Tag Archives: graham cracker cake

Bear down with Brownies! And cupcakes and cookies!

13 Dec

December means a whole lot of fun for most people, celebrating holidays, enjoying peppermint mochas at Starbucks and of course devouring desserts. But if you know my brother, it also means the annual BEARS TAILGATE.

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This year was the Ninth Annual Bears Tailgate and it didn’t disappoint, well the Bears disappointed us, because they lost. But the event was still {almost} flawless. I will leave the disastrous defense, misplaced Michelle items, and the unforgettable yet difficult to remember details, out of this post, and instead tell you about the desserts I brought along. Since that is how I get my $10 discount.

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I decided to bring three different items since we were a bus of about 25 people, plus I’m always worried people won’t like things, so I bring multiples.

First up, my new favorite recipe – Bailey’s Brownies. These are pretty simple and ridiculously amazing. All you do is buy your favorite brownie mix and swap the water for Bailey’s. Don’t worry, kids can enjoy them, there’s only a shot or two in the entire box and the alcohol cooks out, but the flavor stays in and is such a complement to the chewy chocolate bites! I also added in chocolate chips to max out on the fun.

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Next, oatberries. Amanda Lee requested my signature cookie that she’d never tasted. She loved them – success.

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Finally I made some graham cracker cupcakes with green vanilla buttercream frosting topped with chocolate marshmallows that were supposed to look like footballs. These weren’t the best things I ever made because some of the bottoms burnt. Embarrassing I know, though I can probably say it was because I used foil cups – whoops, forgot I don’t like to use those.

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Also, the marshmallows were gross and no one knew they were footballs. And you know, there isn’t a 60, 70, 80 or 90 yard line on the football field. Fortunately I realized that one myself the night before the game, so at least I could laugh about my dumbness instead of having someone point it out to me!

As aforementioned, things were lost both physically and mentally, so I don’t know how many cupcakes were actually eaten, though I do know that a certain Termini dropped giardiniera on one of those 40 yardline-rs, so I made him eat that one, and the brownies were gone before kick-off!

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Delicious Resourcefulness

21 Feb

I love decorating cakes.

Of course I’m a huge fan of inventing cookies, covering stuff in chocolate and eating brownie batter from the bowl, but when I started dabbling in desserts in was to quench my creative thirst, and I did that with cake.

I can’t draw for my life, I can’t paint my own toe nails, even stick figures are difficult for me to get on paper, but I’m a really creative person. I’ve always loved artsy things as long as it involves being messy – enter cake flavor combining and designing/decorating. I used to spend hours in class drawing birthday cakes and picking the perfect combinations for my friends and family, and I got to revisit that love this weekend with my surprise visit home to celebrate my mom’s birthday.

I lied and told her I wasn’t coming, but that I was planning to order her a cake from a fancy bakery so she wouldn’t miss any deliciousness. She requested graham cracker cake, which was perfect because it was already what I was planning to bake.

My graham cracker recipe is one of my favorites, it pairs so well with chocolate, whipped cream or fruit filings and really any frosting. I’ve of course made a s’mores cake with it and quadrupled it for my college graduation party cake. Since I’m dessert free til Easter starting tomorrow, I was happy to make my favorite cake for her.

I wanted to mix it up a little so I researched how to make salted caramel filling and soaked my cakes in them. My mom said it was the best flavor addition she’d ever had – and she and my dad dipped marshmallows in the extra filling, which is the best compliment I could get.

You can watch my make the filling here – and it’s only 1 minute 45 seconds! It’s really simple and versatile.

Next I whipped up a frosting recipe I found on Pinterest – I think the first time I actually made something from there. It was amazing, but also amazingly way too much. (and I feel terrible because I didn’t pin or bookmark the recipe – oops!) I had to freeze half the batch because I couldn’t imagine throwing away so much chocolatey buttery goodness. Yes, buttery. There were 5 sticks of butter in the recipe. Which I guess should have clued me in on the amount, oh well, someday someone will come across that container in the freezer and be in chocoholic heaven.

Then came the resourcefulness. I said before I love drawing and planning cakes. Well this time I had some other things to plan, like getting on a flight with only sleeping for 4 hours or more importantly, not telling my mom I was coming home, so the cake sketches didn’t happen. Instead I ran upstairs to room #2, aka The Oz Room, and stole some stuff from my mom’s shelves.

And the cake looked ridiculously awesome. In fact the fluffiness of the frosting worked really well with the decor I chose. And, of course, the cake was really yummy and devoured and I was so so so so so happy to be there for her to make the cake and to surprise her for her birthday – which is actually tomorrow. I also covered some more kiwi in chocolate – I think I’m addicted to the sweet and sour combo.

And we had chocolate mint martini’s in honor of her love for wicked…

Happy Birthday, Mom – Love you!

(P.S. no matter what Dad says, your birthday doesn’t trump Ash Wednesday, have a drink and dessert tonight – there’s frosting in the freezer 🙂

 

Christmas in February

23 Feb

If you’ve been reading this, you know I love making cakes and wish I could do it more often – but cookies have been taking over lately. So when the restaurant where I work decided that we were getting to have a holiday party (in February – better late than never!) I jumped on the chance to make a cake. I’m always looking to impress everyone and since I don’t think I’ve ever made my co-workers cake, I decided to make my favorite graham cracker cake recipe, filled with chocolate pudding, chocolate covered marshmallows and a twist on my favorite buttercream frosting – I added in a package of hot chocolate mix.

So in addition to baking my favorite cake, I also used this opportunity to shoot my first segment for my video blog – Sweet Talk Live

So that takes care of how I made the cake 🙂 Let me know how you like the segment! There will be new ones almost every week.

Now for the inside, as I said, I grabbed a box of pudding and a bag of marshmallows and threw them inside, and then my frosting is my favorite buttercream “spiked” with hot chocolate mix – so delicious.

 

I hope everyone loved the cake, I think they did, and I will definitely revisit this combination in the future.

 

Merry Christmas Westwood! 🙂

 

 

Happy Easter – cake balls!

6 Apr

I was so lucky to have Easter Sunday off of work and be able to spend the day with my family, including my fun little niece and nephew. So, to celebrate the holiday, and to thank my co-workers for dealing with my silliness all of the time, I thought it would be a great occasion for cake balls. If you’ve never heard of a cake ball, you are missing out. I first came across these last Mother’s Day, and made red velvet, of course, for my mom. They were amazing and I kept meaning to make another flavor sometime, but I guess I forgot about them.

Cake balls originiated from Bakerella, a great baker/blogger who is super creative. Check out her site to read up about all of the different cake balls and cake pops she’s created.

While I was making these I forgot how long the process actually takes – which might be one of the reasons that I haven’t made them since May. The entire baking/decorating process took from about 10am-2:30pm, but I did take a break to color Easter eggs with my dad. The end result was amazingly delicious, I got marriage proposals at work, our chef ate about four of them, and I was able to celebrate the end of lent at midnight by toasting with my co-worker, Jami, with a fantastic chocolate-covered cake ball! (I made it -all 40 days without giving in to my favorite food ever – chocolate!)

Let me share the cake ball process.

Step #1: Bake your favorite cake in a 9×13 pan. This can be done with a boxed mix, but I hate boxed cakes, I think they’re terribly airy and flavorless. I choose my all-time favorite graham cracker cake recipe for the Easter balls.

Step #2: Prepare one recipe of frosting. Again, you can use store bought, but again I don’t do that, and I used my favorite buttercream frosting recipe and added cocoa powder to make it slightly chocolate.

Step #3: After letting the cake cool, crumble it up and add to a big bowl, mix with entire buttercream recipe. Yep, pretty much ruin that cake you just baked and mix it all up with the frosting.

Step #4: Form the cake/frosting mixture into whatever shape you want, I used my cookie scoop to make the balls, and I actually used two different sizes because the batter made so many! (I ended up with 72!)

Step #5: Freeze the balls for an hour or so, and when that time has passed, melt the chocolate according to the bag/box’s instructions and cover the balls. Then you’re done! You’ll probably want to refrigerate the chocolate covered creations. I actually ended up playing around with the covering and switched between plain chocolate and ganache so I has some consistency differences, but they all tasted and looked delicious.

I hope everyone enjoyed the yummy day – Happy Easter!

6 months and no cakes?

14 Jan

After this baking experience, I looked in my pictures and realized I hadn’t baked a cake since July. I couldn’t believe this, but it seems I have been much more cookie-minded lately, and for birthdays I had been sticking to cheesecakes and pudding pies. I’m guessing it is because cakes take a bit longer and I’ve been busy since I started waitressing, but it was a shock! My mom will definitely be getting an awesome cake for her birthday in February!

The reason I bring this up is because Monday I baked a cake and encountered some difficulties.

Problem #1: No parchment paper. So, since I’ve been so cookie-minded, not having parchment wasn’t so terrible. I used some Silpat sheets and they worked well. This isn’t the case for cake. I decided to use foil, and it was a mini mistake. My cakes lost their corner when I pulled them out of the pan.

Problem #2: As a result of losing the corners, the frosting wouldn’t stick without breaking the cake. Now, I was well aware that this was going to happen once the inside of the cake was exposed, but I figured that I could make it work. Well, eventually I was able to, but it called for MUCH more frosting than I expected.

Problem #3: Guacamole frosting. I didn’t actually make guac frosting, but i initially frosted the cake with milk chocolate frosting and then had the bright idea to make green and layer it. Result – guacamole like frosting. Lesson learned: stick to one color and remember, always make more frosting then you think you’ll need!

Enough with the problems, I can’t complain too much because the cake ended up cute and was ridiculously delicious. And I’ll tell you why – graham cracker cake batter! This is one of my absolute favorite cake recipes. I discovered it three years ago while baking Bridget’s birthday cake. She loves S’mores so I wanted a graham cracker base.

This cake is super quick and simple. All of the ingredients are thrown in a bowl at the same time, mixed up and baked. And I’m not kidding it’s an amazing flavor. It’s light and full of flavor without being super sugary.

So this is a long post because I need to explain the importance of this cake. My mom is the Chicago coördinator of ConKerr Cancer, an amazing organization that provides children in hospitals with cheerful pillowcases during their stay. The Chicago chapter reached 5,000 pillowcases and to celebrate this amazing feat, my mom

held a volunteer luncheon for the chapter. Please click the link and learn more about this great organization, it’s a great way to help children who need more smiles in their lives!

The cake was for about 30 people, so that is why I stuck with a sheet-type cake – easy to cut and serve. My mom designed the cake – a clothesline with pillowcases hanging, and even though it might not be one of my most inventive or prettiest creations, it was super yummy and a great way to celebrate ConKerr Cancer’s success. Congratulations!!

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