The Ultimate Chocolate Cake

I love chocolate cake.  It may be my all time favorite dessert, and I LOVE dessert.  I made many a cake until I was happy with this recipe.  It’s consistently moist and ultra chocolately (is that a word??).  Anyway, it’s a great cake and the reason rarely make cake from a box anymore.  It’s really not difficult at all, perhaps a little more time consuming but well worth it.  Try it and see if you don’t agree.

 The Ultimate Chocolate Cake

1 cup butter, plus extra to grease the pan

2 cups all purpose flour

2 cups sugar

1 ½ teaspoons baking soda

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

½ cup buttermilk

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

 Lightly grease a 9×13 inch pan with butter.  Combine butter, cocoa, and 1 cup water in small saucepan and stirring over medium heat, turn it off as soon as it comes to a boil. Make sure all the cocoa is dissolved.  Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes.  Combine the flour, sugar, and baking soda in the bowl of a stand mixer (or large bowl if using a hand mixer).

Pour the cocoa mixture into the flour mixture, along with the buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla and beat for 3 minutes.  Pour into prepared pan and bake until firm and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, approximately 30-40 minutes.  Let cool on a rack for 10 minutes before turning out of pan onto the rack. Allow to cool completely before frosting. 

 

Asparagus Puff Pastry Tart

aspargus puff pastry tart.jpg

1 frozen puff pastry, thawed

5 oz fontina cheese, shredded

1 to 1 1/2 pounds asparagus

olive oil to drizzle

salt and pepper

 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  On a floured surface, roll the puff pastry into a 16×10 inch rectangle.  Trim uneven edges and place onto a baking sheet (I used parchment paper).  Take a knife and lightly score the dough 1 inch from the edges to mark a rectangle, then pierce the dough with a fork inside the markings at 1/2 intervals.  Bake until golden, about 15 minutes.  Do not worry if it is “puffed” up.

Remove the pastry from the oven and sprinkle with cheese. Trim the bottoms of the asparagus to fit crosswise inside the tart shell and lay them in a single layer over the cheese, alternating ends and tips.  Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Bake until asparagus is tender, about 20 minutes.  This tart would work well with a variety of other vegetables, including mushrooms or bell peppers.  Experiment with your favorite!

Pizza Fondue

pizza fondue 001

 
This make a great appetizer for sure, but I’ve long served it as a quick dinner for my girls.  I’ve paired it in the picture with crostini but it’s also great with garlic bread as a dipping tool!  The recipe calls for mozzarella cheese and one thing I want to point out is that mozzarella can be a salty cheese, so choose wisely, or at least know how it tastes before you put it into this recipe.  If you make it and it turns out too salty, try adding a little more cheddar.  Other add-ins could be those that you’d put on to a pizza, such as sliced olives, diced pepperoni, green peppers etc., so whether you try this for dinner or a game-day appetizer table, you can make it your own.
 
                                                                         Pizza Fondue
 
1 pound ground beef
1 Tablespoon oregano
24oz jar marinara sauce
16oz grated cheddar
10oz grated mozzarella cheese
 
In a large skillet over medium heat, brown the ground beef until well done.  Add the marinara sauce and oregano and mix well.  Stir in both cheeses and stir until the cheeses melt.  Keep warm in a chafing dish if serving as an appetizer.  Serve with crostini or thin slices of garlic bread.

Original Chex™ Puppy Chow

Puppy Chow

So even though my girls grew up loving this sweet treat, I recently brought this to a  puppy-themed  birthday party for a friend and it was still a hit with the grown ups.  Yes, I still do “themed” birthday parties with my friends! What’s that saying about age?  It’s only a number. And you’re never too old to have a birthday party with all the trimmings.  Anyway, I’ve also always thought this snack would be a cute addition to a Halloween costume for a little one dressed as a puppy… they could carry it around in a little dog dish as an accessory to their costume.  Whenever you make it, you can guarantee it won’t last long!  

 
Original Chex™ Puppy Chow
 
 
9 cups Chex cereal (I like Rice Chex)
1/4 butter
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 cup chocolate chips
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 to 2 cups powdered sugar
 
In a small, heavy-bottom pan over very low heat melt the butter,  peanut butter, and chocolate chips; stir in vanilla and remove from heat.  Pour Chex cereal into a large bowl and pour chocolate mixture over, gently mixing until all is evenly coated.
Pour half of the powdered sugar into a large paper bag and pour the coated cereal into the bag.  Pour the rest of the powdered sugar on top and fold top of bag several times to “seal.”  Shake bag gently for several minutes to thoroughly coat the cereal with powdered sugar.  If you open bag and some of the cereal is still wet and dark chocolate in appearance, add more powdered sugar in necessary, re-close bag and continue shaking.  If you don’t have a large enough bag to do the whole batch at once, do two smaller batches at a time.  Store in an air-tight container.

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