A slow cake that’s worth waiting for

WELL WE HAVE BOTH BEEN AWAY from blog-land for quite some time. Life has gotten crazy for the both of us! Sarah just recently moved into a new house, and I have had the pleasure of experiencing my two and a half year old getting her molars in (not pretty). I finally return triumphant with a recipe that I have wanted to share on here since the first time I made it. That first taste was absolutely pure heaven. Add this to the list of recipes for which a small serving goes a long way – this cake is extremely rich and decadent. If it weren’t, would I love it so much?? I think not. ūüėČ It is a cake that cooks in the slow cooker, and let me say, before I actually made it, I was extremely skeptical that it would even work. A cake from the slow cooker? Isn’t it going to be too moist in there for it to cook properly? By the time it had been in for a couple of hours, I had completely changed my mind. What a great idea! And how fabulous to do this to make a cake in the summer time without having to fire up the oven when it’s ninety degrees outside. Don’t be fooled by the title; the “pudding” part refers to the gooey texture of the cake when its done (there’s no pudding in the recipe at all). This is definitely for all those cream cheese brownie lovers in your life. Give it a whirl and you will be as amazed as I was!

Enjoy! ~Sam~

Cream Cheese Brownie Pudding Cake

Ingredients:
– 1 18 oz package brownie mix
– 4 large eggs
– 1/4 cup canola oil
– 2 tablespoons water
– 1 8 oz package cream cheese, softened
– 1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
– 1/2 cup granulated sugar
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
– 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
– 3/4 cup milk chocolate chips

Directions:

1) In a medium bowl, stir together brownie mix, oil, 2 eggs and water until batter is smooth. Spoon half of brownie batter into a lightly greased 3-quart slow cooker.

2) Using the stand mixer, beat together the cream cheese and butter on medium speed until creamy; gradually add sugar, beating well. Add 2 eggs, 1 at a time, beating until blended. Stir in vanilla. Fold in flour and chocolate chips.

3) Pour cream cheese mixture over brownie batter in slow cooker. Dollop remaining brownie batter over cream cheese mixture; swirl mixture gently with a knife.

4) Cover and cook for 6 hours. Carefully remove slow cooker insert from heat element; let stand at least 45 minutes before serving.

Note: to store leftovers, I just stick the entire slow cooker bowl in the fridge. This cake reheats beautifully in the microwave.

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Cr√®me Br√Ľl√©e Pie … Luxury for a Crowd!

ImageEVERY YEAR FOR CHRISTMAS I BRING A DESSERT that will, ideally, blow people’s minds. ¬†Last year it was a fresh fruit tart with a cream base (which I hope to create as a new post for you someday), but this year I decided to bust out my kitchen blowtorch and make creme brulee. ¬†This gorgeous, wonderful dessert sounds like you spent ridiculous amounts of time in the kitchen and is far too complicated for the average foodie. ¬†It couldn’t be further from the truth! ¬†First, if you don’t have a blowtorch, you can use your broiler for 2 minutes to caramelize your sugar prior to serving. ¬†Just be sure you cover the edges of your page with aluminum foil to keep from burning the edges of your crust. ¬†Second, this saves on dishes like crazy. ¬†It’s wonderful to not have to play with multiple ramekins in a water bath in the oven. ¬†Lastly, it gives you the chance to use some of that homemade vanilla extract I taught you to make. ¬†ūüėČ ¬†Give this recipe a shot… you won’t regret it!

Cr√®me Br√Ľl√©e Pie

For the crust (or use your favorite baked pie crust recipe… your choice):

  • 35-40 vanilla wafer cookies
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 2 TBSP sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg.

Place the cookies in a gallon freezer bag and smash them into fine crumbs with a rolling pin. ¬†Add the butter, sugar, and nutmeg; mush together the ingredients in the bag until well combined. ¬†Use your hands to press the mixture into a 9″ pie plate. ¬†Set aside.

For the creme custard:

  • 2 TBSP vanilla extract, or 1/2 split vanilla bean with the seeds scraped out
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup half and half, or whole milk
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 large egg
  • 6 TBSP sugar
  • A pinch (1/8 tsp) salt

Preheat your oven to 300F. ¬†Combine your heavy cream, half and half, and vanilla in a saucepan. ¬†Heat until it’s just hot, mixing well so it won’t stick and burn to the bottom of your pan. ¬†Set aside to cool at least 30 minutes. ¬†While the cream mixture cools, beat your egg yolks, whole egg, salt, and sugar in a medium bowl until smooth (no egg chunks, please!). ¬†Once your cream is cooler, add 1/4 cup of it to your eggs and mix well to temper them… you don’t want them to scramble accidentally. ¬†Add the eggs into the cream and mix well. ¬†Pour the mixture slowly and carefully into your pie crust. ¬†Place in the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes; your custard should be basically set but wobbly in the center. ¬†This is OK because it will continue to bake as it cools. ¬†Remove the pie and carefully place on a wire rack to cool completely.

Prior to serving, sprinkle the top of the pie with about 2 TBSP of sugar and a little nutmeg (if desired) and move your blowtorch evenly and carefully along the top to brown and caramelize your sugar to make a crispy crust on the top.  If you lack the torch, place the pie (edges covered with aluminum foil) under your broiler for 2 minutes.  Keep an eye on it to be sure the sugar caramelizes instead of burns!

Serve with whipped cream on the side and perhaps a fruit compote.

Merry Christmas, and sweet foodie dreams!

— Sarah