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.
It’s Fall! Maybe for real this time! Yes, in this part of Tennessee it’s rarely fall before at mid-October. But every year we somehow forget about how that happens and moan and groan about it through September.
Please forgive my Fall over-styling, then, but I was a little excited.
These little date candies come to you via the Secret Recipe Club from Melissa, author of Smells Like Brownies. Strangely enough, Melissa is probably the only SRC member I’ve met in person; she was one of my sister’s friend in middle school. We also went to the same high school; she would have been a freshman when I was a senior. SO WEIRD!
So now Melissa is, like me, a stay-at-home mommy who passionately loves to bake. She is also very health-conscious and a pescatarian. I will say that after #Choctoberfest I really just wanted to make a steak for SRC! But since Melissa doesn’t go that route, instead I made this yummy date candy balls that are a lot more healthful than, say, Millionaire Shortbread Bars.
I thought the coffee powder might be a little overwhelming for the rest of the flavors, but I liked the balance between it and the cocoa. I was sure my kids would take one taste and refuse to eat them because NUTS and COFFEE, but they gobbled them right up. Score for Mommy!!! A healthy snack that gets them good fat from nuts and vitamins from the dates.
unsweetened shredded coconut, for rolling (optional)
Toast chopped nuts in a dry skillet over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until they smell nutty. Put nuts and dates in a food processor and run until they are well chopped and combined.
Add cocoa, coffee, salt, vanilla, and chocolate chips to the mixture and pulse until combined.
Use a small cookie scoop (about 2 teaspoons) to measure some of the mixture into your hand, then roll into a ball. It should press together pretty easily; if not, you can add a teaspoon of water or honey to the mixture and pulse again. If desired, roll balls in shredded coconut. Place on a plate and refrigerate for a little it before serving. Store covered in fridge.
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.