Baked Sunday Mornings: Mile-High Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Buttercream

20130901-123613.jpg

I did NOT want to make this cake. I knew it was going to be delicious, but I just wasn’t in the mood for a layer cake, especially a SIX LAYER cake. I didn’t have an occasion to make it for and I hate having to toss yummy cake that was just too much for us to eat. I had bought the chocolate and heavy cream so I knew I’d end up making the cake, even though I would procrastinate like crazy first.

20130901-121437.jpg

I made the layers on Thursday, planning to finish it on Friday in time to share at my PTO night of gossip meeting. That didn’t happen.

20130901-121326.jpg

I asked my husband to cut the three layers in half for me, I was terrified of making a giant crumbly mess. He did a great job.

20130901-121718.jpg

I procrastinated the buttercream for hours–I put the kids to bed, I cleaned the kitchen from top to bottom….I listened to my favorite podcast…and finally I worked up the nerve to give it a shot. I always did fine with the Baked buttercream, but one batch failed recently when our A/C was acting wonky. I guess the heat just messed it up. But even after several successful cooked buttercreams, it just took that one bad egg to shake my confidence. When it turned out beautiful and fluffy…it was the best feeling in the world. Doing a happy dance in my kitchen at one am–well, I’m glad I was alone. 🙂

20130901-122031.jpg

The next step was assembling the layers. It took me a second to realize how to get the layers together without breaking the cakes. I used a flexible cutting board, slid them on and placed them one by one on the yummy buttercream. The layers made me laugh, the looked like Shel Silverstein-style flapjacks…tall and kind of leaning to the side. I didn’t mind.

20130901-122215.jpg

Finishing cakes is just not my strong point. I just don’t have enough focus to make them perfect. Once I feel good about the baking process I just want to get to the eating part. I might make it a goal to work on decorating, but right this second I don’t have a lot of interest.

I’ve noticed a direct correlation between the time of day I am baking and what the finished product looks like. When I am doing middle of the night baking (I’m a night owl and sometimes it takes forever to get the youngest boy settled down) my cakes end up looking a bit more…whimsical.

20130901-123219.jpg

Why did I choose to use my wavy-frosting comb thing? I don’t know. It was 2am and for some reason I remember thinking ‘it looks kind of like a tree trunk!’ I went to bed with a clean kitchen and a giant cake chilling in the fridge. I giggled a bit when I uncovered it this morning, but loved seeing how great the layers looked and how pretty it looked on the plate. If it had have been a birthday cake I would have covered it with sparkly, pretty candles and sang my loudest to distract from the fact that my cake was a bit imperfect wobbly. Of course my cake testers loved it and proclaimed it the BEST CAKE IN THE WORLD! (they kind of say that about everything I bake ;))

20130901-123556.jpg

20130901-123605.jpg

Go over and see how my fellow bakers fared…did they cut the three cakes into six layers? Did their buttercream turn out? I’m going over to find out now!

Next up: Orange Almond Ricotta Cheesecake…yummy!! (and just one layer!!)

Baked Sunday Mornings: Cream Cheese Chocolate Snacking Cookies

20130607-222012.jpg

It’s a miracle these cookies ended up in the oven– the dough was so smooth and tasty on it’s own. Almost like pudding.

And if you know me at all, you know that chocolate pudding is one of my huge weaknesses.

20130607-222158.jpg

But they did get baked and I was very happy with the final product. Soft and chewy cookie, perfect size. They taste even better as they cool. I used a medium scoop and got about 30 cookies.

20130607-222347.jpg

We have friends coming over for dinner tonight and my sweetie suggested I make homemade chocolate malt ice cream sandwiches for the dessert.

I was planning on making these cookies for them but loved CCCSCs so much that I made a second batch of dough just for the sandwiches. (without chocolate chips)

The original batch of cookies I am definitely keeping for snacking. 🙂

I had a ladies’ clothing swap to go to and took a bag of cookies with me. Otherwise I know I would have single-handedly eaten them all!

20130607-223016.jpg

Since I had to throw out more than half of my Mississippi Mud Pie, I was happy to share the cookies with friends. We made a valiant effort, but it was just too much pie for two people to handle. A batch of cookies is much easier to finish off!

I’ll include the outcome of the ice cream sandwiches in a separate post, it was my first time making chocolate malt ice cream and I can’t wait to let you know how it turned out!

In the meantime head over and see how my Baked Sunday Mornings friends’ cookies turned out!

Next up: (in two weeks) Banana Mousse Parfaits! Can’t Wait!

Baked Sunday Mornings Next Up: Cream Cheese Chocolate Snacking Cookies

20130604-111604.jpg

I wrote my last Baked Sunday Mornings post in a hurry. I didn’t write it before I went out of town and was too tired on Saturday when I returned. I wrote it before work on Sunday and forgot to mention what we were baking next!

20130604-112530.jpg

We are working from the Baked Elements book and this weeks’ recipe is cream cheese chocolate snacking cookies.

The name is funny to me because in my world every cookie is great for snacking, but I am especially excited about this recipe because I don’t believe I’ve ever put cream cheese in a cookie before. Also, it has the word chocolate in it so I’m in!

I also have to admit that I do not yet own the Elements book, so in between work appointments I am going to stop by the book store and grab it. I saw from another blogger that these cookies are hard to photograph…and the pictures are not my strong point in the first place, so I’ll have to look for a cute plate or something while I’m out!

What’s going on in your kitchen this week?

School’s Out for the Summer!

20130603-225556.jpg

Last Friday was the final day of 2nd grade for my big littles. The year went by pretty quickly, and I felt like this by the end, but since I am on the PTO board it was a huge final push to pull off the biggest party we had all year–The End of Year Bash!

20130603-232046.jpg

We did silly huge projects like candy balls and staying at the school all night to pop corn and make hundreds of bags of cotton candy. (so many that the machine conked out, hopefully not permanently) Even though we were all tired, it was so amazing to come together to make something fun and awesome happen for our kids. I love being a part of the community that we are building.

We had face painting, a dance party, a really amazing photo booth, sno-cones, plus the aforementioned cotton candy and popcorn. The kids were pretty amped up all day, and so was I after drinking a giant coffee:

20130603-230826.jpg

I had such a fun time volunteering and seeing how much fun the kids were having, and getting to hang out with my guys:

20130603-234438.jpg

I was so energized by the party and the caffeine that I decided to drive alone with all 3 boys to Dallas for my family’s memorial. I am so glad I went, but on the drive home after school to pack I was definitely wondering if I had lost my mind.

I had to stop by Target to get my guys some dressy-ish attire, all of their black pants and polos are pretty tired after being worn to school all year. That required another huge coffee.

20130603-232737.jpg

And then we were ready to hit the road.

20130603-232804.jpg

The service was lovely and my boys were not as weirded out by it as I had thought they might be. They were both very sweet and said they were happy to learn so much about family members that were such awesome people. It felt really good to hear them say that.

20130603-232927.jpg

Dealing with another loss kicked off a huge wave of processing things I have gone through in my life and really evaluate where I am at and who I am. It’s intense when things like that happen suddenly, especially if/when the circumstances were very tragic, like they were in this case.

20130603-233239.jpg

After our quick trip I dropped my boys off at their dad’s house to start his summer visitation with them. It was very jarring to be on this hurried trip, then have to say goodbye for a couple of weeks suddenly. I didn’t really get a good chance to work up to it in my mind, so it still feels weird to not hear their sweet little chipmunk voices at home.

In some ways I am thankful for the chance to get to regroup and plan our summer activities. I definitely feel like I am scrambling to get back to normal life, to work, to the whole balancing act. If I had to try and plan a fun (yet educational!) summer break right now I may actually fail miserably.

I definitely want to do this, then make a list of things I hope to do when the guys return. I’m looking forward to a summer filled with love, laughter, swimming, exploring, learning, crafting and relaxing.

I hope you are planning a summer filled with love and family too!

Baked Sunday Mornings: Cornmeal Griddle Cakes

20130518-163502.jpg

I was looking forward to making these all week. I had plans to surprise my honey with breakfast before I had to go to work for a bit.

My plans were thrown off first by my sweetie getting sick mid-week, then by a surprising and very weird tragedy that happened to my extended family on Friday.

I almost didn’t make these at all.

20130518-163710.jpg

I’m so glad I did take the time out for this project, I was a complete nervous wreck and pretty much just pacing around my house.

Cooking soothes my soul.

I had to slow down and breathe to measure, whisk and mix. Midway through the process (which I was taking my time with since Baby G was down for a nap) I felt stress and tension melt away.

As each element of the recipe came together I felt my thoughts slowing down for the first time all day.

I decide to give making my own butter a try, something I have always wanted to do but had put off because I thought it would be a pain.

20130518-164057.jpg

It was so hard to keep mixing the heavy cream after it became gorgeous, perfect whipped cream. I had already added vanilla and some lemon simple syrup (leftover from the candied lemon peel I made for the Lemon Drop cake) and it was heavenly. I bit the bullet and kept mixing.

I was surprised to hear sloshing in the mixing bowl!

20130518-164447.jpg

It made exactly one cup of buttermilk, enough for the griddlecakes!

20130518-164402.jpg

The cakes cooked up quickly and beautifully. The edges crisped up but the centers were fluffy and not at all gritty or heavy like I was imagining. They were perfect. Even my poor sick husband enjoyed them.

20130518-164630.jpg

I topped them with chopped pecans and maple syrup. The recipe made about ten, I used slightly more batter than 1/4 cup.

We at half of them and I’m freezing the other half for school day breakfast for my littles.

I would definitely make these again! (Even though some sizzling hot butter jumped out of the pan and burned my hand when I was cooking the last griddle cake!)

20130518-185001.jpg

Head on over for the recipe and to see how everyone else fared!