Tuesday, February 21, 2012

TWJ: Baking With Julia's Chocolate Truffle Tart

Wow! It is crazy how crazy the week can get. Not only have I been really busy, I have been super-tired lately. I think it has been this overcast weather. I hate it! Although it is good for baking, so that is just what I did.  Please head over to the Tuesdays with Dorie site to take a look at all the tarts that were made using Julia's recipe. Our hosts are featured over there, too, and they made some really nice looking stuff.

Mine came out rather nicely, even though I refused to try to roll out the dough and just pressed it into the tart pan like I learned from Dorie Greenspan (the D in Tuesdays With Dorie) from her Sweet Tart Dough recipe.  I must admit, this recipe was not as hard as I thought it would be and I managed to make the dough after work and the filling after the next work day. It all came together just in time for my Friday night book club! The only substitution I made was using Girl Scout Thin Mints instead of the biscotti. I did not buy any biscotti and just had to wing it! It was a really good substitute, too, in my humble opinion!

Here is how it went:


Me pressing the dough into the pan. Wrapped and froze it to bake the next day.

While the crust was cooling,  I mixed the filling together. Another forgiving recipe, because I guessed on everything; the whipping of the egg yolks, measuring out chocolate, and folding. 

And with all the guessing including the baking time (filling never seemed to be set enough), miraculously everything came out just fine!


My crust was a little crumbly, but it did taste cookie-like.




It kind of looks like a giant Reese's Peanut Butter Candy. 

Overall, it was pretty good. Next time, I think I will cover it with a ganache and build up the tart edges more on the side. This dessert did taste similar to a pudding-like brownie.  I think I would have liked the crust sweeter, but I did enjoy it better the next day as it had perfectly chilled in the fridge.

Next time, I will use the biscotti and try to roll the dough out.  There is always next time and I am pretty sure I will be make this again.

Next  up for Baking With Julia is rugelach. Hhhhmmmm. That looks good, but challenging.
Next up for my blog: The Ultimate Carrot Cake! It was that good.


Happy Baking!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

TWD Baking with Julia: White Loaves

I am so happy to be finally paying attention to my little food blog. Yes, my food blog may not get as much traffic as other big blogs (a.k.a bligs, out there) but I am happy to keep her going and to have the small following that I have. I am happy to be back with the Tuesdays With Dorie gang and baking up stuff I have never tried before, which brings me to the first challenge, homemade white bread.

I have never made homemade bread before. Sure I have made quick breads like pumpkin and banana bread, but never bread that called for dough hooks, resting, and rising. This was a treat for me and I learned a big lesson over a little thing.  In my rush to bake my bread on a rainy Saturday morning, I failed to check my yeast mixture for foaming and simply tossed it into the dough mixture after ten minutes of sitting.  When my dough failed to rise after 1 1/2 hours and desperate warming up (think griddle),  I tossed it into the trashcan. I wish I had not done that after reading that I could have made some good flatbread out of it! Note to self, make sure yeast has foamed like beer before tossing it into the dough AND never throw away unleavened dough.

On my second attempt to bake this bread on Superbowl Sunday, I made sure that my yeast was good and that it looked like this:
Foamy yeast=good yeast
I also made sure to use a good bread flour. King Arthur Flour always seems to get rave reviews from the baking community. For this one instance, I  fought the urge to use my usual generic flour (which I like a lot) and splurged on the KAF.  I was covering all my bases the second time around.

May need to conduct a flour challenge soon!

 Here are some images from my first homemade bread baking experience.

Nothing like the Kitchen Aid mixer dough hook giving a good beat down! 

Pretty. So soft and smooth. 

Rise and shine. The trick is to let the dough rise long enough to fit the pan. 

Luckily I checked my bread at 30 minutes, because it was perfectly done! Thought it was overdone at first, because the bread felt hard. Upon cooling, it softened. I immediately froze the second loaf a little after it cooled.

Used the other loaf to make my son a PB&J sandwich. Now , that is love!
The bread was fresh and soft.


I would be lying if I said I did not get scared when I added in the softened butter and my dough started looking like it was falling apart! Yes, I know the instructions said this would happen and that the dough would come back together, but after my first run-through, 'what if' played through my mind.  I would also be lying if I said that seeing the simple chemical reaction of yeast acting on sugar happening before my eyes did not always amaze me. I loved seeing the dough rise and rise some more. It is magical. Ah, food science.

I asked my son after  work today how he liked the sandwich I packed him for school. He said he thought it was good. I let him in on the secret that it was made with the homemade bread I had baked.  He was surprised. 

"Mom, I thought it was store-bought bread. It was good!" 

Uh, thanks, son. I think? 

Still, I highly recommend baking your own bread. It is a very satisfying experience. It made the house smell great and is still an easy way to impress your friend, family, and neighbors. 

Thanks, Laurie of Slush and Jules of Someone's in the Kitchen  for hosting this challenge. I loved it! 

Inquiring minds can find the recipe over at their sites or in the book, Baking with Julia, pages 81-82. 
It is a very forgiving dough. I really did not do a good job of rolling it out (eventually I just hand-shaped the rectangle) or folding (did two different folds) it into the pan and it still worked! I also learned that you should let your dough rise at a room temperature of 80F. I turned on the the heat before mixing and allowed the dough to rest on my range near two burners that were on medium high.

Happy Baking!




Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Over Easy Does It


Eggs  Over Easy with Gruyere Cheese 

Putting the toddlers to bed is NEVER easy in the Little household. Trust me.  It takes a good 30 minutes of fussing and whining, before the kids let us leave the room. Then, it is another 15- 30 minutes for them to fall asleep, if we are lucky. By the time it is all said and done, we are wiped out. Yes, we feel like we  have been put through the ringer. Toddlers have a way of making you feel like you have met your match, if you were a match for them.

With this chaos awaiting us every night, it is no wonder that I really like to cook up simple foods for the family, especially in the morning. Here is a recipe that I saw on The Chew the other day while I was running on the treadmill in the gym. While I am not a big fan of the show, it is something to watch while I am running out my miles. Mario Batali demonstrated one of his favorite meals to make for himself while his family is away, Duck Eggs Over Easy with Fontina. Since I did not have duck eggs (which sounds amazing to me) and no fontina, I improvised. A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do. This is what I did:


Cooked hen eggs sunny side up  on medium heat with melted butter until inner whites are firm with melted butter.
Then, topped with Gruyere cheese.


Gently flipped egg over to cook over easy for 15 seconds.
 I did baste it with a little butter. 

Did the other side as well. Be careful NOT to over cook.
Should take a little less than 15 seconds more.
Finally, I topped toasted wheat bread with  the over easy eggs.  Sprinkled salt and pepper and more cheese over eggs.
Next time,  I will use a heartier whole wheat bread that this meal deserves.
For me, the best part of the meal, besides being quick and easy, is the runny yolk flavored with nutty and slightly sweet gruyere cheese oozing all over the toasted bread as you cut into it.  The taste is simply divine.  It is a simple meal to make every day, for a Sunday brunch, or a solo dinner. Paired with fruit and a good juice or my preferred cup of coffee, this dish is just SIMPLY perfect.

What takes do you have on making this dish even better?





Saturday, January 21, 2012

Cooking Light's Incredibly Easy Cocoa Fudge Cookies

Cooking Light Cocoa Fudge Cookies

I absolutely love to bake on the weekends. For me, it is my "me" time. I especially love when I find a recipe that is easy to make and tastes like it wasn't. This is one of those recipes.

When I woke up this morning, I knew I had to bake something, but since my hubs and I are doing the buddy-system weight-loss thing, I had to make sure that whatever I baked was semi- lightened up.  We have been doing a pretty good job so far counting calories, but I must create something sweet. Anything.  So, it might as well be a lower calorie, lower fat recipe that promises to taste like the real deal.

I scanned for chocolate treats on the Cooking Light website. One because we love chocolate. Two because chocolate is therapeutic. Three because Valentine's Day is around the corner and well, I promise that day will be full of tempting treats coming out of my kitchen. I can't help myself. Food is love d@m*it!

While there were several beautiful recipes to be found, I settled on this one, because it looked easy and pantry-friendly. Looks can be deceiving , but not in this case. This recipe is really easy to do in a pinch and if you are used to baking semi-regularly, then you should have most of the ingredients on hand. This is close to being a 30- minute recipe.

Here is how it went down:

Melt butter.  Remove from heat and add cocoa. This is glorious. 

Next, add sugars to the cocoa mixture. Will look coarse.

Add yogurt and vanilla extract to the mix. 
Then, stir in the flour mixture. 
This is how the battered looked after I was done. Ugly, but tastes so good!

Drop the batter into tablespoon balls on lightly greased pan. Then, bake in a preheated 350F oven for 7-10 minutes.


Allow cookies to cool on pan until firm (2-3 minutes).

Then, allow cookies to completely cool on rack. Recipe makes about 2 dozen cookies. 

I made one substitution. I used vanilla-flavored low fat yogurt instead of the plain stuff. I never buy the plain stuff, but I should for instances like these. However, I lucked out, because vanilla extract was an ingredient called for in this recipe, so I felt justified.  To make up for the yogurt, I reduced the extract to half a teaspoon.

These cookies were super-fudgy tasting. They also had a cake-cookie texture. My husband agreed and said he could eat the whole batch, so I put them out of sight in the pantry. They are now property of the boys and girls in the Little household. If we do well on our calories for today, I will sneak one out for me and him. To the victors...

Next time I bake these babies up, I am going to dip half of them in dark chocolate. I think that would dress them up nicely. A little sprinkle of flour de sel may look spiffy, too. These are definitely the little black dress of cookies.

Give them a try and tell me what you think. Time for me to go run, so I can earn my cookie!




Saturday, January 14, 2012

Cooking Light Enchilada Casserole

Here is a post for those of you who made the resolution to eat better in the New Year for health reasons or  to lose weight. My hubs and I are always interested in eating a low-cal, low fat recipe that does not involve rabbit food. We are all about the comfort food. While I can appreciate a good salad and a side of fruit, it is just not his thing. For this reason I am always on the hunt for a hearty meal that has been lightened up. Hence, today's post reviewing Cooking Light's Enchilada Casserole found in their Jan/Feb 2012 edition.

Enchilada Casserole from Cooking Light


The recipe ( <-- click for the recipe) is ready in 40 minutes and what I especially like about Cooking Light is that they offer you a game plan (Rachel Ray's magazine does the same thing). This is a big help. What I HATE about some recipes that have "Ready In So Many Minutes"- claim is that they usually don't come anywhere near that time frame. They usually go over. This one doesn't. In fact, because I did not make the spicy black beans side that accompanied this recipe in the magazine, my time was shorter by five to ten minutes. Even if you make the beans and should see the 40 minute mark, then I promise you, this meal is really easy to make, even for a weekday.

While I usually try to stay true to a recipe, I did make some substitutions. First, I  added corn tortillas instead of whole wheat flour. To make the serving size of 4 spread out, I used extra layers of tortillas. I also used lean 96/4 ground beef instead of sirloin. I also used fresh minced garlic instead of minced garlic from a jar.  The casserole hit the spot. The only tip I would use when I make this recipe again (and I will make it again soon since the entire family liked it) is to dip the tortillas in the sauce tomato mixture before layering and baking. The tortillas need to be soft like a really enchilada. My casserole had al dente tortillas if that makes any sense, but it was still good.

What is the damage after it is all said and done? According to Cooking Light it is the following:

Calories- 377, Fat- 14.6g (sat 7g., mono 5.3g, poly 1.6g), Protein- 302g, Carb- 32.4g   (please visit the recipe for the rest of the nutritional values)

Not too shabby, when you consider the non-lightened up versions can run you up to twice that or more.

How to make your house smell like a Mexican Cantina...


Well, I am looking forward to starting up Tuesdays with Dorie soon. We will be baking from Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan.  I am sure my coworkers will enjoy it too, since they will be getting most of the goodies so that all my Cooking Light efforts are not in vain!





Sunday, January 8, 2012

Louisiana Fish Fry Cajun Etouffe Review

photo courtesy of Louisiana Fish Fry website

I moved to the great city of Houston, Texas, almost 11 years ago from my hometown of Wichita Falls, Texas. To that point, the most exotic food I had eaten was Chinese. However, after living in an international city such as H-Town for over a decade, I have been privileged to taste all types of cuisine from Indian to Brazilian and everywhere in between and beyond. However, the food that I have come to adore the most is Cajun cuisine. I had lived here for well over 7 years before I really came to appreciate the stuff. It is no coincidence that this happened to be about the time I married my hubby and he took me to his hometown of Lafayette to show it off. While not all of the food joints he took me to upon our visit were Cajun, the ones I remember  fondly are. Since eating at the abundant Cajun places there and here in Houston, one of the foods I crave the most BY FAR is étouffée. I love it! It is a well-spiced gravy-like dish usually served with chicken, shrimp, or crawfish blended in over rice. I love it served over a good buttermilk biscuit, too. It is great comfort food. While it can be served as a side, I tend to eat it as a meal. I guess you could think of it like macaroni and cheese, but better.

My thing is to compare homemade recipes with grocery store fare. I will try lots of short cuts and mixes just for fun and to share with busy cooks. While homemade étouffée is not hard to make, nothing is easier than ripping open a bag and mixing stuff in and allowing the combination to cook. The hardest thing is making such an effortless concoction taste, well, as good as homemade. So when I browsed the  aisles at the grocery store for étouffée mixes, I came across Louisiana Fish Fry 's Cajun Étouffée mix. It had received great reviews, so I was very eager to try it!

Here is how it goes in a nut shell:

Melt butter in a good pot, like a Dutch oven. 

Then, slowly add mix into the melted butter while stirring. 

Allow the mix to cook just until the mix turns a medium brown.

Finally, add water and meat of choice (in my case shrimp) and allow dish to finish cooking.


Serve étouffée over cooked rice and enjoy!


It was really this easy to do. The cooking and setting time (after dish is made) take almost 45 minutes. But it is a dish you can bring together in a pinch and walk away from with just occasional stirring in between. I made this dish on Thursday night for my family, so it is definitely easy to do during a work week.

But how was the taste? The taste was really good and authentic, but a little cheesy tasting, which is not a bad thing at all! My hubby really liked it and so did my boys. While it does contain Cajun spices, it is not overly spicy. But, if you have kids who do not like spice even in moderation, then this is not the meal for you. But, it is definitely a good meal to choose for company.  When using shrimp, add less water than the instructions call for, because of the extra water the shrimp will release upon cooking. I used 3/4 cup less and that seemed to work fine.

On the Louisiana Fish Fry site, I gave this mix a 4.75 out of 5.  All products have room for improvement, especially regarding salt content.

Well, that is all I have for now folks. Happy Sunday and happier eating!

Now, GEAUX try it.



Saturday, December 31, 2011

Hold-The- Mayo-Please- Artichoke Spinach Dip


Healthy and Delicious: Spinach Artichoke Dip from Serious Eats


I miss blogging. How many times have I said and written this? Several. I still cook and bake like crazy. I still take photos using my trusty iPhone. I still think of how awesome it would be to blog about what I am cooking and baking on a daily basis. After all, my number one way to show I care is too cook and bake for someone or everyone and/or to share recipes that I am excited about or have tried.  While I never make New Year's resolutions, I do think that it is as good as a time as any to recommit myself to my blog.

I had hope to share the following recipe on Shelby's site over at The Life and Loves of Grumpy's Honeybunch for her 4- year  blog anniversary highlighting appetizers, but of course, I ran out of time and steam. So, dearest Shelby, I am sorry, but I want you to know that your blog is one of the first food blogs (or blogs period) that I ever followed and you will always hold a special place  in my blogosphere for that very reason. Another reason is Shelby has a really down-to-earth and amazing looking  blog. Her site is really good. I strongly recommend that you go over there and take a look at her life and loves and cooking.

If you know me, then you know I HATE mayonnaise and Miracle Whip. I can't stand either of them and never use them when I can help it. That is why when I was looking for a spinach artichoke dip recipe that did not use mayo, I googled, spinach artichoke dip that does not use mayo. Brilliant, I know. The recipe that came up was this one from Serious Eats.  I especially like that it does not use frozen spinach, which at times, IMHO, tastes like seaweed. I love using fresh spinach. The recipe is deemed as "aces", so I just had to try it and see if it is.

It is.

My spin on the recipe was to divide it into individual ramekins for serving and placement. I also added extra mozzarella on top of the spinach artichoke mixture before baking it to give the dip a little more poof and brown puffiness. Other than that, I stuck true to the recipe and LOVED it. The recipe  calls for three cloves of garlic which really is perfect for a garlic lover like myself. This dip came out creamy and rich and complimented the Stacy Pita chips I served along with it. I highly recommend this recipe EVEN if you like mayo.

I wish all of you a Happy New Year! I really hope to see more of you in the New Year and will stop by your blogs very soon to see how y'all are doing and what y'all are making.

Be safe and be happy!





Saturday, November 5, 2011

Easy Does It: Homemade Candy Bars

With a house full of chaos, a full-time job, and a passion for cooking and baking, the saying, "easy does it" fits right in in my household. I found this recipe somewhere last year and fell in love with it. It is easy and tastes just like a Butterfinger.



I took  a dozen to work and they were gone in minutes! Made some more for a quick dessert after work last night.

Crisp peanut butter centers covered in smooth milk chocolate.


They are so good that people will assume they were difficult to make, but they are not.  Here is the recipe:


Ingredients


1 Jar of Smooth Peanut Butter
1 box of graham crackers
Melting chocolate (I used bark chocolate)


Directions


 First, make small peanut butter sandwiches with graham crackers. Then, chill the sandwiches in the fridge for about 30 minutes.  Finally, dip the sandwiches in the melted chocolate using tongs or roll the sandwiches around with a fork in the melted chocolate. Place the  chocolate- covered sandwiches on wax paper until the chocolate sets.  For the swirls, dip a fork in the melted chocolate and swirl over set chocolate sandwiches. Then, let the sandwiches sit for just a little while longer until that chocolate sets. If you wish, place the now candy bars into the fridge to have icebox candy bars or eat as is. 


This is a really simple recipe with three ingredients.  These are great for an after school treat or midnight snack. However, for Christmas, I plan on making a variety filled with marshmallow creme, Nutella, and caramel, as well as, peanut butter. They are a thoughtful and inexpensive gift to make for several people, such as, coworkers and neighbors. I may even take them to my next cookie exchange.

I have been gone for a long time and have missed blogging. Now, I hope to come back more often, at least once a week, to share my fall baking and kitchen adventures with you all once again.

Happy Fall Back, everyone!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Très Chocolates Cake


I love to bake cakes for people. I will volunteer every chance I get to make one for a special occasion. Well, if it is for a small crowd - occasion. I guess it is the artist in me. Not the artist that draws a horse that looks like a messed up dog but the artist that can see chocolate for what it is, perfect, especially layered.

So, when my colleagues decided to throw our coworker a bridal luncheon for just us gals, I volunteered to make the cake. Not just any cake, but a Hershey's chocolate cake. Dressed from bottom to top and in between with more and more chocolate. 


I added the batter into two 9" pans. Baked the cakes and cooled them. While the cakes baked and cooled, I made the frosting filling and ganache icing.  I always use the same ganache recipe found on the Joy of Baking site.  It also gives you instructions on how to properly layer and ice a cake with ganache (or any frosting or icing for that matter). First, I sliced the 2 cakes in half to make a 4- layer cake. I added my frosting to the layers and stacked them, making sure I put a nice flat smooth cake layer on top to round off the cake. I then, brushed off the excess crumbs from the cake with a paper towel in a sweeping motion. I highly recommend Youtube for demonstration videos on how to do this. A smooth side and crumb coating make a big difference to a homemade cake. The crumb coating is a thin layer of the frosting or icing, in this case, ganache, applied to the outside of the cake. The crumb coating traps the crumbs and keeps a smooth finish on your cake while you frost. I left mine on my cake for about 30 minutes in the fridge just to be safe. For regular frosted cakes not using ganache or whipped topping, you can let the crumb coat set for 15 minutes at room temperature. 

Next, I frosted the Tres Chocolates cake with the ganache icing by basically dumping the melted chocolate over the cake and spreading it evenly over the cake. If some of the chocolate drips on your serving platter, just use a warm, clean cloth to wipe it off the edges. You can even place the cake on a wire rack with a catching tray or liner of some sort and frost it that way. Then, you let the chocolate on the cake set really good before lifting it up and placing it on your serving tray. 

Finally, I added dipped strawberries that I made with seasonal fresh fruit and melted Hershey's kisses with a touch of butter. Of course, you dip the strawberries in melted chocolate and let them set on wax paper until hard. Then, you transfer the dipped strawberries on top of the cake. I made one for each lady that RSVP'd. 

The result? A very rich chocolate cake that made a blushing soon-to-be bride very happy. Her guests, too. 
I really loved the moist, dense texture of the cake and the combination of different chocolates was really nice. The strawberries added a special touch, too. This cake goes perfectly with a nice glass of wine or champagne, even a tall glass of cold milk!

This cake is not difficult to make, but it does take a little time. 

I will definitely make it again for fellow chocoholics like me! 



Saturday, July 30, 2011

Banquet: Quick and Easy Dinner Fix

Yes, I am one of those mothers. A mother who shamelessly buys her kids frozen nuggets for a meal in a pinch. I am guilty.  If you are guilty of this too,  then here is a good recipe for you to try out during the weekday when you need something fast, easy, and filling! The recipe is courtesy of Banquet of ConAgra Foods.

photo courtesy of ConAgra Foods


Chicken Broccoli Rice Skillet

Ingredients
  • 18 frozen Banquet® Chicken Nuggets
  •   PAM® Original No-Stick Cooking Spray
  • 2 cups frozen broccoli cuts
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 can (10-3/4 oz each) condensed broccoli cheese soup
  • 2 cups instant white rice, uncooked
  • 1/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Directions
  1. Bake chicken nuggets according to package directions. Spray large skillet with cooking spray; heat over medium-high heat until hot.
  2. Add broccoli*, milk, water and condensed soup to skillet; stir to combine. Bring mixture to a boil; add rice and stir. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 5 minutes or until water is absorbed.
  3. Top rice mixture with hot nuggets and sprinkle with cheese. Place skillet in oven 1 to 2 minutes or until cheese melts.

*If your kids are picky and do not like broccoli, add corn or green beans instead (or another veggie they will eat). 

This is really a nice combination of comfort food, but it can have some healthier substitutions made in place of many of the ingredients. For examples, you can replace the whole milk with 1% or 2% milk and add low fat cheese soup with a combination of brown rice and white rice. If you use brown rice, add EXTRA water (1/2 to 3/4 cup) for the brown rice to have enough water to absorb and cook. You could also use low fat cheddar cheese. 

Enjoy an easy and tasty meal without the fuss. The battered chicken gives a nice touch to the ordinary chicken and rice casserole dish. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

My Comeback: Dorie Greenspan's Perfect Party Cake


It has been a long time since I have posted. I have missed my blog while adjusting to being back at work full time. It has been a successful return and now I am ready to pick up where I left off when I stayed at home. I still bake and cook. It's my therapy. Of course, with school out, the meals are slim on the weekdays and usually I save the special stuff for the weekends. With everyone here and there and everywhere since curfews are later, it is just easier this way. 

So when a special occasion comes along, let's say for example, a birthday...Well, I am bound to go a little crazy with the food. 

This is just what happened when I hosted my daughter's Big 3 birthday party with a small turnout. I laid out her favorite foods (okay, and some of mine, too). 




 Since the theme was Summer, I laid out picnic-like fare meets toddler treats spread. In the background, you can see the main attraction, Dorie Greenspan's Perfect Party Cake.

Now, I have made a copy cat version of this recipe years before (which explains why I didn't remember it being hard the last time, since I cheated by using a box mix two years ago, unlike this time around).



While this cake does have several steps to it, it is by no means difficult for semi-experienced bakers. Beginners may want to plan well ahead for it.   It does take  a little more time and effort than a box mix, but, to me, it was and is worth it. I am on a roll for over four years now making homemade cakes for ALL special occasions in our home instead of buying them, not that I mind store-bought cakes at all.  However, there is simply something magical about homemade cakes, especially ones that are fluffy white with sprinkles. Notice the smash cake next to the big cake? Cute, huh?


 Here is a closeup of the moist, fluffy, light-tasting lemon-raspberry cakey goodness. While Dorie suggests eating this cake the day it is made, I find that the cake tasted better a day later. The lemon flavor seemed to perk up a little more the next day in the cake and in the frosting.


While my cake layers do not look as pristine as Dorie's, I was pretty happy with the final result. I think with a little more time and room in my fridge, I will be able to set the cake with jam first. Then, add the buttercream last and chill in the fridge again for a final set and more distinct layering.  Also, I will make 1 1/2 servings of buttercream for this cake, since I like a thicker topping.

 It's a pretty safe bet that make this cake again. I think it is a perfect base cake for an ice cream cake, without the jam filling. The buttercream is light and fluffy (and would also work on an ice cream cake), although I will probably add a little more lemon juice to it in the future and some butter flavoring extract, too.

It really is a pretty cake. Perfect for the summer. Really perfect for a Princess' cake. And I am so happy it is my first Comeback Post.

If you would like to give this awesome cake recipe a try, you can find a great post by Ezra Pound Cake about it and the recipe here.  Before you make it, here is a post with some very helpful tips from a site I used to participate in ages ago.

It is good to be back!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Easy Icebox Pudding Cake



This is the time of year for picnics and BBQ's. I have been to several already and don't let my lack of posts fool you, I have been busy in the kitchen. I wish I could sit down and share some recipes with you more often. I really love to share the easy ones, that is why I just had to make the effort to post this summer time favorite treat. It is simple and so good. It is convenient and affordable to keep the ingredients  on hand and make in a pinch. My Aunt Becky taught me how to make it many many years ago.  I committed it to memory, which is always a crap shoot with me, but when you taste it, you will see why it stayed. To date, it is one of my twin sister's favorite dish.

Here is how I did it:

Ingredients
1- box of graham crackers
2- boxes of French Vanilla Pudding
1- container of chocolate syrup 
Large container of whipped topping 
or
4 cups of Homemade whipped topping

Directions:

1. First, layer your graham crackers all around a 13 X 9 dish. I made sure the entire bottom was lined. I had to crack the crackers in irregular pieces to get the entire sides covered (not shown here). It does not have to be pretty. Trust me. It will still look layered.


2. Next, make your pudding according to directions. Add 1/2 of whipped topping to the pudding. 


 3. Then, cover top of graham crackers with 1/2 of the pudding mixture.


 4. Drizzle chocolate syrup on top of the pudding layer.


 5. Stack another layer of graham crackers as before. Repeat pudding and chocolate syrup steps again.


 6. To the last graham cracker layer, add a generous amount of chocolate syrup.


7. With the back of  a large spoon or spatula, smooth the chocolate syrup out evenly.


8. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before topping with whipped cream. If you are taking it with you, add the whipped topping after 30 minutes. Then, let the topped dessert set in the fridge for another 30 minutes or as long as possible before covering with plastic wrap. If you are using a casserole dish with cover ignore that step.

9. Enjoy!



I added chocolate shavings to the top of dessert. I have also used mini chocolate chips, cocoa dust, and toasted pecans in the past.

Just have fun with it. It is easy and it goes QUICKLY. Kids love it, too!

There are many versions of this dessert. I have made several different ones, too. This is still my favorite. All though, going all chocolate ties easily (chocolate graham crackers, pudding, and topping)! I would really be interested in seeing others, so let me have them.