeal and Peanut Butter Cookies. When she hears the flip of the lever on her cookie jar she comes running no matter where she is or what she's doing. She looks at you, sits down ever so gently, tilts her head and furrows her brow as if to ask if she can have one. This makes it all worth it.

I love you sweet girl. Happy 5th Birthday!

Oatmeal and Peanut Butter Cookies from Tasty Treats for Demanding Dogs
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup uncooked rolled oats
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups milk, at room temp.
  • 1 tablespoon molasses or honey
  • 1 1/4 cups creamy style peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth

Position the oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees. Lightly grease or use parchment paper to line two cookie sheets or baking trays.

In a large bowl, using a fork or whisk, combine the flour, rolled oats, and baking powder.

In a medium bowl, using a whisk or an electric mixer, beat the milk, molasses OR honey, and peanut butter together until smooth. Stir in the chicken broth.

Using a large spoon or spatula, combine the two mixes, blending until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the bowl and forms a soft dough. If the mixture seems a little dry, add a little more broth a tablespoon at a time.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured flat surface. With a rolling pin, roll out the dough to 1/4-inch thick. Use a 1 1/2-inch cookie cutter to cut out as many cookies as you can, reworking the scraps as you go. The dough will become stiff as it is reworked.

Place the cookies side by side on the prepared cookie sheets. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the cookies appear very dry and the edges are light golden brown. Turn off the heat and leave the trays in the oven til completely cool. Leave undisturbed for 8-16 hours. This will allow for them to become shelf stable and completely dried out.

~Makes about 13 dozen 1-inch treats.

NOTE: Some dogs don't tolerate milk. Substitute according to your dogs needs.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

In honor of my 200th post, Autumn has a giveaway for you. One lucky winner will win all the goodies in this photo: A Chef'n salt and pepper grinder ball, a cook booklet from Better Homes and Gardens, Americolor gel food coloring in red, blue and yellow, and a mini whisk key chain.

***In order to enter for this giveaway, you must leave a comment on this post and tell me about your pets if you have any. What are their names and what are they like? If you don't have pets, go adopt one from a shelter- they need a loving home. Of course, that's not a requirement but if you do adopt one, I'll make homemade treats for your special friend :-) If you aren't lucky enough to have pets tell me what your favorite animal is and why.

***Giveaway is open to Residents of the USA and Canada (I'm feeling generous here). You have until Saturday the 19th at midnight to enter. The winner will be chosen by and will be announced on Sunday the 20th.

***One entry per person. Exception: If you have made homemade treats for your pet, leave me a second comment with the link to your post on your blog for a second entry. Extraneous comments will be deleted.

Happy Birthday Autumn!

...aka Silly Willy, Turkey Dog, Seepy Head, Freckle Belly, The Bebes, Floppy Ear, Chicken Butt, Frito Toes, Freckle Lip, Prissy Paw, Stinky Girl, Fatty, Leather Nose, Pretty Girl, Mamas, Nosey Rosey, Hairy One, and Ding Dong!

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