Friday was one of those rough days that you can only find around exam time. I was running on espresso and three hours of sleep and the information I was desperately trying to cram in my brain before my 1 p.m. midterm just didn't seem to stick. It didn't help that my Global Health exam was full of words like kwashiorkor and vibrio cholerae (what's wrong with just plain old cholera?).  I haven't gotten my grade back so I'm not entirely sure how it went, but I didn't feel too great about it. I don't linger on bad exams, though. After all, what good would that do me?  I made an A on the midterm I just took for another class so even if I completely bombed this one all is not lost. Because of my hectic study schedule all week, I hadn't gotten to bake anything which was extremely disappointing. So, I decided what I always do: my cure for the day would be chocolate. I have had my eye on this dark chocolate Peppermint Pattie cake for a good while and it seemed just the trick to make my day better.

I really liked how it turned out. I've only gotten two other reviews of the final product so far but they were rave as well. It looks very pretty on a cake plate so would be great to serve for a nice dinner and I'm sure its moist consistency would go over well with everyone. Since I was just making it to try the recipe out I didn't put too much work into the presentation, but if I was making it to serve to a party I would be sure to purchase some mint leaves to make it look even better.  I also think it would go great with homemade whipped cream. Next time I make it I might try adding peppermint extract or more peppermint patties to really bring out the peppermint flavor.  In the original recipe it is very subtle. I liked it just how it was, but who wouldn't want a few extra Peppermint Pattie bites?

Dark Chocolate Peppermint Pattie Cake
Recipe from Sweet Stuff: Karen Barker's American Desserts

Ingredients for the cake:
14 unces semisweet chocolate
16 tablespoons (8 ounces) unsalted butter
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons cream
6 eggs, separated
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup small-diced Peppermint Pattie Candies

Ingredients for the ganache topping:
1 cup cream
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

Preparation for the cake:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9 1/2 to 10-inch springform pan, line the bottom with parchment paper. Butter the paper and flour the pan, tapping out the excess flour.
2. Melt the chocolate with the butter and cream in the top of a double boiler. Reserve.
3. In the bowl of a mixer with a whip, beat the egg yolks with the sugar until very thick and light (about five minutes).
4. Add the melted chocolate mixture to the egg yolks and mix till just blended. Add the flour, salt and vanilla and mix till combined, scraping the bowl once or twice. Transfer the batter to a large mixing bowl and stir in the Peppermint Pattie pieces. the mixture will be quite thick.
5. In a clean mixing bowl, with a clean whip, beat the egg whites to medium soft peaks. Lighten the batter by stirring in about one-third of the egg whites. Fold in the remaining whites and place the batter in the prepared pan.
6. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 45 to 50 minutes. The top of the cake will feel set, and very fine hairline cracks will start to form around the edges. Remove and cool in the pan on a rack.

Preparation for the ganache topping and assembly:
1. Heat the cream in a heavy-bottomed saucepan to just under a boil. Add the chopped chocolate and, over very low heat, constantly stirring, cook the mixture until it is completely smooth. Strain through a fine sieve into a bowl and cool, stirring occasionally until thickened and spreadable. This can take several hours. You can make the topping up to 3 days ahead, refrigerate it and allow it to come to room temperature for several hours before using as well. You can also hasten the cooling process by placing the melted ganache over an ice bath and gently stirring it till thickened; however, the resulting texture may not be as smooth and creamy.
2. Place the cooled cake upside down on a cardboard cake circle or a service plate. Remove the sides and bottom of the springform pan. Remove the parchment liner. Using an offset spatula, decoratively spread the ganache over what is now the top of the cake, drawing the ganache all the way out to the edges of the cake. Using the offset spatula, level the edges to give the cake a finished look. Serve and room temperature.

When I think of a whopper, I think of the oh-so-delicious whopper malted milkball candies.  You might be different. Maybe you're a die hard Burger King fan and use the word Whopper regularly in that sense, who knows. After seeing the "Whopper Freakout" commercials a few years ago I know those kinds of people are out there! Rarely do I use the word "whopper" to describe size. When I saw this recipe, though, I felt right away that whopper was the appropriate term to describe these cookies. They're big and packed full of flavor. There's much more to them than any regular chocolate cookie recipe. The original recipe calls for nuts. I left these out because I am a chocoholic and they get in the way of my full chocolate enjoyment. You'd think a cookie with two different kinds of chocolate and three different additions of chocolate throughout the recipe would be enough for me despite the nuts, but no.
After making these I am sure they would be great with or without the walnuts, your call. These cookies are chocolaty and delicious. I love how they came out with cracked tops, yet moist and brownie-like insides. The espresso, which has lately become an ingredient I'm addicted to, makes them ultra-rich but not too rich for those of you who like simple cookies. The recipe also says they freeze well and because they are soft, ship well also.
That's a triple right there: they taste great, freeze well, and ship well. Looks like you'll just have to try them out.

Chocolate Whoppers
Recipe from The Foster's Market Cookbook

6 ounces semisweet chocolate (preferably high-quality baking chocolate), chopped into large chunks*
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped into large chunks *
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts *
1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

*I didn't have high quality chocolate, just Nestle, and they came out great still. I also learned a great tip if you don't have unsweetened chocolate: for every ounce of unsweetened chocolate called for, use 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder + 1 tablespoon butter. I did this and it tasted just the same. And like I said, I left out the nuts.

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
2. Lightly grease 2 baking sheets and set aside.
3. Melt together the semisweet chocolate, unsweetened chocolate chunks, and butter in a double boiler over low heat until just melted, stirring occasionally. Stir to blend the chocolate and the butter, and set aside.
4. Cream together the eggs, espresso powder, and vanilla in a large bowl with an electric mixer. Add the sugar and mix until thick and creamy.
5. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl and stir to mix. Set aside.
6. Add the chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and blend until well combined. Add the flour mixture and stir just until the dry ingredients are moist.
7. Fold in the walnuts and chocolate chips. (Note: The batter will be very moist--similar to the consistency of cake batter)
8. Scoop the batter with a 1/4 cup ice cream scoop or by the heaping tablespoon and drop onto the prepared baking sheets about 3 inches apart. Bake immediately.
9. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, turning the baking sheets once during the cooking time. The cookies will still be very gooey inside and soft, but do not overcook or the cooled cookies will be dry. Cool about 10 minutes on the baking sheets before gently removing the whoppers to a baking rack to cool completely.

The other day I decided I wanted to make cupcakes and they turned out to be a complete fail. A delicious fail, but I had this perfect image in my mind of what they would turn out like and it was quite the opposite. They all stuck to the pan and so I ended up just throwing them in a bowl and making cake balls (just one more reason to love cake balls, they turn even a botched cake into a good thing). Other than the cake balls, though, one other good thing came out of this cupcake failure, I found the most delicious plain buttercream icing. So ever since then I've been meaning to make more cupcakes so I can put the buttercream to good use. Today, I was procrastinating writing a paper by making chocolate cookies and cupcakes. The cupcakes were good. They were very simple, by no means the best cupcakes I've ever had but the goal was simplicity so I was happy. I might try experimenting in the future by putting cinnamon or cocoa powder in the buttercream or changing up the cupcake type. There are so many different ways you can go with cupcakes, that's why I love them.

Vanilla Cupcakes with Magnolia Buttercream
Makes 24+
Vanilla Cupcakes
Recipe from Martha Stewart
1 3/4 cups cake flour, not self-rising
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
4 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line cupcake pans with paper liners; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt; mix on low speed until combined. Add butter, mixing until just coated with flour.
In a large glass measuring cup, whisk together eggs, milk, and vanilla. With mixer on medium speed, add wet ingredients in 3 parts, scraping down sides of bowl before each addition; beat until ingredients are incorporated but do not overbeat.
Divide batter evenly among liners, filling about 2/3 full. Bake, rotating pan halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 17 to 20 minutes.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat process with remaining batter.

Recipe from Magnolia Bakery
2 sticks of butter,  soft
6-8 cups of confectioners sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 tsp vanilla extract

Cream  butter and 4 cups of sugar. 
Add in the vanilla and milk. Beat 3-5 minutes. 
Add 1 cup of remaining confectioners sugar at a time, till you achieve required consistency and sweetness. 
 (I used a little over 6 cups)

For Valentine's Day this year instead of going out to dinner the boyfriend and I decided on a nice homecooked meal. I love dressing up and going to restaurants but with the prices most places charge Valentine's weekend, it's nearly impossible to go on a college student's budget. I also had an exam this morning worth 25% of my grade so a low-key night was in order. We went to Fresh Market and bought two bacon-wrapped filet mignons which he cooked in french onion soup with portabello mushrooms, my favorites.  I'm really pretty awful at cooking meat, something about the risks involved with undercooking always leaves me feeling the need to completely overcook anything I attempt to make. The odd part about this is that I always like things undercooked anyways, anything above medium rare is going to disappoint me so I'm not sure why I worry so much about the cooking process. Anyway, he made the filets wonderfully and they tasted amazing. Filet mignon by itself is great, the soup and mushrooms bumped it up a giant notch. I made homemade mashed potatoes with caramelized onions and garlic, asparagus wrapped in phyllo dough, and french bread brushed with an olive oil and herb blend. 
For dessert I wasn't sure what I would make. He's got lots of favorites but I always like to try new recipes so I picked this chocolate cake with espresso buttercream. Like I've said before, you can tell a lot about a recipe by the way the person cooking describes it. Jamie from My Baking Addiction raved about this cake even saying, "it may seriously be the absolute best cake I have ever made." The cake did turn out really well. Although mine didn't look quite as pretty as hers, it was delicious. I loved the espresso buttercream and the basic ganache was tasty as always. I will definitely be making this cake again, it's not "the best cake I've ever made" but it's pretty darn good and was a perfect Valentine's Day dessert.

Chocolate Cake with Espresso Buttercream
Recipe from My Baking Addiction 
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup milk
6 tablespoons canola oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup very hot water
4 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter , softened
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
1 teaspoon very hot water
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate , chopped (I used semisweet)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter , softened and diced
1 cup heavy or whipping cream 

1 tablespoon sugar

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a 15 1/2″ x 10 1/2″ jelly-roll pan with parchment paper; spray paper with nonstick cooking spray.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, combine sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt at medium speed until blended. In another bowl, whisk eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla. Gradually beat egg mixture into flour mixture, about 5 minutes. Shift mixer to low speed; add hot water until blended. Pour batter into pan. Bake until toothpick comes out of the center clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool cake completely.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat egg yolks at medium speed until they become lemon colored and ribbon like when beaters are lifted, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine sugar and 1/4 cup water. Cook over medium-low heat, swirling pan occasionally, until sugar completely dissolves and syrup just comes to a boil. Increase heat to high; boil syrup until it registers 238°F on a candy thermometer. With the mixer on medium speed, immediately add syrup to beaten egg yolks in a thin, steady stream. Beat mixture until it cools to room temperature and is light and fluffy, about 10 minutes. Gradually add butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, until completely incorporated. In a cup, dissolve espresso powder in hot water; beat into buttercream.
In a large bowl, combine chocolate and butter. In a small saucepan, heat cream and sugar over medium-high flame, stirring occasionally, until small bubbles appear around edge of pan. Pour hot cream over chocolate; stir until chocolate and butter melt and mixture is completely smooth. Cool, stirring occasionally, until thickened but not pasty, about 15 minutes.
Invert cake onto a large wire rack; peel off parchment paper. Invert cake again onto a large cutting board. With a serrated knife, cut cake into equal thirds.
Set a large wire rack over a sheet of waxed paper. Arrange one cake layer on rack; spread half of buttercream evenly over top. Add another cake layer; spread top with remaining buttercream. Place remaining cake layer on top.
Pour ganache over top of cake, spreading with a spatula so it coats the sides. If ganache does not cover sides completely, pour any excess that has collected on the waxed paper back into bowl and spread again. Refrigerate cake until ganache sets, about 1 hour. Use two large spatulas to transfer cake onto a serving plate.

Another similar recipe:

Flourless Chocolate Espresso Cake on Foodista

Because I bought a giant carton of blueberries from Costco the other day, I had lots to spare after I made my crumb cake. I love putting blueberries on my cereal but I held off in hopes of finding a good blueberry recipe. Well, I found it.
I've never really liked scones but I got a new cookbook for valentine's day and the recipe looked particularly good.  I usually would put scones in the category of foods I like, but would always choose something else over. Even when I'm at a bakery with delicious looking scones I always assume I'd enjoy a croissant, muffin, or danish instead (I know, healthy right?). We have a great local market called Fosters about two minutes away from my apartment which is where the cookbook came from. I often go there for breakfast or lunch and get one of their many homemade specialties. Foster's is a really informal restaurant/cafe with a great local feel. My favorite thing about it (aside from the food, of course) is that all of their tables, chairs and plates are mismatched. Such a little thing but I love it. They also have specialty groceries and sell their homemade products. I never knew the background of Sara Foster, the owner, until I received this cookbook the other day. She's worked in a number of very respected restaurants and collaborated with Martha Stewart many times on cookbooks. She decided she was tired of the big city life and wanted to move to a thriving city with a strong local feel, hence she arrived at the Raleigh/Durham area.
These scones are always on display at Foster's and they are really the only scones that I've been tempted to order.  So, I decided instead of ordering one, I would make the recipe from her cookbook to try them instead. Let me just say, next time I'm at Foster's I'm getting the scones! These were amazing. In Foster's she has all different varieties and her cookbook has the basic recipe with how to adapt it written on the side. I was tempted to make the peanut butter-banana scones but I wanted to use my berries. I'll make those next time. These were best straight out of the oven but they kept well too. The only way I can describe the taste is comparing it to a warm blueberry muffin on the inside and a scone on the outside. My favorite part of muffins is the top crust of it so basically this is a muffin completely surrounded by the delicious buttery top. If you're not a fan of scones, try these anyways, they'll win you over.

Blueberry Scones
Recipe from The Foster's Market Cookbook: Favorite Recipes for Morning, Noon and Night

4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 pound (3 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 1/2 cups blueberries
Egg Wash: 1 large egg beaten with 2 tablespoons milk.

*I also sprinkled extra sugar over the scone tops after brushing butter over them.

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2. Lightly grease 2 baking sheets and set aside.
3. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.
3. Add the butter and cut it into the flour mixture using a pastry blender or 2 knives until the mixture resembles coarse meal. (I used my hands but if you choose to do this you must be really careful not to overwork the dough)
4. Add berries evenly to the mixture. Still keep in mind not to overwork the dough.
5. Add the buttermilk and mix until just combined and the dough begins to stick together. If dough is too dry, add up to 2 tablespoons more.
6. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll or pat into two 6-inch rounds, about 1 1/2 inches thick. Cut each round in half and cut each half into 3 triangles (pie-shaped wedges) and place on baking sheets. Brush the tops with the egg wash. Sprinkle with sugar if desired.
7. Bake 30-35 minutes, until golden brown and firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and serve immediately.

Some days I'm very productive and some days I swear I fall asleep at night and can't remember one thing I did except for class. I think this could just be because I like to tune out those hours spent on homework, at the library, or really doing anything I don't enjoy. Today was a productive day. It's probably all because I woke up early this morning and started off with a piece of the crumb cake I made last night. I went to run some errands afterward and then headed to class. I even made it to the gym after class. I could end there and would still give myself a pat on the back.
Tonight I went and volunteered for an hour or so at Ronald McDonald House and made them cookies and brownies. Mostly I go in groups but tonight no one else could go so I just showed up by myself and got to baking. I really can't think of anything I'd rather do while volunteering and RMH is such a great cause that I'd go every night if I had time.
When I came back I had more of the blueberry crumb cake, which is now almost gone, and then baked two loaves of banana bread and worked on internship stuff. My need to write all this down might be saying something (i.e. a day like this is rare!) but I'm still in productive-mode so I that puts me in writing mode as well.

Now to the "Yum" cake. This recipe is from Dorie Greenspan's amazing book Baking: From my home to yours. If you don't have this book yet, get it. I've loved everything I've made from it so far and have also found quite a few go-to recipes. This recipe is one of them. When I stocked up on strawberries at Costco I also bought a giant box of blueberries for this crumb cake. I looked through a few other bookmarked recipes before giving in to the fact that the only recipe I really wanted to make was this one. It's moist and flavorful on the inside but not too sweet which makes it appeal to a lot of different people. I snack on everything I make throughout the day and night despite its intended serving time, but this cake is truly great for whenever. I'm a blueberry addict and decided I was tired of waiting until blueberry season to start making all of my favorite dishes so prepare yourselves for many many more blueberry posts in these next few weeks.

Blueberry Crumb Cake
Recipe from: Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From my home to yours

For the crumbs: *
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

For the cake:
1 pint (2 cups) blueberries (preferably fresh, or frozen, not thawed)
2 cups plus 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2/3 cup sugar
grated zest of 1/2 lemon or 1/4 orange
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter at room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk

*I double the crumb topping and when pouring the mixture add a layer after pouring half the mixture. I strongly suggest doing this because it makes it extra delicious but it's not necessary.

Getting Ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch square pan (Pyrex is great for this) and put it on a baking sheet.

To make the crumbs: Put all the ingredients except the nuts in a food processor and pulse just until the mixture forms crumbs and curds and holds together when pressed. Scrape the topping into a bowl, stir in the nuts and press a piece of plastic against the surface. Refrigerate until needed.

To make the cake: Using your fingertips, toss the blueberries and 2 teaspoons of the flour together in a small bowl just to coat the berries; set aside. Whisk together the remaining 2 cups flour, the baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
Working in the bowl of a stand mixer or in another large bowl, rub the sugar and zest together with your fingertips until the sugar is mist and aromatic. Add the butter and, with the paddle or whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat the sugar with the butter at medium speed until light, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one by one, beating for about 1 minute after each addition, then beat in the vanilla extract. Don’t be concerned if the batter looks curdled--it will soon smooth out. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture and the butter milk alternately, the flour in 3 parts and the buttermilk in 2 (begin and end with the dry ingredients). You will have a thick, creamy batter. With a rubber spatula, gently stir in the berries.
Scrape the batter into the buttered pan and smooth the top gently with the spatula. Pull the crumb mix from the refrigerator and, with your fingertips, break it into pieces. There’s no need to try to get even pieces--these are crumbs, they're supposed to be lumpy and bumpy and every shape and size. Scatter the crumbs over the batter, pressing them down ever so slightly.
Bake for 55 to 65 minutes, or until the crumbs are golden and a thin knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a rack and cool just until it is warm or until it reaches room temperature.


Buying chocolate covered strawberries is almost always a waste of money. Making them, on the other hand, is great. They look beautiful in the displays and it's tempting to buy them, but trust me, anyone could make them. I used to make trays and trays just because I liked doing it. As weird as that is, it shows that paying $5 each isn't quite worth it. With Valentine's Day coming up, make an impression and make some youself! I went to Costco and bought a huge box for really cheap, they're not as pretty as they are in season but they still work. I did these in between classes but if you spend a little longer I promise they'll turn out great.

Chocolate Covered Strawberries
1 container strawberries
1 12 oz bag chocolate (semi-sweet or dark)
2 cups white chocolate

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Wash all strawberries before using but before dipping make sure they are completely dry. If they have any water on them the chocolate won't stick when you dip. Melt the chocolate. It's best to melt over a double boiler so you don't risk burning it but if you keep a close eye on it the microwave works. If the chocolate burns, throw it out. Once the chocolate is smooth and melted, hold the strawberries at the top and dip one at a time. Sometimes it helps to have a spoon or spatula to make sure you have it even all around. Place strawberries on parchment paper leaving 1-2 inches between. Once finished, melt the white chocolate. The easiest way to do the next step is with a drizzling bottle which can be found at AC Moore but I usually use a simple ziploc bag. Put the melted white chocolate into the bag and cut the tip off the bottom corner of the bag. In a horizontal back and forth motion drizzle over each strawberry. Once finished, place the strawberries in the fridge for at least an hour, or until hardened. Enjoy!


Friday was another cold, rainy day, you know what that means: baking. I decided it was the perfect day for banana bread and cake pops. I love making holiday themed desserts so I went to AC Moore and stocked up on Valentine's Day sprinkles and such. I could spend hours in that store and not be bored. The cake pops turned out great, they are very time consuming but they are also extremely easy. I suggest having people around to talk to in the process so you don't notice how long the dipping takes. I used funfetti cake mix (great idea Tory!) and rainbow chip icing this time and they were amazing. Like the banana bread, the cake pops were all gone by the end of the night. I wish I had some left so I could've gotten better pictures in the daytime but at the same time I'm glad not to have them around since they're so addictive. I've posted how to make them on here before but I'll post it again just in case you didn't see it. The only difference between cake balls and cake pops is the popsicle stick. If you're going to make cake pops you can find popsicle sticks at AC Moore and buy a big styrofoam tray to stick them in as well.

Cake Balls
Recipe from Bakerella
1 box cake mix (cook as directed on box for 13 X 9 cake)
1 can frosting (16 oz.)
1 package chocolate bark (regular or white chocolate)
wax paper

1. Make cake as directed on box and let cool once removed from oven.
2. Mix thoroughly with 1/2 can frosting
3. Roll mixture into small balls and place on cookie sheet
4. Chill for several hours. (You can speed this up by putting in the freezer.)
5. Melt chocolate in microwave per directions on package. *
6. Roll balls in chocolate and lay on wax paper until firm. (Use a spoon to dip and roll in chocolate and then tap off extra.)

*If making cake pops:
After melting chocolate bark in microwave, dip tip of stick in coating and put into the middle of the uncoated cake ball. This will help the stick stay in place after the bark dries. Next, dip the stick and cake ball into the melted coating and tap off the excess on side of bowl. The bark coating will dry quickly but it's easiest to have a styrofoam tray to place them in for drying. If you want to dip them in sprinkles, make sure you do it before the coating dries.

Let me start off by saying this banana bread is some of the best I've ever had. The inside is extremely moist and the crust is perfect. I only had half of a piece yet I still am practically obsessed with this recipe. I made this in the afternoon and the whole loaf was gone by the end of the night (so much for a slice at breakfast!). I judge a lot of the recipes I look at by the words the person writing about it uses. The blog I found this on titled it "The Amazing Banana Bread", now if that doesn't make you want to give it a try I don't know what would. The recipe is originally adapted from a Cook's Illustrated recipe. I also added a 1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon because I always think it tastes great in sweet bread recipes. I've already set out six more bananas so I can make two loaves later in the week, you should too!

Banana Bread
Recipe from Doesn't Tazte Like Chicken

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups walnuts, toasted and chopped coarse (I skipped the walnuts)
3/4 cup sugar (I used one cup because I wanted mine to be sweeter)
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 very ripe, soft, darkly speckled large bananas, mashed well (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/4 cup plain yogurt
2 large eggs, beaten lightly
6 tbsp of unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Turn on the oven to 350F.
2. Butter and flour the bottom of a loaf pan.
3. Mix the mashed banana, eggs, yogurt, melted butter and vanilla in a large bowl.
4. Stir the walnuts into the banana mixture (doing so will reduce the risk of over-mixing).
5. Sift flour, sugar, salt and baking soda into the banana mixture.
6. To me, this is the most crucial step in this recipe and I realized this only after baking batches and batches of chewy muffins and loaf cakes. The goal is not to over mix the flour with the wet ingredients. Using a rubber spatula, very, very, very gently mix the flour with the wet ingredients. Stop as soon as the dry ingredients are moistened. The batter should be chunky instead of smooth. If you have a smooth batter, then you will end up with a tough banana bread. If you are an amateur baker like me, then I sincerely wish you good luck with this step. I’m still learning to master this step myself  A strange thought came to me today: could over-mixing be better prevented if I use my hands? Any thoughts?
7. Bake for 55 minutes or until a wooden skewer comes out clean after inserted into the bread.
8. Let the bread cool in the pan; slice and serve.

I feel that with the Superbowl coming up, and because I happen to have the recipe for the best dip ever created,  it is my duty to share it with you. I tried this for the first time in my friend's apartment the other day and was instantly hooked.  I've looked around on other blogs and apparently a lot of people make some variation of buffalo chicken dip. Still, I've got a feeling this one is the best. I have no reason for thinking this, I just can't imagine tasting a better one. I read on one blog that it was "truly impossible to take a picture that does it justice but you just had to trust that it's great"--I  couldn't agree more. I guarantee this dip will be a hit at any Superbowl party, make it!

2 8-ounce packages cream cheese
2 10 oz containers canned chicken breast, drained
1 1 oz package dry ranch mix
1 16 oz package shredded cheese (I think cheddar or monterrey jack blend works best)
1 cups buffalo wing sauce-hotness at your discretion, I like medium

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 1 1/2 quart casserole dish, or any other oven-safe dish you have around that size.
With your hands, mix together the softened cream cheese, chicken breast, and ranch mix in a medium sized bowl. Add buffalo sauce until color is bright orange. You may add more or less depending on how strong you would like the buffalo flavor to come through. Transfer mixture into casserole dish and smooth evenly. Sprinkle cheese evenly over top and place in oven for 20 minutes, or until cheese is melted and inside is hot. Eat immediately.

(This dip is great with Frito Scoops!)

The other day I went by a new chocolate shop in town to test it out. Of course, every truffle was ridiculously over-priced but I felt that it was my duty to get two anyways. I feel like to get a good sense of a place like that you need to have eaten at least two different things from there. Maybe I just wanted two truffles though, who knows. Well, everything was beautiful as it always is in upscale chocolate shops, so I had my work cut out for me. They had chocolate covered bacon which was calling my name, but I already knew that would be delicious so I decided for something else: potato chip truffles. The other thing I chose was a cookies and cream truffle, which is boring, but I had a craving for white chocolate. I love the mix of salty and sweet so I was intrigued by the potato chip truffle and it met all my expectations, dee-lish. I was on my way to the grocery store at the time so I picked up a bag of potato chips so that I could make my own. My only issue with these is that you expect the potato chips to stay crispy and that just doesn't happen when they're soaked in chocolate. Overall, these were good but I prefer regular truffles.

Potato Chip Truffles
Truffle base recipe adapted from Karen Barkers: Sweet Stuff
2 cups cream
16 ounces semi sweet chocolate, chopped into small piece
4 cups wavy salted potato chips, broken into pieces
12 ounces dark chocolate
Kosher salt for dusting

Preparation for ganache:
1. Heat the cream in a heavy-bottomed medium-sized saucepan until it is just under a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and add the semi sweet chocolate. Replace the pan over very low heat and continue to  2. Allow mixture to cool in fridge for 3 hours-or until mixture reaches a thickened consistency that can be shaped.
3. Stir in potato chips with spatula
4. Shape mixture into mounds and place on parchment lined cookie sheet in fridge for 30 minutes.
5. Melt dark chocolate over double broiler until mixture reaches a smooth, even consistency and all chocolate pieces are melted.
6. With a spoon, dip truffles in melted dark chocolate and place back on cookie sheet. Sprinkle with salt and place in refrigerator until hardened.

I for some odd reason have always loved infomercials. Show me a testimonial and give me a discount and that product is as good as mine. I used to wonder why I was so easily swayed when watching HSN or paid programming and then I realized it was in my blood. My grandmother is the queen of home shopping. Whether it is buying five magic bullets or two 100 piece knife sets, she is the woman of advertiser's dreams. There is actually no one else in my family like this except for me. I've fallen for such marketing schemes as Tan Towels, the Ab Rocket, Shakeweight, and the microwavable egg maker to name a few. So the other day when my grandma told me she had me a present, I was excited. Of course the rest of my family groaned but I knew it'd be good. She started off, "I found you this great pan.." I knew right away it was the Perfect Brownie Pan. We've all seen the commercials, it bakes each brownie individually and cuts them in the pan for perfect edges. To most people I doubt it holds much appeal but I have wanted that since the first time I saw it.
The point of this whole story is I've been on a brownie making frenzy these past few days. I'll be honest, changing around the baking pan on all of these recipes hasn't exactly produced the best results but at least the brownies have all been beautifully cut (haha). It bakes brownies differently so they haven't come out like I've wanted yet, I'm going to keep trying though. For this recipe turning a cake into brownies was just a little experiment for me. Surprisingly it turned out ok, but I'm sure the cake form would be amazing. My advice: the taste was delicious so don't be like me, follow the directions and this recipe should turn out great.

Mississippi Mud Cake
Recipe from Southern Living
Yield: Makes 15 servings


  • 1  cup  butter, melted
  • 2  cups  sugar
  • 1/2  cup  unsweetened cocoa
  • 4  large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1  teaspoon  vanilla extract
  • 1/8  teaspoon  salt
  • 1 1/2  cups  all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2  cups  coarsely chopped pecans, toasted
  • 1  (10.5-ounce) bag miniature marshmallows


  • 1  (16-ounce) package powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1/2  cup  milk
  • 1/4  cup  butter, softened
  • 1/3  cup  unsweetened cocoa


Whisk together melted butter and next 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Stir in flour and chopped pecans. Pour batter into a greased and floured 15- x 10-inch jellyroll pan.
Bake at 350° for 20 to 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven; top warm cake evenly with marshmallows. Return to oven, and bake 5 minutes. Drizzle Chocolate Frosting over warm cake. Cool completely.
Note: 2 (19.5-ounce) packages brownie mix, prepared according to package directions, may be substituted for first 7 ingredients. Stir in chopped pecans. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes. Proceed with marshmallows and frosting as directed.

Preparation for Chocolate Sauce 

Beat all ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth.