The boys are back in town … or, in our case, the girls.
For six years, my husband has been a dorm parent in a boys’ dorm at the private high school where he teaches and we live. We were in one dorm for a year; and then, when we moved into our last apartment, another dorm for five. I LOVED those boys – and still do, of course. We knew at the end of last year with us moving it was likely my husband would be assigned to a different dorm. And he was. A girls’ dorm.
Most of my part in dorm parenting has been baking for the boys. It brings me a lot of joy, and I think it helps them feel a little more like school is home. I was a little hesitant about the girls’ dorm, wondering if they would eat like the boys do. I have been assured from every side that yes, they do.
So now I have 40 high-school daughters. And they wiped this platter clean the other night. Mr. V said one even said she doesn’t usually love chocolate, but she really liked this cake!
We’re living in a house now, so we’re not in the dorm with the kids, which is kind of weird after six years of being in one. But we’re still on campus and eating in the dining hall and trying to love these kids like our own. So I’ll still be baking up a storm!
Slightly adapted from Barbara Bakes. I love bundt cakes because they are so easy to serve and don't require as much frosting (I am not huge on frosting), but you could also bake this as a 9x13 or a layer cake, adjusting the time.
1 c. (2 sticks) butter
5 T cocoa powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 cup water
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 3/4 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 c. sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 c. chocolate chips
1 T honey or corn syrup
3 T heavy cream
Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a bundt pan with cooking spray with flour and set aside.
In a medium-sized saucepan, stir together butter (cut into slices), cocoa powder, salt, and water. Cook until the butter is melted, stirring, and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and baking soda. Add half of the butter mixture and stir until well blended. Add the remaining butter mixture and stir until uniform. Stir in sour cream and vanilla until uniform.
Pour the mixture into the prepared bundt pan. Bake 35-40 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then invert onto a cooling rack or platter to cool completely.
Put chocolate chips into a microwave-safe measuring cup. Add honey or corn syrup and heavy cream on top. Microwave 30 second on high power, then stir together until the chocolate is smooth. If it will not all melt, give it another 15 seconds or so. (Do NOT add more heavy cream once the chocolate is hot; it will make it seize up.) Drizzle or spoon over top of the cake and let set.
I’m determined to make it through a bunch of the recipes I’ve Pinned this year. I have a mere 5,400+ Pins … and most of them are probably recipes. Because mostly I use Pinterest for its original intent: to have a visual bookmarking system.
Since I have a dorm full of high school boys waiting to be fed, I should have no problem finding someone to feed these recipes, right? Every Wednesday, Mr. V has a small group of boys (6), and then Thursday nights I aim to feed the whole dorm with a larger recipe (usually dessert).
I’m not sure if this coffee cake was a hit with the boys – I haven’t checked with Mr. V – because his small group is largely students from China and Hong Kong. The Chinese are not like Americans when it comes to sweets, I’ve found. But really, I don’t care. Because it’s AMAZING and I am so glad to have unearthed this recipe.
I also simplified the streusel and the frosting a little bit. And to be honest, I think I would like this even more without the frosting. I find buttercream to be too sweet for me – I prefer cream cheese frostings if any. But, sadly, the cake is not real pretty without it. Maybe if there was streusel on the top, too, it would help that? I may give that a try next time.
There is nothing really virtuous about this to make it breakfasty; the cake simply feels more like a coffee cake because it is dense, fruity, and has streusel. So tell yourself it’s breakfast, or be honest and serve it up for dessert.
(I had some for breakfast this morning. I won’t tell.)
2 T grapeseed oil or melted coconut oil or melted butter
Maple Buttercream Frosting
4 T butter, melted
2 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 T maple syrup
2 T milk
For the Filling
In a large saucepan, combines peaches, cinnamon, brown sugar, and flour. Cook over medium heat 10-15 minutes, until it melds together and the peaches are very soft. Try not to eat all the filling. Set aside to cool.
For the Cake
Preheat oven to 350. Grease a bundt pan well.
With a mixer, cream butter and sugars together. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and sour cream and mix well. Sprinkle salt and baking powder over the batter, then turn mixer on low. Add flour 1/2 cup at a time until batter is uniform.
By hand, fold in the peach pie filling.
Make the Streusel
In a bowl, mix almond meal, brown sugar, and cinnamon together with a fork. Drizzle oil or butter over the top, and then stir until clumpy and oil is mixed throughout.
Back to the Cake!
Pour half the batter into the greased bundt pan. Sprinkle two-thirds of the streusel mixture on top of the batter. Spoon remaining batter on top, then sprinkle with the remainder of the streusel.
Bake 50-55 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. Cool in pan for 20 minutes, then turn over onto a plate, patting on the sides to release the cake. Cool before frosting.
Melt butter in a big bowl, then add powdered sugar and cinnamon and stir. Add maple syrup and 1 T milk. Add more milk if needed to reach a good consistency. If you want a runnier frosting, cut down sugar to 1 1/2 cups. For a more spreadable rather than pourable frosting, add more powdered sugar.
I refuse to let the fact that I didn’t get any great pictures of this cake keep me from posting it. I’ve never claimed to be a great photographer (the opposite, really!). It’s easy to get intimidated in this age of food blogging, where everyone wields his or her DSLR with prowess. I’m still using a point-and-shoot (a nice one, though, that I love – I have a Canon G12, similar to this one).
I’d been envisioning this cake for a week or more for some reason. I’m not even a fan of York patties, although I do like other chocolate-mint things. I was picturing more of an actual mint filling for the middle, but I came across this whipped cream and it sounded divine.
The combination is really wonderful, but make sure you have a crowd to feed! Even my whole dorm of high-school boys didn’t finish it off.
one king-sized bag of miniature peppermint patties, chopped
Preheat oven to 350.
Spray two 9-inch cake pans with cooking spray, then line with parchment paper and grease again.
In a big mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add milk, oil, and eggs and mix together well. Pour in coffee and stir carefully until incorporated.
Pour batter into pans and bake for 25-30 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. Let cool in pans 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
For the whipped cream, with an electric mixer, whisk cream until it begins to thicken. Add powdered sugar and mint extract and beat until stiff peaks form. Place one layer of cake on a plate, then spread with the whipped cream (you may have some left over; you can serve it on top of the cake ... or on your hot chocolate or coffee).
For frosting, melt chocolate chips and butter together in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. (You can do this in a glass bowl over boiling water ... I just like to live on the wild side.) Cool a little bit. Beat in evaporated milk and vanilla with a wooden spoon. Add powdered sugar and stir in until smooth. Pour over cake and spread. Sprinkle the chopped peppermint patties around the top edge of the cake.
It’s Secret Recipe Club reveal time once again. Which means it’s been a month since my blog went ballistic and HostGator tried to shut me down and I almost (yet again) swore that I was just going to stop blogging because I HATE THE TECHNICAL STUFF. Of course that all happened about one hour before my SRC post was supposed to go up. So in case you didn’t see it, last month I served up Arroz con Pollo y Frijoles.
This month I was assigned to the blog Why I Am Not Skinny by Maxcie. The author grew up in South Africa and now lives in Brussels, Belgium, from where she shares restaurant reviews as well as delicious recipes.
I admit that I get very scared by recipes in metric (being your basic American home cook). I had my mathematician husband work out this cake recipe for me. I rounded up or down in some cases, but the cake turned out great so I feel good about it. Instead of a traditional pineapple upside-down cake with brown sugar, this version has homemade caramel and mangoes.
Maxcie used fresh mangoes, but I had a giant bag of frozen chopped ones so I used some of those. I still think it’s impossible to find really ripe mangoes here like you can in Thailand (oh, I still have fantasies about mangoes there!) so I won’t blame you if you decide to use peaches or nectarines instead. But the slight bite of the mango went well with the sweet cake and caramel, and we all enjoyed the cupcakes tremendously!
These adorable cupcakes with a fancy caramel and mango topping are adapted from Why I Am Not Skinny. Like Maxcie, you can also make this into an 8x8 cake and cook for 45-50 minutes.
1/2 c. white sugar
2 T water
3 T butter
1 c. diced mango, fresh or frozen
3/4 c. butter, softened
1 c. sugar
2 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 c. milk
Preheat oven to 350F.
Combine 1/2 c. sugar and 2 T water in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir until sugar is mostly dissolved. Bring to a boil over medium heat and let boil without stirring until the sugar turns caramel brown. Remove from heat; add butter and swirl in by shaking the pan. When butter is fully incorporated, pour into 12 muffin cups evenly. Set aside to cool. When slightly hardened, divide mango pieces among the cups, pressing slightly into the caramel.
With an electric mixer, cream together softened butter and 3/4 c. sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time. In a small mixing bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to mixer and mix until combined. Carefully add milk and gently stir until the batter is uniform.
Spoon or scoop the batter on top of the mangoes in the muffin cups.
Cook cupcakes for 25-30 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. Let cool for 10-15 minutes, then invert onto a plate or cooling rack.
I picked up an extra reveal for this month’s Secret Recipe Club at the last minute – and I am sure glad that I did! These little tea cakes come via Angela of Spinach Tiger. Angela’s site has a wealth of recipes. She’s a Nashville blogger, too, which makes me wish I still lived there so we could hang out! Or, you know, she could make me dinner. I wouldn’t mind having these chicken thighs with pavlova cups for dessert. I’m only 2 hours away, Angela! You let me know when!
Anyway, when I saw the link to her recipe for Tennessee T Cakes, it definitely brought a picture to my mind. I live in Chattanooga, after all, just an hour-and-a-half from Knoxville.
But the recipe really led to a lovely tea cake recipe, made famous by a baker in Nashville when Oprah named her cakes one of her favorite things in 2006. While a quick skim shows that it was a secret recipe but consisted of just flour, sugar, eggs, butter, and vanilla, Angela adds cream cheese to her recipe for a divine richness.
These tea cakes are not quite cake, definitely not the cookie type – they are gooey caramel deliciousness. They come together in a snap with ingredients you probably have around. Make some for a quick treat for the family!
Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare muffin tin by spraying with cooking spray or lining with papers (I use silicone muffin liners).
In a small saucepan, melt brown sugar and butter together on medium-low heat, stirring often. Once melted, turn heat to low. Add cream cheese and whisk until cream cheese is all melted and the mixture is uniform. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla and apple cider vinegar. Let cool to room temperature.
Meanwhile, whisk flour, salt, and baking powder in a small bowl.
When the brown sugar mixture is cooled off, whisk an egg into it. Add flour mixture gradually and stir until all the flour is incorporated.
Divide batter among the muffin cups. Bake 20-25 minutes*, until a tester comes out mostly clean and tops don't look gooey.
Sift powdered sugar over the tops. Cool and then enjoy!
*Angela said hers only took 16 minutes. My muffin liners are kind of small, so my muffins may have been taller and taken longer to cook. Start checking muffins for doneness around the 16-18 minute mark.
When I’ve had a long day … I bake. The best part about being on-campus, in a dorm full of high-school boys, has been the ability to bake without having to eat all the end results. I bake, and then I let Mr. V take the goodies down to the dorm boys. They are happy. I am happy because my kids aren’t asking for cookies every three minutes. My belly is happy because I don’t gain 300 more pounds.
These cupcakes were last night’s creation, inspired by a bunch of ripe bananas on the counter. The rest will go in the freezer for smoothies, but I used two bananas making this awesome cake. I might maybe have been eating the little leftover batter with a spoon. I just love peanut butter and bananas together, so I went for that combo. And with chocolate? A total winner.
Chocolate Banana Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Frosting
Yield: 24-32 cupcakes
This wonderful chocolate banana cake recipe comes from Joy of Baking. You can also make it in a 9x13 pan and bake 35-40 minutes. Together with the peanut butter frosting, these cupcakes are the perfect balance of sweet, salty, rich, and light.
2 c. sugar
1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 c. cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 medium, ripe bananas, mashed
1 c. warm water
1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. flavorless oil
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Frosting
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
4 T butter, softened
1 c. creamy peanut butter
1 tsp. vanilla
3-4 c. powdered sugar
chopped peanut butter cups
Preheat oven to 350. Line muffin tins with liners - I use silicone ones. Spray liners with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In another mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, mashed bananas, water, milk, oil, and vanilla.
Add wet ingredients to dry ones and stir until well incorporated.
Fill muffin cups 2/3 full. (I made 30 cupcakes with a little batter left over, but the silicone cups make pretty small cupcakes.) Reduce oven heat to 325.
Bake about 22 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. Cool.
For the frosting.
With an electric mixer, beat together cream cheese, butter, peanut butter, and vanilla until fluffy. Add powdered sugar and beat about 2 minutes, scraping the sides. Taste and add more sugar if needed. Pipe or spread onto cupcakes. Garnish with chopped peanut butter cups if desired.