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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Big Whoopie Pie (Cake)! It’s Your Birthday!

A NEW ENGLAND PHENOMENON purported to come from the Amish, the whoopie pie is all the fun of an chocolate sandwich cookie without the crunchiness. ¬†I took a page from this big cookie for my uncle’s birthday today. ¬†Given that he’s a 52-year old joker who never quite grew up, I knew he would appreciate a childhood favorite as a cake. ¬†Imagine him laughing hard when he got a huge whoopie pie cake with “Big Whoop It’s Your Birthday” scrawled on the top in green frosting. ¬†Joking never tasted so sweet!

Whoopie Pie Birthday Cake

For the cake:

  • 1 cup butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder (don’t look at me like that! ¬†It actually brings out the chocolate flavor and makes people wonder what is so different… it’s a secret weapon you should practice in your chocolate recipes)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 8 Tablespoons good quality cocoa powder (always remember: the better the chocolate the better the cake will taste. ¬†I never cut corners on this step)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (or a little more if you prefer)
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 3 eggs

Frosting:

  • 3 cups confectioner’s (powdered) sugar
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-2 Tablespoons whipping cream

Make the cake: ¬†Preheat the oven to 350F; spray two round cake pans or grease and dust with cocoa powder. ¬†Combine the butter and sugar with a mixer until light and fluffy; add the eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition. ¬†Add your vanilla and mix well. ¬†Sift together your dry ingredients and slowly add to the wet ingredients, mixing well. ¬†Divide your batter into the two cake pans (I’d suggest using a measuring cup and alternating pouring into the pans that way), gently tap them on your countertop or table to remove any excess air bubbles. ¬†Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the cakes test as done. ¬†Remove from the oven and allow to cool at least 15 minutes before inverting them out of the pans.

Make the frosting:  With a whisk attachment on your mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.  Add the vanilla and cream, beat until the desired consistency.  Add more cream if necessary to make it spreadable.

Assemble the cake: ¬†Place one cake, flat side down, on a serving platter. ¬†Spread a generous layer of frosting inside the cake and bring it almost to the edge of the cake; think as thick as a sandwich cookie… don’t be shy about it! ¬†Place your second cake on top of the frosting, rounded side up. ¬†Frost the sides of the cake so they look continuous. ¬†I had “Big Whoop It’s Your Birthday” written on the top, but you could dust it with cocoa powder if you want instead.

A hint… don’t cook the cakes until they’re at that dry sort of done. ¬†The cakes will continue to cook in the pan a bit after you take them out of the oven. ¬†The cakes should have some crumbs stuck to the toothpick so that the cake stays moist at the end of it all.

Have fun, and thanks! ¬†(Disclaimer: ¬†the image isn’t mine… the cake I made didn’t last long enough to take a photo!)

— Sarah

Tiramisu Cheesecake

SPEAKING OF TASTE OF HOME, here’s a recipe straight out of Taste of Home’s iPhone app that I made last weekend when I was having company. It’s great with a cup of coffee or a glass of milk. The top of the cheesecake cracked a little bit but I didn’t mind, because I thought that the cracks gave the cake quite a bit of character. (It came out absolutely delicious even with the cracks.) I also found it very easy, especially as someone who has never made a traditional tiramisu. This cake can be served with a healthy dollop of whipped cream, which I like to add to each slice as it is cut as opposed to spreading the whipped cream over the top of the entire cake at once. You could also sprinkle some cocoa powder over the top, or if you are feeling particularly fancy, some shavings of your favorite chocolate bar. It is truly a restaurant-quality dessert.

Tiramisu Cheesecake

Ingredients

  • 1 12 oz pkg vanilla wafer cookies
  • 6 tsp instant coffee granules
  • ¬Ĺ cup hot water
  • 4 8 oz pkgs cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten

Directions

1)¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Heat oven to 325. Coat the bottom of a 9x13x2‚ÄĚ baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Layer half of the wafers in the pan. In a small bowl, dissolve the coffee in the hot water. Brush wafers with half of coffee; set remaining mixture aside.

2)       In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Beat in sour cream. Add eggs; beat on low speed just until combined. Divide batter in half. Stir remaining coffee into one portion of batter. Spread over wafers. Layer with remaining wafers. Top with remaining batter.

3)       Bake for 40-45 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Refrigerate overnight.

NOTES:

–¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† If you do not have a pastry brush you can pour half of the coffee directly over the cookies in step 1. I dissolved my coffee right in a liquid measuring cup which made it super easy.

– Please note that the photo in this post is of a generic plain cheesecake and is not the actual product of this recipe ūüôā

Toffee Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cake

NOT TO BE OUTDONE by my comrade in cooking, I needed to get this recipe up for everyone about 3 hours ago. This is simply a fabulous cake. I slightly adapted a recipe on www.allrecipes.com (“Pumpkin Cake II”) – I have to add my own little twists and turns in every recipe I make. At Two Girls, we are all about recipes that are easy to make, taste great and look beautiful. We only look like we spent hours slaving away in the kitchen. This recipe has it all. Even my pickiest-of-the-picky two-year-old Maddie LOVED it (I cut her off after two servings). It gets some added nutrition from the whole wheat flour and the wheat bran, and it really is perfect for our chilly Central New York autumn evenings. Another nice twist would be to serve it with some homemade caramel sauce (super duper easy, recipe to follow soon), or even your favorite chocolate sauce. Enjoy!

Toffee Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cake

Ingredients:

– 3/4 cup all purpose flour

– 3/4 cup whole wheat flour

– 2 tsp baking powder

– 1 tsp baking soda

– 1/4 tsp salt

– 2 tsp ground cinnamon

– 1 tsp ground nutmeg

– 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

– 1 cup canola or vegetable oil

– 1/2 cup wheat bran flakes

– 1 tsp vanilla extract

– 1 29-oz can pure pumpkin

– 3 eggs

– 1 8-oz bag English toffee bits

– 1 12-oz bag milk or semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:

1) Heat oven to 350. Coat the inside of a bundt pan generously with nonstick cooking spray.

2) In a large bowl, sift together the all purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

3) Using the stand mixer on low speed, combine the sugar and oil. Blend in the vanilla extract and the pumpkin. Add the eggs, one at a time, with the mixer running on low speed.

4) Blend in the wheat bran flakes. Gradually add the flour mixture with the mixer running on low speed. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Fold in the toffee bits and chocolate chips.

5) Scrape batter into prepared bundt pan. Bake for 60-70 minutes, or until a knife inserted near the center of the cake comes out clean. If the edges are browning too quickly, cover the rim of the pan with aluminum foil.

6) Remove from oven. Let stand for 10 minutes. Invert the pan onto a serving plate. Allow to cool slightly before slicing.

NOTES:

– I cannot live without my stand mixer. If you don’t have one (or if you have one but you don’t want to drag it out!), a hand mixer or even an old fashioned wooden spoon will do the job just fine.

– My oven can be quite touchy. I always start with the shortest cooking time (sometimes even less) and I always babysit it when I bake.

– The cake SHOULD slide easily out of the pan when you flip it upside down. If it doesn’t, turn it back right side up and carefully run a sharp knife around both the inside and outside edges.

~Sam~

Cake Batter Rice Krispie Treats

Last week at this time I was getting ready and packing for my cousin’s wedding. ¬†In the mean time, I’m thinking to myself that I really want something sweet to take with me in the car, but given that it was almost midnight I wasn’t prepared to be up all night cooking. ¬†I actually had to be lucid for my teacher inservice, so I couldn’t afford to stay up late. ¬†Enter the latest: ¬†Cake Batter Rice Krispie Treats.

Yes, indeed.  You read correctly.  Cake batter. Krispies.  I can hear your inner child screaming in sugared glee.

And it’s not like this took any additional effort. ¬†Most everyone has made rice krispie treats at one time. ¬†They’re a common bake sale staple from a harried mom whose child informs them the night before that they need something sweet and sugary for tomorrow. ¬†Having no kids myself, I was indulging my own childhood and keeping in mind that the teachers who came into my room might take my ramblings a little more calmly if they had something in their hands to nosh on.

It worked! ¬†The plate was gone before I could take the leftovers in the car with me, and I couldn’t be happier about it. ¬†Plus, we all know that you could do worse on the waistline than eat a Krispie treat. ¬†I’m posting the basic recipe, but feel free to top it as you’d like or make it yours. Your kids and the kids-at-heart will thank you. ¬†ūüėČ

Cake Batter Rice Krispie Treats

  • 3 TBSP butter
  • 6 cups crispy rice cereal
  • 1 – 10 oz bag of mini marshmallows
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup dry funfetti cake mix
  • One small container of colorful sprinkles

Here’s a tip before you get started: ¬†spray your spatula/spoon and your pot with non-stick cooking spray. ¬†You won’t have as much issue with the marshmallows sticking. ¬†You can spray a little oil on your hands, too, if you want to press the treats into the pan manually. ¬†Be mindful that the mixture will be very warm coming out of the pot, so be careful (I have to include the reality check here).

Grab a large soup pot to give yourself plenty of room. ¬†Melt your butter over low heat, then add the entire bag of marshmallows. ¬†Stir until the marshmallows start to melt. ¬†A tablespoon at a time, add your dry cake mix and stir into the marshmallows until well incorporated. ¬†Add your vanilla and mix a minute more to release the flavors. ¬†Add your cereal and, if you want, some of your colorful confetti sprinkles to add additional color to the treats. ¬†Once your treats have been mixed well, gently press them into an 8″x8″ pan or a 9″x13″ pan (depending on how thick you want them) and generously sprinkle the top with more of your sprinkles. ¬†It looks like a party in a pan! ¬†Cool for at least a half hour before you cut them (do your best not to cheat).

Enjoy, and happy cooking!

— Sarah