Flourless Chocolate Cake

Happy Independence Day!

I made this cake to celebrate some good ol’ fashioned Red, White and Blue and it turned out really well.  It was my first time making a flourless chocolate cake and I’m hooked.  It’s great for gluten-free and gluten-loving chocolate lovers! You can “accessorize” it however you want, which makes it a great recipe to keep handy all year ’round.

Flourless Chocolate Cake
from King Arthur Flour

Ingredients
Cake
1 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 to 2 teaspoons espresso powder, optional
1 teaspoon vanilla extract, optional
3 large eggs
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, Dutch-process cocoa preferred

Glaze
1 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream

What To Do
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease an 8″ round cake pan; cut a piece of parchment or waxed paper to fit, grease it, and lay it in the bottom of the pan.

To make the cake: Put the chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl, and heat until the butter is melted and the chips are soft. Stir until the chips melt, reheating briefly if necessary. You can also do this over a burner set at very low heat. Transfer the melted chocolate/butter to a mixing bowl.

Stir in the sugar, salt, espresso powder, and vanilla. Espresso enhances chocolate’s flavor much as vanilla does; using 1 teaspoon will simply enhance the flavor, while 2 teaspoons will lend a hint of mocha to the cake.

Add the eggs, beating briefly until smooth. Add the cocoa powder, and mix just to combine.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake the cake for 25 minutes; the top will have formed a thin crust, and it should register at least 200°F on an instant-read thermometer inserted into its center.

Remove it from the oven, and cool it in the pan for 5 minutes.

Loosen the edges of the pan with a table knife or nylon spreader, and turn it out onto a serving plate. The top will now be on the bottom; that’s fine. Also, the edges will crumble a bit, which is also fine. Allow the cake to cool completely before glazing.

To make the glaze: Combine the chocolate and cream in a microwave-safe bowl, and heat until the cream is very hot, but not simmering. Remove from the microwave, and stir until the chocolate melts and the mixture is completely smooth.

Spoon the glaze over the cake, spreading it to drip over the sides a bit. Allow the glaze to set for several hours before serving the cake.

My Comments
For chocolate, I used semisweet chocolate chips and dutch processed cocoa.

I did include vanilla but not espresso powder.

I used an 8″ x 8″ pan, baked it for the same amount of time.

I made the glaze (chocolate ganache) while the cake was baking. I always make ganache in a pan on the stove.  Combine the heavy cream and chocolate chips and stir together on low heat.  I don’t trust the microwave.

After the cake had cooled and the ganache had cooled into a nice spreadable consistency, I frosted the cake and put it in the fridge overnight.  In the morning it was nice and firm and easy to slice.  I did rinse and dry my knife after each slice.  I sliced the cake into 16 squares.

I decided to whip some leftover heavy cream with a spoonful of powdered sugar and put little dollops on each piece, topped with fresh strawberry slices and blueberries, which I thought looked very nice for Independence Day.

 

This cake turned out super yummy and everyone loved it.  I think you’ll love it too and hope you try it out soon.  Have a wonderful day today celebrating our freedom!

S’mores Marshmallow Crispy Treats

Happy fall, y’all! I know it hasn’t really felt like fall, at least here in central Illinois, but technically it is and that means bonfires and making s’mores and drinking hot cocoa! Sometimes having a bonfire isn’t feasible but thankfully there are about as many variations as there are leaves to rake.  Take these S’mores Marshmallow Crispy Treats, for example.  They have all the ingredients of a traditional s’more without the requirement of fire.  This recipe makes a lot of treats so it’s perfect for taking to festive fall gatherings.

S'mores Marshmallow Crispy Treats

S’mores Marshmallow Crispy Treats
slightly adapted from My Baking Addiction

Ingredients
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 10.5-ounce packages mini marshmallows, divided use
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
7 cups crisped rice cereal
9 full graham cracker sheets, chopped into small pieces
1 cup milk chocolate chips
optional: about 1.5 – 2 cups of mini marshmallows and about 1/2-cup of milk chocolate chips (sorry, I didn’t measure, just sprinkled them on)

What To Do
Spray with non-stick spray and/or spread some softened butter along the sides and bottom of a 9″ x 13″ baking pan and set aside.

In a large pan, melt butter over low heat.

Set aside 2 cups marshmallows.  Add the rest of the marshmallows to the pan and stir until completely melted.

Remove pan from heat and stir in the vanilla.  Gradually add crisped rice cereal and graham cracker crumbs; stirring until well coated.  Fold in the reserved 2 cups of marshmallows and chocolate chips until thoroughly incorporated.

Using a buttered spatula, or clean hands, firmly press the mixture into the prepared pan.

If desired, top with additional mini marshmallows and place on the center rack of the oven.  Turn the broiler on low and broil for about 5 minutes, watching carefully, until the marshmallows have browned to your liking.  Remove from oven and sprinkle additional chocolate chips on top.

Cool completely before cutting and serving.

My Comments
The bags of mini marshmallows I bought were 10 oz each.

9 full sheets of graham crackers is one full sleeve of crackers that come 3 sleeves in a box – I think this is pretty standard.

I both sprayed my pan and spread butter in it and it was super easy to get the bars out.

I think next time I will also sprinkle some chopped graham crackers on top.  I couldn’t really taste them in the bars and I think extra on top would look nice and give an extra graham cracker flavor boost.

Some Photos Along the Way
Butter and mini marshmallows melting together
S'mores Marshmallow Rice Crispy Treats

Stirring in cereal and graham crackers
S'mores Marshmallow Crispy Treats

Adding mini marshmallows and chocolate chips
S'mores Marshmallow Crispy Treats

The mixture pressed into the pan
S'mores Marshmallow Crispy Treats

Extra mini marshmallows on top
S'mores Marshmallow Crispy Treats

Turning the broiler on
S'mores Marshmallow Crispy Treats

Extra chocolate chips sprinkled on top
S'mores Marshmallow Crispy Treats

 

All I can say is YUMMY! I recently took these to a family function (where there was no bonfire) and they were a big hit.  So if you can’t have a real s’more, try this twist and I think you’ll be happy!

Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes

Oh, everything is so cute when it’s miniature! When I saw these Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes, I knew I just had to try them.  I love cheesecake and I love pumpkin, so why not combine the two?

And really, can I just take a minute to say how awesome pumpkin, and squash in general,  is? I mean, you can use it in so many ways:  breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and desserts! Sweet and savory!

These cheesecakes are obviously as sweet as can be.  They took a little work, but they are worth the effort.  Plus, you can make them ahead of time, which is great if you are planning a big meal.  Getting as much done ahead of time means less stress!

Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes

Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes
from My Baking Addiction

Ingredients
Crust
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons cocoa powder
pinch of salt
4 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

Filling
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon molasses
1 cup canned pumpkin puree (I used homemade)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
2 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (I used homemade)
3 large eggs

Topping
1/2 cup whipping cream or heavy cream
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

What To Do
Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a pan with 12 muffin liners. Note that this crust recipe does not work in regular pie pans and only as mini cheesecakes.

Crust
In a large mixing bowl, mix together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Beat in the butter at low speed until thoroughly combined and a dough forms. If you have trouble incorporating it, use your hands. It’ll be sticky.

Divide the dough between the muffin liners. Press the dough down with the bottom of a shot glass.  Bake for 11-13 minutes or until the surface of the crust no longer appears wet.

After baking, the crust will still be soft but will firm slightly as it cools. Let cool for 10 minutes while you prepare the cheesecake.

Cheesecake Filling
Turn the oven down to to 325°F.

Beat the cream cheese at medium speed until light and fluffy.

Add the brown sugar, granulated sugar, molasses, pumpkin puree, vanilla extract, salt and pumpkin pie spice and beat on low until well combined.

Add the eggs one at a time, beating on low after every addition until thoroughly incorporated. Do not over mix!

Fill each muffin liner to the top with cheesecake batter and bake for 20 minutes or until the middles of the cheesecakes are set and don’t jiggle when the pan is tapped.

Remove from the oven and let the cheesecakes cool in the pan.

Once completely cool (about 1 hour), remove the cheesecakes from the pan and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or until ready to serve. The wrappers come off neatly before and after refrigeration.

Refrigerate the cheesecakes in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Topping
In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, warm the cream just until hot, steamy and on the verge of simmering. Remove from the heat.

Pour this over the chocolate chips and stir until all the chocolate chips are completely melted.

Let cool for about 20-30 minutes or until room temperature before pouring over the chilled cheesecakes.

My Comments
Crust:  It took mine several minutes in the mixer to become dough and I did have to stop a couple of times to scrape around the bottom of the bowl.  Don’t panic if yours looks like crumbs for a while.  I also used a small cookie scoop to distribute the dough and then used a wooden tamper to pack it in (see photo below).  I think next time, I will try using a regular graham cracker crust.

Cheesecake Filling:  I used a larger cookie scoop to distribute the filling.  This reduces spills and batter going where it doesn’t belong.  I did have a little leftover batter, which I just put into a small ramekin and baked it without a crust.

Topping:  I love ganache but I actually didn’t have enough cream to make enough (oops!), so I decided to follow the directions on the bag of chocolate chips to melt chocolate for dipping.  I made half the recipe, which is 1/2 a cup of chips melted with 1/2 a tablespoon of shortening.  I did this on the stove, which always works better for me than the microwave.  Then I topped it with mini chocolate chips…because they’re so darn cute!

Some Photos Along the Way
Crust ingredients before adding butter
Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes

The crust dough after adding butter
Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes

Dividing crust dough between muffin liners
Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes

The baked crust
Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes

Cheesecake filling ingredients before adding eggs
Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes

Cheesecake filling with an egg
Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes

The baked mini cheesecakes, cooling
Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes

Mini cheesecakes with topping
Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes

All twelve mini pumpkin cheesecakes
Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes

 

Whew! Really, these aren’t hard, just a bit time consuming.  And wow, once you take a bite, you’ll forget all about all your troubles! Well, that might be a slight exaggeration, but these are quite tasty…and maybe for a few minutes you’ll bask in the pumpkin-y cheesecake-y goodness of these adorable little treats.

S’more Granola Bars

For a lot of people, summer means travel.  Whether it’s a weekend getaway or a road trip across the country or even a trip overseas, you’ll need sustenance.  I’m only going a couple hours away for a day and felt the need to have snacks ready.  I know I’m not the only snack packer out there.  I love a good snack.  Snacks keep you going.  And these S’more Granola Bars hit the spot for sure.  I’ve made these a few times now and have loved them each time.

Gooey marshmallows, chocolate and graham crackers all in a easy-to-pack, easy-to-eat bar.  What more could you ask for when you’re on the go?

 

S'more Granola Bars

 

S’more Granola Bars
from The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion

Ingredients
6 T unsalted butter
1/4 c firmly packed light brown sugar
6 T golden syrup, maple syrup or dark corn syrup
2 1/4 c rolled oats
1/2 c unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 t salt
1 c graham cracker crumbs
1 c semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
1 1/4 c miniature marshmallows or 1 c marshmallow creme

What To Do
In a medium-sized saucepan set over medium heat, melt and stir together the butter, sugar and syrup, cooking until the sugar has dissolved.

Stir in the oats, flour, salt and graham crackers crumbs.

Press slightly more than half of the mixture into a lightly greased 9×9-inch pan.  Let cool completely.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.  Sprinkle the chocolate chips evenly over the top, then the marshmallows.  If using marshmallow creme, oil your fingers and a spoon and drop by teaspoonfuls evenly over the chocolate chips.

Top with the remaining crust mixture.  Bake the bars for 15-20 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let them rest for 20 minutes, then cut into squares while still slightly warm.

My Comments
For the syrup, I used maple syrup.

I used miniature M-n-M’s instead of chocolate chips, just because…

I lined my baking dish with foil so it’d be easy to take the bars out and then slice them with a large knife.  I sprayed the foil with non-stick cooking spray.

I let mine rest for more than 20 minutes – it still seems pretty hot so I waited.  I still didn’t get a super clean cut but these taste so good, I don’t really care!

Some Photos Along the Way
S'more Granola Bars

S'more Granola Bars

S'more Granola Bars

S'more Granola Bars

S'more Granola Bars

 

I can’t wait to eat these and am so happy they’ll be available to munch on during my tiny little excursion.  Happy snacking, my friends!!

Strawberry Dark Chocolate Hand Pies

Hip Hip Hooray! It’s strawberry season!!! Matt and I got to go strawberry picking a few days ago and I’ve been in complete strawberry mode ever since.  I always want to try some new recipes using fresh berries and this year I tried these Strawberry Dark Chocolate Hand Pies.

YUM.
Strawberry Dark Chocolate Hand Pies
Strawberry Dark Chocolate Hand Pies
from Two Peas and Their Pod

Ingredients
Your favorite pie dough recipe, for two 9″ pies.  I used King Arthur Flour’s.
2 cups chopped strawberries
1 tablespoon granulated sugar (or more depending on sweetness of berries)
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 cup chopped dark chocolate
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 large egg, beaten
1 tablespoon water
Turbinado sugar, for sprinkling on pies

What To Do
Preheat oven to 400ºF. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a Silpat baking mat. In medium bowl, combine the strawberries, sugar, and cornstarch. Stir until strawberries are well coated.

After pie dough has chilled for at least 30 minutes, roll into a square about 1/8-inch thick. Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces, about 5×5 squares. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of strawberries into the center of each square, then top with about 1 tablespoon of chopped dark chocolate. Brush the edges of the square with the heavy cream. Bring opposite corners together to form a triangle and press the edges together. Use a fork to crimp the edges of the pie.

In a small bowl, combine the egg and water with a fork. Brush the top of the pie with the egg wash and sprinkle generously with turbinado sugar. Repeat with the remaining squares of dough. Roll out the second disk of pie dough and do the same.

Transfer the hand pies to the prepared baking sheets, you should have 8 hand pies. Using a sharp knife, cut a small vent or two in the top of each pie. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the pies are golden brown. The filling may bubble out a bit and that’s ok. Transfer to a wire rack and allow the pies to cool completely.

My Comments
I just made half a recipe.  I did not use all of the strawberry mixture or chocolate (I used dark chocolate chips) or cream.

I tried different shapes because I was curious.  The triangle ones were from 5″ x 5″ squares and the half-moon ones were from a 5.5″ circle.  The two little ones were 2″ circles.  These are pictured below.

After I cut out the shapes I rerolled the dough to make more.  The ones from the initial rolled out dough look the best, in my opinion.

I don’t have turbinado sugar so just used regular to sprinkle on top.

Some Photos Along the Way
Strawberry Dark Chocolate Hand Pies

Strawberry Dark Chocolate Hand Pies

Strawberry Dark Chocolate Hand Pies

Strawberry Dark Chocolate Hand Pies

Strawberry Dark Chocolate Hand PIes

Strawberry Dark Chocolate Hand Pies

 

I love these little hand pies! They’re cute and I love how you can eat a whole pie but it’s not like you ate a whole pie.  The combination of strawberries and dark chocolate is divine.  Add some flaky buttery crust and it’s a party in your mouth.

Have a great week and enjoy some fresh strawberries while you can!