Chocolate Cherry Cake

Hi friends– Last weekend was a cake-o-rama around here.  My sis and I made cakes for a big family baby shower– anticipating baby Wyatt’s coming to the big wide world soon!  And our dear younger friends Travis & Bekah were married in this most hopeful happy wedding– simply beautiful.  More cake baking!

So here’s my favorite of the bunch.  Fresh cherries in the cake and in the frosting– with rich ganache and cherries on top!

CHOCOLATE CHERRY CAKE

Cake:
1 dark chocolate cake mix
water
canola oil
3 eggs
1 cup fresh cherries, pitted & chopped
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Frosting:
8 oz. cream cheese
6 oz. butter (1 1/3 stick)
4 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. amaretto (or vanilla)
2/3 cup cherries, pitted & chopped very fine

Ganache:
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tab. butter
1 cup chocolate chips

Garnish:
stemmed fresh cherries

Make the cake according to the directions on the box–mine used 1 1/4 cup water, 1/2 cup oil and 3 eggs.  Beat for 2 minutes with an electric mixer.  Then fold in the cherries and chocolate chips.

Pour the batter into 3 –9″ cake pans that have been sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake them up at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes–until they are firm to the touch.  Let them cool completely before adding the frosting!

To make the chocolate ganache, bring the cream and 2 tab. butter to a low simmer in a pan on the stove top.  Take it off the heat and beat in the chocolate chips for 2 or 3 minutes until they are melted and the ganache is glossy.  Let this cool completely before your pour it over the frosting (so you won’t melt the frosting!!)

With an electric mixer, beat together the cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar and amaretto (start on the lowest setting so you won’t have powdered sugar flying out of the mixing bowl!).  When that is blended, stir in the cherries with a wooden spoon until they are thoroughly mixed in and the frosting is colored a light pink from the cherries.

Frost the 3 layers of the cooled cake, stacking as you go.  When the ganache is thoroughly cooled drizzle it over the cake letting little streams pour down the sides.  Top with a mound of fresh cherries– Done! and so pretty!

Orange Chocolate Bread

 

 

Hello Bakers–  OK, I have to admit I might be stretching the truth here a bit.  This is not actually “bread.”  But I took the idea from my Mom’s luscious lemon bread and changed to orange with chocolate.  I think the actual title should be Orange Chocolate Dessert!!  What ever you call it, it’s got lots of orange flavor– and chocolate, lots of chocolate!

ORANGE CHOCOLATE BREAD

1 large orange
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1  2/3 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips*

glaze:
1/3 cup sugar
2 tab. orange juice

ganache:
1/4 whipping cream
1 tab. butter
2/3 cup chocolate chips

Grate all of the orange rind off of the orange and set aside.  Juice the orange and save for later.

In a large mixing bowl, blend together the oil, sugar, eggs and milk.  Then stir in the flour, salt and baking powder.  Lastly, mix in the grated orange peel and the mini chocolate chips.

Spoon the bread batter into one standard 9″ x 5″ loaf pan (or I used two half size pans) that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake it up in a 350 degree oven for 40 to 45 minutes until it is firm to the touch.

While it is baking mix together the 1/4 cup sugar and 2 tab. of orange juice.  When the loaf is hot from the oven, poke holes in the top with a skewer and then pour the sugar glaze all over the top of the loaf.  Let it cook in the pan with the gaze.

While it’s cooling make the ganache.  In a pan over medium hear bring the cream and butter to a simmer.  Then beat in the chocolate chips and continue beating or about 2 minutes to develop a sheen.

Take the loaf out of the pan and set it on a plate so you can drizzle the ganache over the loaf.  Viola!

Mocha Cake with Chocolate Ganache

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Hi all– Our mom got the family together this weekend to celebrate a couple birthdays– my brother Mark and sis Lulu.  Mexican dinner, cake & presents in the back yard a laugh-inducing night of looking at old family slides– the crazy hair-dos, the old boyfriends…  It was a marvelous, memorable summer evening all together.

And we birthday-ed with  a rich super moist cake (thanks to all that coffee flavored syrup drenching the baked cake).  Add the deep chocolate ganache and crunchy almonds.  It serves well as a celebration cake!

MOCHA CAKE WITH CHOCOLATE GANACHE

Cake:
1 chocolate cake mix
3 oz. box of chocolate instant pudding mix
1/4 cup chocolate syrup
4 eggs
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup Kahlua
1 cup mini chocolate chips*

Syrup:
2 tab. butter
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup Kahlua
1/2 cup strong coffee

Ganache:
2 tab. butter
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
8 oz. chocolate (1 1/3 cup chocolate chips)

Almonds:
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup sliced almonds

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In a mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to combine the cake mix, instant pudding mix, chocolate syrup, eggs, water, oil and 1/2 cup Kahlua.  Beat for 2 minutes on medium speed.  Then stir in the chocolate chips.

Spoon the batter into a tube pan or bundt pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray and put it into a 325 degree oven for 45 to 55 minutes, until a thin knife inserted comes out clean.

While the cake is cooking make up the syrup.  In a sauce pan combine the butter, sugar and 1/3 cup Kahlua.  Bring them to a simmer and simmer on low heat for a minute until the sugar dissolves.  Stir in the 1/2 cup coffee.

When the cake comes out of the oven, leave it in the pan to cool.  Poke holes in the top of the warm cake with a fork.  Then evenly pour the syrup over the cake and let it soak in.  Leave the cake in th pan until it cools completely.

Invert the cooled cake onto a plate and make the ganache.  In a saucepan, bring the 2 tab. butter and the 1/2 cup whipping cream to a slow simmer.  Turn off the heat and immediately pour in the chocolate chips.  Beat the mixture until the chocolate is melted.  And then continue to beat it 3 or 4 minutes more to bring out the shine in the chocolate.

To candy the almonds, heat the sugar and sliced almonds over medium heat in a small pan. Keep stirring for several minutes until the sugar melts and turns to caramel to coat the almonds –be careful– if the heat’s too hot it can burn!  Then turn the nuts out onto a sheet of foil on the counter and separate them with a wooden spoon to cool.

Drizzle the ganache over the cake and sprinkle the almonds over the top.  Viola!

*Mini chocolate chips won’t sink to the bottom of the cake pan a clump like standard chocolate chips can do.

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Happy Birthday Mark & Lulu!!
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Mocha Ice Cream Puffs

IMG_3543Hi all– Have you made cream puffs?  It’s a little bit magical how they beat up together so quickly and and then puff up in the oven.  We filled these up with mocha fudge ice cream  (personal fave) and then topped them with a rich ganache and spoonful of whipped cream.
They made a fine end to a meal around the table with friends last week.

MOCHA ICE CREAM PUFFS

Cream Puffs:
1 cup water
1/2 cup butter
1 cup flour
4 eggs

Ganache:
2 tab. butter
1/2 cup whipping cream
8 oz. chocolate chips

Whipped cream:
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
1 tsp. powdered sugar
1 tsp. instant vanilla pudding mix*

Ice cream:
Pick your favorite flavor–
mine is always Mocha Almond Fudge!!  (or plain coffee ice cream in a pinch)

IMG_3519Beat the 4 eggs and set aside

Heat the water and butter in a saucepan  to a rolling boil.  Change heat to low and then stir in the flour until it all forms into a ball.

Take it off the stove and slowly pour in the eggs, mixing with a fork as you do until they are all absorbed into the flour mixture.  You will have a sticky dough.

Then on 2 baking sheets sprayed with cooking spray, drop about 1/4 cup dough into balls on the baking sheet– about 3 inches apart (they will grow!).  Makes about 12

Pop them into a 400 degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes until they are puffed and beautifully golden.  Let them cool.

While they are cooling make the ganache..  Bring the cream and butter to a simmer in a sauce pan.  Then take it off the heat and stir in the chocolate chips, whipping it 4 or 5 minutes until it’s smooth ad shiny.

Then whip the cream, powdered sugar and vanilla pudding  with an electric mixer– until it’s thick and fluffy!  Store it in the fridge until you’re ready to put the cream puffs all together.

When you’re ready for dessert, cut the cream puffs in half horizontally.  Remove the top and plop in a large scope of ice cream.  Put the top back on over the ice cream and then pour over the ganache and add a generous spoonful of whipped cream next to the puff on the plate.  So yummy!

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Brownie Bites with Chocolate Ganache

DSC00721Hello there– it goes without saying that we do love brownies around here.  And add a swirl of chocolate ganache on top and well, that’s all the better!

My grandma was a healthy eater, grew up on a farm down south.  But she would always say she needed a small bite of sweet at the end of a meal.  I think she would have thought these mini brownies were just about right– a little indulgence to cap off dinner.

BROWNIE BITES WITH CHOCOLATE GANACHE

Brownies:
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), melted
1/4 cup dark cocoa*
1 tsp. instant coffee**
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup flour

Ganache:
1/4 cup cream
1 tab. butter
2/3 cup chocolate chips (4 oz.)
cute little candies to drop on top***

Melt the butter in a microwave proof mixing bowl and then stir in the cocoa and instant coffee granules.

Stir in the sugar and eggs, vanilla and flour.  Spoon the batter into mini muffin cups****

Pop them into at 350 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes until the brownies are firm to the touch.

Let them cool, while you make the ganache.

Heat the butter and cream together in a saucepan, just until it begins to simmer.  Take it off the heat and stir in the chocolate.  Beat it for a couple minutes with a wooden spoon until it’s smooth and satiny.

Drizzle the ganache over the brownies and top them with the cutest little candies you can find.  Ready to eat!

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*My favorite is the Hershey’s Dark unsweetened chocolate powder
**The recipe I worked from called for Espresso powder– not available at my market so I used instant coffee granules– adds a nice richness to the chocolate.
***Got the cute little red candies at Crate & Barrel –but there are bins of cute candies at those candy shops in the mall.
**** You can use mini muffin papers, or just spray mini muffin trays with cooking spray.

Banana Split Cake

IMG_0701Hi all– I have fond memories of banana splits with my mother when I was small.  We’d shop downtown and end up at the Woolworth’s lunch counter with for a 39 cent banana split lunch.  I was in heaven.  So this recipe combines two great desserts– banana splits and that old standby, cake!  Sweet and fruity and chocolate topped.  I think it would make a grand birthday cake!

BANANA SPLIT CAKE

Banana cake:
3 bananas, smooshed to a pulp
3/4 cup canola oil
1 1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
2 cups flour
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt

Smash the bananas in a large bowl.  Mix in the oil, sugar and eggs.  Then stir in the flour, baking powder and salt.  Spoon the batter into 3  9″ cake pans sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake them up at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden and firm to the touch.

Filling and toppings:
1 pound box of strawberries, divided
1 pint whipping cream, divided
2 tsp. powdered sugar
1 tsp. instant vanilla pudding powder
1 tsp. sugar
2 tab. butter
1 1/3 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup sliced almonds

IMG_0721Save out 5 or 6 pretty strawberries to top the cake, Then slice the other strawberries to flat rounds.  Whip 1 1/2 cups of the cream with an electric mixer, adding in the powdered sugar and vanilla pudding powder to stabilize the cream.

Cut the strawberries for the top of the cake into fourths and mix them with a teaspoon of sugar and set aside for them to form a little juice.

To make the chocolate ganache, bring the remaining 1/2 cup of cream with the 2 tab. of butter to a low simmer.  Turn off the heat and stir in the chocolate chips, beating it until it’s glossy.  Let it cool to room temperature.

When the cake layers are cool, set the first cake on a pretty plate and top with half the whipped cream and half the sliced berries.  Add the second cake layer and do the same.  Top it with the top cake layer and pour the cooled ganache over the cake and sprinkle on the almonds and the quartered, sugared strawberries.  Serve it up in large slabs!

If you have leftover cake,  store it in the fridge to eat later because of the cream.