Chocolate “Puppy Chow”

I absolutely love warm “Chex Mix” right out of the oven with the smell of herbs and spices floating through the air. I find it hard to limit myself to just a handful or two…or three. It’s addictive! What is even more addictive? What do I love even more!? The chocolate version! Take out the herbs and spices, add chocolate, peanut butter and powdered sugar…YUM! How bad could that be!?

I grew up calling this mix “Puppy Chow”. Some people grew up calling it “Muddy Buddies”. Whatever you call it – I just call it delicious…

Here is the recipe for “Puppy Chow”. Of course the terms “Muddy Buddies” and “Puppy Chow” are both copyright trademarks. So I will just list this under “Chocolate Puppy Chow”.

Puppy Chow Blog

Chocolate Puppy Chow

9 cups CHEX cereal (I prefer the rice version. You could use the corn or even chocolate versions as well)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1/4 cup butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 – 2 cups powdered sugar
Large food-storage plastic bags
Wax Paper

Measure out the 9 cups of cereal and place into a large separate bowl.

In a large microwaveable bowl, microwave the chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter (uncovered) for about 60 seconds. (This part will be largely determined on the strength of your microwave.) Take out of the microwave and stir. The chocolate, peanut butter and butter mixture will just be beginning to melt. Microwave again, for about 30 seconds and stir again. Do this until the mixture is easy to stir but be careful not to burn the chocolate! Stir the mixture until smooth.

Add the vanilla to the melted chocolate mixture and stir well.

Pour the melted chocolate mixture over the 9 cups of measured cereal. Stir until all the cereal is evenly coated with the melted chocolate, peanut butter and butter. This part can be a little bit of a mess (along with the rest of the recipe) but trust me…it is well worth the mess it might make!

After all the cereal is evenly coated – place about half of the mixture into a large food storage container. Add about a cup of the powdered sugar to the mix and seal up the bag – taking out most of the air before doing so. Gently shake and turn until well coated. Be careful not to crush the cereal.

Lay out a large section of wax paper on your counter. The size of this really depends on how much space you have to roll out the paper. If you have a large area – great…more cooling room. If working in a small area, that’s fine. Just have it cool a little longer.

Pour the powdered sugar covered cereal out on the wax paper to cool completely.

Repeat the process with the rest of the chocolate cereal mixture, the food storage bag, and the powdered sugar.

Once the finished mix has cooled a few minutes on the wax paper, store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. I find this so addictive – that I hardly have any left to PUT in the refrigerator…but if you have any left, it would be best refrigerated!

Enjoy!

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Banana Pudding Crunch Cake

Tomorrow (Feb 24th) is my Grandma Deloris’ Birthday and she requested only one thing – my banana pudding crunch cake. Hearing her say that just melted my heart. She has so many health problems and is not in the best of health…but she said it would “make” her birthday if I would make that cake for her. How could I say no? I love her so much and can not wait to deliver it to her…

I have made this cake several times based off of a Facebook “Banana Pudding Poke Cake” recipe, but have put my own spin on it. I find that if you make the cake a couple of days in advance the flavors really “marry” together and you have not only a more moist cake, but a more flavorful one. I also recommend using “Cool-Whip” brand and NOT “Reddi-Wip” brand because “Cool-Whip” stands up better. I prefer using the REAL whipped cream (“Reddi-Wip”) on just about everything else…but if you use that here, it will become a puddle of cream on top – not good! Another thing I prefer is to wait and sprinkle the crushed vanilla wafers on top just right before eating…that way they will still have “CRUNCH” when eating the cake. And personally…I do not like a soggy cookie.

Here is the recipe, and it could not be anymore simple…

Banana Crunch Cake Blog

Banana Pudding Crunch Cake

1 box yellow cake mix and the ingredients to make the cake (eggs, oil and water)
2 (3.4 oz) banana cream INSTANT pudding mix
4 cups whole milk
1 (8 oz) tub of “Cool-Whip” brand whipped topping
3-5 bananas (depending on their size)
5 cups vanilla wafers, crushed

Start off by making the yellow cake exactly as the package instructions tell you to. Make sure and use a pan that is 9X13 and do not forget to grease and flour the pan.

One the cake is out of the oven let it cool for about 2 minutes.

Once cooled a couple of minutes poke holes all over the top of the warm cake. For this, I use the handle end of a wooden spoon. The holes need to be large and all over the cake. Do not completely tear up the top of the cake…do it in a row or pattern – just make sure and cover the top with holes approximately the size of the end of a large wooden spoon. Poking holes in the cake with just a FORK will not work here…

Once the holes are poked, make the pudding by combining the two packets of INSTANT banana cream pudding into the 4 cups of whole milk. Whisk out any lumps and whisk until well incorporated. Let the pudding sit for about 2 minutes or until it begins to thicken up.

Once the pudding has thickened up, pour the pudding over the hole punched cake. Make sure and fill every hole and cover the entire cake – using ALL of the banana pudding. It will look like it is about to overflow. It will not, I promise…just keep pouring and covering the entire top of the cake.

After this has been completed, cover with foil and refrigerate overnight. You can actually do this part up to 48 hours in advance…the longer it sits the better it will taste when eaten.

When you are ready for the next step, take the cake from the refrigerator and “frost” the top with “Cool-Whip”. Use the WHOLE tub and make sure and even it out. It will appear thick and this is exactly what you want.

Peel and slice your bananas. You are wanting to cover the entire top layer with banana slices, so slice as many as that takes. I usually find anywhere between 3 and 5 bananas will do the trick…

Arrange them neatly on the top of the cake. Cover and refrigerate until ready to eat.

Crush the vanilla wafers and keep them in a large plastic bag. Crush them but do not crush them so fine you turn them into powder. You want large chunks of cookie as well.

Once ready to eat, cut and plate desired number of pieces. Right before serving, sprinkle the crushed vanilla wafers over each piece of cake. Serve immediately.

Enjoy!

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Note: To keep the bananas from turning brown, soak slightly in lemon juice – or lime juice – or simply place the bananas on top of the cake right before serving. 

Vanilla Almond “Wedding Bell” Cupcakes

I have never been a fan of weddings…but I’ve always been a fan of wedding CAKE! There is just something about a wedding cake that (when done right) is moist, delicious and has that “something something” that you can not quite figure out. Well…I think I have figured it out, and it could not be anymore simple!

I interviewed a wedding cake professional to uncover the “secrets” to wedding cakes. She told me that there are basically three secrets to a delicious wedding cake. Those secrets are…

1. ALMOND EXTRACT Almond extract, when added to the cake batter (any flavor of cake – but especially vanilla) brings out that “wedding flavor” that a lot of wedding cakes have. She says that the “almond extract” trend dates back to the 1970’s when bakeries first started adding it to wedding cakes – for unknown reasons.

2. UNDERBAKE Underbaking the cakes let them have a delicate and yet moist crumb when completely cool. Most people do not know…but cakes continue baking in their pans until completely cool. She recommends underbaking only about 2 minutes. Any longer and the center will be runny – do not eat a runny cake! (Unless it is a “molten lava cake” which is an entirely different story…)

3. MILK NOT WATER Adding MILK instead of water, will give the cake a little more “taste” than if it was made with water. Check for milk allergies first though of course, before doing this step.

If you follow these steps – you will be baking like the professionals!

Vanilla Almond “Wedding Bell” Cupcakes

Wedding Cupcakes Blog

I made cupcakes today that followed these steps – and a few of my own. I made just a typical “white” cake mix but added the egg WHITES only. I also added about a tablespoon of almond extract, followed by some “candy batter bites” that I found at Hobby Lobby that I just HAD to try.

I underbaked the cupcakes by about 2 minutes and let them cool completely in their pans.

For the frosting, I used just the typical “chocolate buttercream” frosting, but whipped it for awhile by hand with a whisk. I’m sure you could use an electric mixer…but I prefer working by hand for this.

I frosted the cupcakes after they were completely cool and then decorated them with edible glitter and edible pearls. I included a “tasting fork” on top of each cupcake – but that part is optional.

I am still working on this recipe and will post it completed, once I am satisfied with it. Using a cake mix is not ALWAYS a bad thing… That was an “extra tip” from the wedding cake baker I talked to. She said almost 80% of the time…they use what everyone else uses to make their wedding cakes. A boxed mix.

I admit that I am not the biggest fan of boxed mixes and store bought frostings…but once in awhile, it is fun to experiment and see how you can “improve” the original!

Enjoy!

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Chocolate Fudge Frosting

My Grandma Barbra celebrated her 80th Birthday last November, and for her Birthday I wanted to make her one of her favorite cakes from childhood. She had talked about a yellow cake with chocolate frosting that her mother used to make for her when she was a little girl. She said it was the “best cake” she had ever had and that it was one of her fondest memories from childhood. As I was planning to make her cake, I took that story into consideration, and decided to make it for her. Yellow cake with chocolate frosting. I knew going into it, that it was not going to be as good as her mothers…but guess what!? She said it was! I was floored. Either that, or she felt like she HAD to say that! Ha! I thought it was pretty delicious myself. My thoughts are though, that the memories of the cake that I had made, (and her eating it) had brought her back to those special memories of her mother.

Grandma 80 Blog

I made a typical yellow cake (there are thousands of recipes online for this) and decided to “create” my own frosting. I hate using frosting from a can – it tastes like chemicals to me, and I only use it in a pinch. I did research online and looked over my cookbooks and decided that I would just take what I knew and use it to create something different. Frosting is mainly consisted of powdered sugar, butter, vanilla, and cream. You can add extracts, flavorings, chocolate, coconut…the possibilities are endless. I decided that mine would be a thick and rich chocolate FUDGE frosting.

I experimented for a few days, and what I came up with was simply incredible! Here is the recipe…

Grandma 80 Cake Blog

Chocolate Fudge Frosting

3 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 
Pinch of salt (I prefer Kosher salt)
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
4 tablespoons heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons light corn syrup

Start by sifting together the powdered sugar, cocoa and salt. This will ensure that there will be no lumps in the frosting! Nobody likes a lumpy frosting. Sometimes I even DOUBLE sift it to ensure the lightness of the sugar.

In a separate bowl combine 1 cup of the powdered sugar, cocoa and salt mixture with the softened butter and 1 tablespoon of the heavy cream. Beat this until smooth.

Add another cup of the powdered sugar, cocoa and salt mixture along with another tablespoon of cream and beat until smooth.

Continue doing this method until all of the ingredients are combined and the frosting becomes a creamy constancy. The frosting will be THICK but still spreadable.

Add the vanilla extract and beat until combined.

Finally, add the corn syrup and beat well.

This will frost (and fill) several cupcakes, and will frost a layer cake with some left over. What I use this particular frosting and recipe for though, is for double layer round cakes. It frosts an 8 or 9 inch double round cake beautifully!

Enjoy!

UPDATE: The addition of the light corn syrup, really adds to not only the texture, but the “shine” of the finished frosting.

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Triple Chocolate Cookies

Mrs. Fields “Triple Chocolate” cookies have always been a favorite of mine! Unfortunately, Mrs. Fields is not as popular as it once was and their business has declined pretty rapidly. The only storefront that they have left in Indiana is in “Keystone at the Crossing” Mall – which I visit quite frequently! Not known to many…the Mrs. Fields store sits on the opposite side and down the strip from Abercrombie and Fitch – another struggling retail store. The people at Mrs. Fields know me by name (and yes, I am aware what this means…) and they love to see me as much as I love to see them. The same family has owned Mrs. Fields at this particular location for years! They are aware of the struggling business, but they are doing what they love – making cookies. And I am there to help…in buying them AND eating them! Ha!

Searching online for more information about the Mrs. Fields “Triple Chocolate” cookie (and no – I was not searching for the calorie count) I came across a “duplicate” recipe! I couldn’t help but think that there could be the possibility that I could be making these delicious chocolate cookies at home…and then I got a little worried. Making them at home could be a good thing…or a very bad thing (for the waist line). I printed out the recipe and decided to risk it.

I made the cookies and followed the recipe exactly. They were delicious! But…they were not Mrs. Fields. Not even close. I am keeping the recipe (and sharing it here with all of you), but nothing will ever come close to the original Mrs. Fields “Triple Chocolate” cookie. So – in saying that, this cookie is delicious – but I will still have to take my weekly (please do not judge me) trips to Mrs. Fields at the Fashion Mall at Keystone. Hey – I have to do my part in saving their business! Ha!

For more information about Mrs. Fields cookies please visit http://www.mrsfields.com/

Triple Chocolate Cookies

Mrs. Fields “Copycat” Triple Chocolate Cookies

2/3 cup room temperature butter
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
Pinch of salt
2 (1 oz.) squares unsweetened chocolate, melted
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips
1/3 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. You may need 3 cookie sheets depending on the size of the baking sheets used.

In large bowl combine butter, both types of sugar, egg, vanilla, salt and melted chocolate. Beat until fully incorporated and light and fluffy.

Add the flour all at once. Some cookie recipes call for a gradual addition of flour, but I find it works best to add it all at once – that is, if you have a strong arm where you can stir it in quickly but not “over beat” it. If you do not have a strong arm – add it gradually.

Stir until just combined – do not over mix the dough! We want cookies here and not bread. If you continue to stir the gluten will develop in the flour and the cookies will bake up more like little mounds of bread…not good.

Gradually fold in the dark and white chocolate chips.

Drop heading tablespoon size dough balls on the cookie sheets – leaving about 2 ½ inches between each cookie for more even baking.

Place into preheated oven for exactly 17 minutes. Please also only bake one cookie sheet at a time – do not crowd the oven.

The tops of the cookies (after 17 minutes) will look dry – this is how you will know that the cookies need to be removed from the oven.

Leave them on the cookie sheet to cool completely before eating. That is – if you can wait that long. I usually have a burnt mouth at the end of this process…

Enjoy!

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Peanut Butter Cookies with Turbinado Sugar

Not that long ago I stumbled across a recipe for “3 ingredient peanut butter cookies”. The idea of making peanut butter cookies with only three ingredients delighted me…so I did a little research and had to try them for myself. All the basic recipe called for was peanut butter, white sugar and an egg. I followed this recipe and the cookies turned out delicious for only three ingredients. I was pleasantly surprised…and yet unsatisfied. I figured that there had to be a way to “bump” the flavor up without adding hardly any more ingredients – so I came up with the following recipe…Which if I do say so myself – is better than the original!

Don’t let the words “Turbinado sugar” scare you away from trying this recipe. Turbinado sugar is just a less processed form of sugar. You can find it in ALL supermarkets. You might recognize the name “Sugar in the Raw”? That is the brand that I use…

PB 3 Cookies Blog

Peanut Butter Cookies with Turbinado Sugar

1 cup of Peanut Butter (smooth or chunky – use your favorite)
1 cup of sugar
1 egg
Turbinado sugar for sprinkling

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper but wait for preheating your oven.

Mix together the peanut butter and sugar before adding the egg. Be sure to get all three of these ingredients combined to form a well mixed mixture.

Chill the dough in the refrigerator for about an hour (hence why you don’t preheat your oven right away).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Once the oven is preheated, remove the dough from the refrigerator.

Using a tablespoon (or whatever size you desire – but remember…the larger the cookie, the longer the bake time) dividing the dough into equal distance on the parchment lined cookie sheet. You may need two cookie sheets for these cookies, but that all depends on the size you make and how much of the dough is eaten between scoops!

Once the cookie sheet(s) are filled take a fork and press down on each cookie dough mound. Don’t press with all your might – but press firmly enough to “flatten” the dough, while leaving a “cross hatch” mark. Some people then rotate the fork and do a “cross hatch” mark the other way – this is up to you. I always just do the one mark.

After “marking” all the cookie dough balls, sprinkle the Turbinado sugar evenly across all the cookies. How much here? That is up to you. I usually put a rough teaspoon amount on each cookie… The more you use the more “crunch” and the more “sandy” your final baked peanut butter cookie will be.

Place the sheet(s) into the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes until they are “set” but may not appear golden brown in color. Please try and be patient and bake one cookie sheet at a time. If anymore than that are in the oven, something happens to the heat and the time of the baking.

Let the cookies cool on their sheet before removing.

After cooled slightly (if you can manage to wait that long) – eat them. These are delicious in a variety of ways. You may top them with peanut butter cup candies, chocolate “kiss” candies, or even dip them in melted chocolate or melted white chocolate…all ways are delicious. My favorite way of eating these though, are straight out of the oven with a cold glass of milk!

Enjoy!

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Announcement

Well, I have made the “announcement” prior to my “announcement” (Ha!) today on my Twitter and Instagram pages. Hard to believe that in about a week everyone from everywhere will be able to see what I have started and been working on. It will feel like my privacy is being invaded! But…on the other hand, I’m excited and I WANT TO SHARE with everyone about my baking…a hobby that I’m very passionate about. It will be exciting and I’m looking forward to it!

Blaise

Welcome!

Hello everyone!

My name is Blaise and I love to bake! This is my first blog and my first posting…

I have thought about creating something like this for awhile – so here it is!

I have loved to bake since I was little, and I hope to share my love and passion for baking with everyone reading this. I hope to use my blog as a place for information and inspiration. I hope it becomes a place for you to come for great recipes, pictures, stories and conversations!

For right now – please bookmark my site for easy navigation back…

Also, please follow me on Twitter and Instagram!

Until my next posting – I will leave you with this quote which basically sums up my philosophy on baking. It is from the incredible Julia Child…

“This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook – try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!”

Blaise

Ina’s Cranberry Orange Scones

I started this blog with the intentions of not wanting to “share” other people’s recipes, but with this one, I have had a change of heart. Ina Garten is by far my favorite food personality (only next to Nigella Lawson) and every single one of Ina’s recipes that I have tried…have turned out perfectly. You might know Ina as the “Barefoot Contessa”.

A couple of weeks ago I sent a friend of mine some food pictures through the mail. One of them that I sent was my Cranberry Orange Scones. About a week later she wrote back to me asking for the recipe, saying that they simply looked delicious. I sent her the recipe and had to explain that it was not “my” recipe that I used…it was Ina Garten’s recipe. I am always thrilled to introduce people to food personalities (such as Ina and Nigella) so I thought I would share it here as well. I followed the recipe exactly as Ina wrote it, with the exception of adding a teaspoon of vanilla extract to the Orange Glaze… Share this recipe with everyone, explore more of Ina’s recipes and whatever you do – enjoy!

Cranberry Orange Scones

Cranberry Orange Scones

4 cups plus 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar, plus additional for sprinkling
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
3/4 pound cold unsalted butter, diced
4 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup cold heavy cream
1 cup dried cranberries
1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons water or milk, for egg wash
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
4 teaspoons freshly squeezed orange juice

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix 4 cups of flour, 1/4 cup sugar, the baking powder, salt and orange zest. Add the cold butter and mix at the lowest speed until the butter is the size of peas. Combine the eggs and heavy cream and, with the mixer on low speed, slowly pour into the flour and butter mixture. Mix until just blended. The dough will look lumpy! Combine the dried cranberries and 1/4 cup of flour, add to the dough, and mix on low speed until blended.

Dump the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead it into a ball. Flour your hands and a rolling pin and roll the dough 3/4-inch thick. You should see small bits of butter in the dough. Keep moving the dough on the floured board so it doesn’t stick. Flour a 3-inch round plain or fluted cutter and cut circles of dough. Place the scones on a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Collect the scraps neatly, roll them out, and cut more circles.

Brush the tops of the scones with egg wash, sprinkle with sugar, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tops are browned and the insides are fully baked. The scones will be firm to the touch. Allow the scones to cool for 15 minutes and then whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and orange juice, and drizzle over the scones.

Enjoy!

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