Gingerbread Mini Bundt Cakes

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The holiday season is in full swing, so I have been baking to my heart’s content. Gingerbread is a classic holiday baked treat, and this recipe is for the true gingerbread lover. The flavor is ultra rich with a perfect amount of holiday spice, which pairs wonderfully with unsweetened coffee and tea. Making the gingerbread as individual sized mini bundt cakes not only makes hosting easier, it also helps for saving them for later – and these mini bundt gingerbread cakes get even better a few days after making.

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Ingredients: 1 cup oatmeal stout, 1 cup molasses, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 2 cups flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 2 Tbsp ground ginger, 1 Tbsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ground gloves, 1/4 tsp cardamom, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 1 cup brown sugar, 1 cup white sugar, 3 eggs, 3/4 cup vegetable oil

Instructions: Pre-heat oven to 350F. Butter and lightly flour bundt cake pan, shaking out excess flour. Place in the refrigerator. Add oatmeal stout and molasses to a saucepan and bring to a boil, then add baking soda. Let stout/molasses mixture sit and cool.

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Beat together eggs, sugars, and oil, then add molasses and stout mixture. Add flour, baking powder, and spices and continue to mix until fully incorporated. Pour batter into bundt cake pan, filling to nearly the top.

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Bake at 350F for about 45 minutes (until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into cakes). Remove from pan by flipping it upside down onto a cooling rack. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.

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Chocolate Lava Cake

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I’m not a big fan of cake, which puts me in the minority. Lava cake, however, is a thing of its own, and a treat I can have on any given day. I recently made little chocolate lava cakes for a few girlfriends, and it was the perfect ending to a relaxing evening. Each bite, with it’s oozing warm chocolate center was incredibly rich, and each cake disappeared within just a few minutes.

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What’s great about this dessert isn’t just that it’s rich and indulgent, it’s also very easy to put together and most people likely already have all of the ingredients for it in their homes. You can also prepare ahead of time, and bake just before serving for a freshly baked warm treat for guests.

Ingredients (serves 4): 2 eggs, 2 egg yolks, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/2 cup butter, 4 oz bitter-sweet chocolate, 2 tsp flour, 2 tbsp cocoa powder

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Instructions: Combine eggs, yolks, and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer, and beat at medium speed. Meanwhile, heat the chocolate and butter on a stovetop over low heat, just until it’s oozy but not completely melted, whisk together to combine. Once the egg mixture has thickened (about 4 minutes),  add the warm chocolate and butter mixture to the eggs, as well as the flour, and beat for a few more seconds to combine.

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Butter four ramekins, and lightly dust with cocoa powder, shaking out any excess. Pour in the batter, dividing equally among each dish. At this point you can either bake immediately, or refrigerate until a few minutes before serving. When ready to bake bring batter back to room temperature, and bake in 450F oven for 7 minutes on a baking tray. You will see that the sides are set, but the middle will still be soft. Invert each cake onto a small plate, and let sit for a few seconds before lifting ramekin. Dust with powdered sugar and serve with fresh berries.

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I plan to make this treat again for Valentine’s Day, and I know I will be making it many times in the future. It is a decadent dessert to enjoy during these winter months, with good friends, or to finish a dinner for two.


Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cheesecake

Now that the weather is chilly, I’m finally using our oven again, and have been whipping up a variety of decadent treats. A recent favorite is this multilayered cheesecake, whose incredibly rich flavor makes it one to save for special occasions.

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Chocolate Crust

Ingredients: 8 oz dark chocolate cookies, 1 stick butter. 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, 1 cup dark chocolate chips

Instructions: Add the cookies, brown sugar, and chocolate chips to a food processor. Process until all ingredients are fully combined, and you have a finely ground mix. Add dry ingredients to a bowl, and slowly add hot melted butter, mixing as you go. Using a rubber spatula, add the crust mixture to a 9″ springform pan, pressing along the bottom and sides until you have a 1″ crust around the edge. Place pan in the refrigerator to set the crust (15 minutes).

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Chocolate Hazelnut Fudge Layer

Ingredients: 2 cups dark chocolate chips, 1 cup heavy whipping cream, 1 tablespoon peanut butter, 1 1/2 tablespoons Nutella, 2 cups chopped hazelnuts

Instructions: Add heavy cream to a saucepan and heat on stovetop until cream begins to simmer. Add chocolate chips, peanut butter, and Nutella, whisking as you add each ingredient until chips are melted and fudge is smooth. Pour about half of the fudge into the cooled pan, spreading evenly. Sprinkle 1 cup of the hazelnuts over fudge and freeze for about 30 minutes, until fudge sets. Save the rest for the top layer.

Peanut Butter Cheesecake Layer

Ingredients: 16 oz cream cheese, 1 cup smooth peanut butter, 2 tablespoons Nutella, 1 cup sugar, 3/4 cup sour cream, 3 eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions: Pre-heat oven to 325F. Allow cream cheese to soften to room temperature before you begin. Add cream cheese, peanut butter, Nutella, and sugar to the bowl of an electric mixer. Mix on medium speed until all ingredients are blended. Add sour cream, eggs, and vanilla extract while mixer continues to beat ingredients. Pour cheesecake batter into the springform pan, using a spatula to even out the top. Place the springform pan in a oven safe dish at least 2″ deep. Pour water into baking dish until water is about 1″ up sides of pan. (Note: it helps to wrap the bottom of the pan with foil to prevent water from getting into cake). Bake for about 90 minutes, until cheesecake is mostly firm, and middle section is just a little wiggly. Let cool for about 20 minutes, then place in refrigerator for at least 6 hours.

Top Fudge Layer: Once cheesecake has set in the refrigerator, re-heat the remaining fudge until smooth again. Let cool until it is no longer hot, but still fluid for spreading. Spread the fudge over the top of the cheesecake and sprinkle with 1 cup chopped hazelnuts. Place back in the refrigerator to set the top layer, about 30 minutes.

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Middle Earth Madness VIII

As noted in a previous post, a couple of good friends of ours host a fun Lord of the Rings themed party every year right around the end of winter called Middle Earth Madness. Each year we look forward to a full day of enjoying the extended films with great company, eating fun themed foods, and creating our own contribution. This year we decided to make a little model of Minas Tirith using white cake, sugar cookies, icing, and powdered sugar.

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We broke down the basic shape into cylinders and triangular prisms that were roughed out in cardboard. We used a cake mix and cookie dough out of a box so that we could focus on cutting out the shapes that we needed.

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The shape of the city is very conducive to a layer cake, which made it simpler to construct. The only tricky part was the wedge shaped section of rock.

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Once we had our basic structure made from the cake, we cut out quite a few buildings and towers from a cookie sheet and attached them with icing. Then we sprinkled the whole thing with powdered sugar to make it look whiter.

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This is James’ favorite of the treats we’ve created for Middle Earth Madness so far. I’m torn between this and the hobbit hole we made two years ago. We’re not sure just yet what we’ll be constructing next year, but we look forward to thinking up of of new ideas for Middle Earth treats.


Lady Finger Cake

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My best friend’s mother makes some wonderful desserts, and this cake was an instant winner in my books. I decided to take a shot at making it myself, and altered some of the ingredients while I was at it to make them a tad healthier. The original cake had strawberries on the top layer but I used pineapple and blueberries. I personally am not the biggest fan of sweets, particularly cake, but this is not too too sweet, light in texture, and feels like an ideal summer dessert.

INGREDIENTS (for one 9 inch round dish):

2 packets of soft lady fingers (about 24 fingers/packet)

1 package of light cream cheese

1 pint heavy whipping cream

3/4 cup raw sugar

1 1/2 cups blueberries

2 cups diced fresh pineapple

INSTRUCTIONS:

Beat the heavy cream in a large bowl until soft peaks form (this part was a lot of fun).

Cover and refrigerate.

In a separate bowl beat the cream cheese until soft. Add the sugar and beat until fully mixed.

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Add the cream cheese mixture to the whipped cream and beat until thoroughly incorporated. Line the dish with lady fingers all around the edge and add lady fingers to bottom of dish for bottom layer. Add a couple scoops of cream mixture, as much fruit/layer as desired, and then another layer of lady fingers. Repeat layering until you reach the top of the cake. For the last layer spread the cream mixture and decorate with fruit pieces as desired. Refrigerate until ready to serve.