Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Cookies and Cream Cake

When I had a friend living with me in October, I made photocopies of a couple of recipes from her cook books. I found this Cookies and Cream Cake recipe in the Cake Doctor Book and I have been wanting to make this recipe ever since. The Cake Doctor takes mainly boxed cakes and turns them into something more than a simple box cake. However, the use of the box cake makes this recipe indeed far more simple and faster than most cake recipes.

From the Cake Doctor

18 Chocolate Sandwich Cookies
Solid vegetable shortening for greasing the pans
Flour for dusting the pans
1 package (18.25 ounces) white cake mix with pudding
1 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
2 cups heavy (whipping) cream

1. Place the chocolate sand which cookies in batches in the food processors, until you have crumbs. You should have 2 1/4 cups crumbs. If not, process the cookies until you have the correct amount. Set aside.

2. Place a rack in the center of the rack and preheat the oven to 350F. Generously grease two 9-inch round cake pans with solid vegetable shortening, then dust with flour. Shake out the excess flour. Set pans aside.

3. Place the cake mix, water, oil and eggs in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 1 minute. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes more, scraping down the sides again if needed. The batter should look well combined. Fold in 1 cup of cookie crumbs until well distributed. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans, smoothing it out with the rubber spatula. Place the pans in the oven side by side.

4. Place a clean, large mixing bowl and clean electric mixer beaters in the refrigerator while the cake bakes. You will use these to prepare the whipped cream.

5. Bake the cakes until they spring back when lightly pressed with your finger, 28 to 32 minutes. Remove the pans from the oven and place them on wire racks to cool for 10 minutes. Run a dinner knife around the edge of each layer and invert each onto a rack, then invert again onto another rack so that the cakes are right side up. Allow to cool completely, 30 minutes more.

6. Prepare the whipped cream: Remove the chilled bowl and beaters from the refrigerator. Pour the cream into the bowl and beat with the electric mixer on high speed until it forms stiff peaks, 2.5 to 3.5 minutes. Gently fold in 1 cup of the remaining cookie crumbs, distributing them well. Chill the whipped cream until the cake has cooled completely.

7. Carefully slice the cake layers in half horizontally, using a large, sharp serrated bread knife or a long piece of unflavored dental floss. You will have four layers. Place the bottom half of a cake layer on a serving platter, cut side up. Spread with some of the shipped cream. Top with the matching top half of the layer, cut side down. Spread with whipped cream. Next, add the bottom half of the second layer, cut side up, and spread with whipped cream. Top with the matching top half of the layer, cut side down. Spread the top and sides of the entire cake with the remaining whipped cream using clean, smooth strokes.

8. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup cookie crumbs on top of the cake. Place the cake in a cake saver or under a glass dome and chill until time to serve.

This easy to make cake is a must have in your recipe box. It is one of the simplest cakes I have made in months and is quite tasty. It really does remind me of Cookies and Cream ice cream or a Dairy Queen blizzard with Oreos. I give this cake 4.5 out of 5 stars. I have been reviewing my reviews and I know it may sound like I am not that harsh on the cakes on my blog. However, it should be noted...that if I really hate a recipe, I am infinitely less likely to actually blog about it. I do cook and bake more than I actually blog. Anyways, if you want an easy to make cake that is sure to impress and is slightly off the beaten track...this is your cake. Happy Baking!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Perfect Chocolate Cake

I picked out this Perfect Chocolate Cake recipe from Southern Living: 40 Years of Our Best Recipes. I made this cake for two friends birthdays. (Their birthdays are literally days apart.... perfect for a joint celebration.) For this very birthday extravagana, we decided to have an awesome scavenger hunt. The list included 50 items of various point values and the time limit was an hour and a half. There was 6 of us other myself playing the hunt and it was glorious fun.


The Cake

1 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 cups boiling water

1 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 1/2 cups sugar
4 large eggs

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Whipped Cream Filling
Perfect Chocolate Frosting

1. Combine cocoa and water; stir until smooth. Set aside.
2. Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer about 2 minutes or until creamy. Gradually add sugar, beating 5 to 7 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until yellow disappears.
3. Combine flour and next 3 ingredients; add to butter mixture alternatively with cocoa mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition. Stir in vanilla. Do not overbeat.
4. Pour batter into 3 greased and floured 9 inch round cakepans. Bake at 350 F for 22 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes; remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks.
5. Spread Whipped Cream Filling between layers; spread Perfect Chocolate Frosting on top and sides of cake. Chill.

Whipped Cream Filling

1 cup whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup sifted powdered sugar

1. Beat whipping cream and vanilla until fomay; Gradually add powdered sugar, beating until soft peaks form. Cover and chill.

Perfect Chocolate Frosting

1 cup semisweet chocolate morsels
1/2 cup half and half
3/4 cup butter or margarine
2 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar

1. Combine first 3 ingredients in a medium saucepan; cook over medium heat, stirring until chocolate melts. Remove from heat; add powdered sugar, mixing well.
2. Place saucepan in a large bowl of ice. Beat at low speed with an electric mixer until frosting holds its shape and loses its gloss. Add a few drops of half and half if needed to make a good spreading consistency.

Overall, this recipe gets 4.70 out of 5 stars. This recipe surprised me in a lot of ways. Everyone loved it. I guess this surprised me in some ways. It was unexpected. I make a lot of cakes and this one got more positive response than others. The cake was moist and tender. This was my first cake that I have ever made that is three layers and it was to do this than I originally expected. I served the cake warm. However, I thought it tasted better after being cooled in the refrigerator. The frosting itself was delish. The buttercream frosting was creamy and succulent. Melt in your mouth good. The middle whipped cream filling was excellent as well. People wanted more. I will definitely make this cake again. My next goal though is to work on my cake decorating skills. My cakes presentations are still lacking and the icing jobs are still sloppy. I waited this time to ice the cake which helped lessen the "drippiness" of the icing. However, next time I need to work on smoothing out the icing more and maybe slicing some strawberries on the top to make it look prettier. Enjoy this cake!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Chicken Cobbler Casserole

Amidst my interview trail, I managed to squeeze into my busy schedule an Epiphany party with the friends in Houston. What's the epiphany you may ask? I quote Wikipedia on this, but the epiphany is a Christian holiday on January 6 celebrating the visit of the Magi to the infant Jesus. In Hispanic cultures, gifts are given on the Epiphany instead of on Christmas day. Anyways, for the party, I decided to make a Chicken Cobbler Casserole from Southern Living 40 Years of Our Best Recipes.

6 Tbsp melted butter, divided
4 cups cubed sourdough rolls
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley

2 medium size sweet onions, sliced
1 (8-oz.) package sliced fresh mushrooms
1 cup white wine
1 (10 3/4 oz.) can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup drained and chopped jarred roasted red bell peppers

1. Toss 4 Tbsp melted butter with next 3 ingredients; set aside.
2. Saute onions in remaining 2 Tbsp butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat 15 minutes or until golden brown. Add mushrooms, and saute 5 minutes.
3. Stir in wine and remaining 3 ingredients; cook, stirring constantly, 5 minutes or until bubbly. Spoon mixture into a lightly greased 9-inch square baking dish; top evenly with bread mixture.
4. Bake at 400 for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Overall, I really enjoyed this recipe. It was well received from the group too. I will definitely make it again. Next time though I will make sure to cook the chicken at the beginning so it is ready to add direction #3 when it calls for it. I give this recipe 4 out of 5 stars. My favorite part of the recipe was the mushrooms. They were excellent. :)