It's 7 a.m. on a Monday morning. This is not by any stretch the most normal time for a new post, but I'm also studying new testament archaeology for an 11 a.m. exam and my brain needed a little break. This recipe is super easy and absolutely delicious.  True to its name, it tastes just like a cinnamon roll in cake form. You can't go wrong with a cinnamon roll period and in cake form it's arguably even better. I felt the same way when I made peanut butter and banana cupcakes. I made this recipe last week on my birthday and coincidentally my roommate has a coffee cake recipe that is almost exactly like this that she made for me the same day. Her recipe has a packet of vanilla pudding in it as well that makes it extremely moist (a.k.a. delicious). I'll find out the recipe and post that one later. I consider this to be more cake tasting than coffee cake tasting, but you'll never see me complaining about eating desserts for breakfast!
I don't know why I didn't find out the trick to add sour cream to box cake mixes a long time ago. It really is heavenly. Although the box mix makes it not quite as homemade, there are some days when a homemade cake isn't practical time-wise. So voila, I give you the perfect solution!
I got this recipe from The Repressed Pastry Chef, but she originally got it from Baseball, Baking and Books.

Cinnamon Roll Cake
Recipe from Baseball, Baking and Books
Yellow Cake Mix
4 eggs
¾ cup oil
1 cup sour cream
Mix by hand and pour in 13 x 9 greased baking pan.
1 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
Mix and pour over cake batter. Swirl into batter with knife.

Bake @ 325 for 30-40 minutes until done. Let cake cool 10 – 15 minutes before icing.
Icing: 2 cups powdered sugar
4 tbsp milk
Pour over warm cake

Every time I see a recipe I like online I bookmark it and it goes into the long long list of online recipes I want to make. I once tried to put all of these recipes onto a word document and print it out, but it was over 125 pages long (way too much ink for my budget!). There's a problem with this method of doing things, however, and that is that I forget about them once they go into that folder.  But, every once in a while I come across a recipe that I bookmark, but then can't get out of my mind. I'll often go back to these recipes on occasion just to look at the ingredient list and make sure I'm stocked for whenever I want to make it. These cupcakes fall into that category.
I turned 20 Sunday, so I decided to make these to help celebrate my birthday. With all the alcohol in these they seem more appropriate for a 21st birthday, but why wait for that?  There are 3 possible additions of alcohol with these cupcakes: Bailey's in the frosting, Guinness in the cupcakes, and Irish whiskey in the ganache. Whoever created these must've been trying to clear out their liquor cabinet. I added all three, just to see how it tasted, but I liked the addition of Guinness to the cupcakes the best. The other two I could've gone without, though I'd recommend making these with at least the Bailey's for the first time around. The Guinness bakes out of the cupcakes but leaves them really rich and moist. My favorite thing was the chocolate filling in the middle of the cupcakes. I've never filled cupcakes before, but after seeing how easy it was and how amazing the results were, I think I'm hooked. I subbed out the buttercream recipe used on  Smitten Kitchen and instead made a few adjustments to the Magnolia Bakery buttercream recipe since I like that one so much. These are definitely a twist on the basic cupcakes and would be fun for any occasion.

Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes
Recipe from Smitten Kitchen
1 cup stout (such as Guinness)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream

Ganache Filling
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 to 2 teaspoons Irish whiskey (optional)
Bailey's Buttercream
Recipe adapted from Magnolia Bakery
2 sticks of butter,  soft
6-8 cups of confectioners sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup Bailey's
2 tsp vanilla extract

Special equipment: 1-inch round cookie cutter or an apple corer and a piping bag (though a plastic bag with the corner snipped off will also work)
Make the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 24 cupcake cups with liners. Bring 1 cup stout and 1 cup butter to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.
Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in large bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat eggs and sour cream in another large bowl to blend. Add stout-chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat just to combine. Add flour mixture and beat briefly on slow speed. Using rubber spatula, fold batter until completely combined. Divide batter among cupcake liners, filling them 2/3 to 3/4 of the way. Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, rotating them once front to back if your oven bakes unevenly, about 17 minutes. Cool cupcakes on a rack completely.
Make the filling: Chop the chocolate and transfer it to a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream until simmering and pour it over the chocolate. Let it sit for one minute and then stir until smooth. (If this has not sufficiently melted the chocolate, you can return it to a double-boiler to gently melt what remains. 20 seconds in the microwave, watching carefully, will also work.) Add the butter and whiskey (if you’re using it) and stir until combined.
Fill the cupcakes: Let the ganache cool until thick but still soft enough to be piped (the fridge will speed this along but you must stir it every 10 minutes). Meanwhile, using your 1-inch round cookie cutter or an apple corer, cut the centers out of the cooled cupcakes. You want to go most of the way down the cupcake but not cut through the bottom — aim for 2/3 of the way. A slim spoon or grapefruit knife will help you get the center out. Those are your “tasters”. Put the ganache into a piping bag with a wide tip and fill the holes in each cupcake to the top.
For the Buttercream : Cream  butter and 4 cups of sugar.
Add in the vanilla, baileys 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)

If you haven't noticed, I steer clear of even remotely healthy recipes. I have a feeling I could've adapted this recipe to be healthy, alas I did not. There are many different choices you can make, i.e. which dried fruits/nuts to use, which oils, etc., but I picked my poison and as always, it was chocolate. After Deb of Smitten Kitchen raved about this recipe on her site I felt that I just had to give them a shot, but I wanted to try to model it as closely as possible to chewy bars. I'm a chewy bar fanatic, I always have a box around and have successfully convinced myself that they are extremely good for me (don't try to tell me otherwise!). These bars didn't turn out like my beloved chewys at all, but they were pretty darn good. It's spring break right now so I am baking at my house and my mom even said these were one of her new favorite recipes. I think the additions of honey, corn syrup, peanut butter, and butter destroy my hopes of it being healthy but hey, a girl can dream. I chose to use semi-sweet chocolate chips and raisins in mine, but I'm going to copy over what Deb wrote so you all can see how flexible this recipe really is. Enjoy!

"Of note: The original recipe calls for something called “sticky bun sugar” which can be made at home with sugar, butter and corn syrup. It is for this reason that corn syrup is listed within one ingredient but also separately, and I used all butter rather than two different fats. Whether the corn syrup can be entirely replaced with honey or maple syrup or the butter can be entirely replaced with a healthier oil is worth auditioning, I just didn’t. Yet. I can tell you this: as is, this is the best granola bar I’ve ever eaten."

Thick, Chewy, Granola Bars
Recipe from Smitten Kitchen

1 2/3 cups quick rolled oats (if gluten-free, be sure to use gluten-free oats)
1/2 to 3/4 cup granulated sugar (use more for a sweetness akin to most purchased bars; use less for a mildly sweet bar)
1/3 cup oat flour (or 1/3 cup oats, processed till finely ground in a food processor or blender)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 to 3 cups dried fruits and nuts (total of 10 to 15 ounces)*
1/3 cup peanut butter or another nut butter (I used almond butter) (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional, namely because I was not convinced that the flavor came through)
6 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 cup honey, maple syrup or corn syrup
2 tablespoons light corn syrup (see Note above)
1 tablespoon water

 (I used 1 1/2 cups raisins and 1 cup chocolate chips, and yes, of course I added the peanut butter.)
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 8″ x 8″ x 2″ pan in one direction with parchment paper, allowing it to go up the opposing sides. Lightly grease the parchment paper and the exposed pan, or coat with a non-stick spray.
Stir together all the dry ingredients, including the fruit and nuts. In a separate bowl, whisk together the vanilla, melted butter or oil, liquid sweeteners and water. Toss the wet ingredients with the dry (and peanut butter, if you’re using it) until the mixture is evenly crumbly. Spread in the prepared pan, pressing them in firmly to ensure they are molded to the shape of the pan. (A piece of plastic wrap can help with this, as you press down on the back of it.)
Bake the bars for 30 to 40 minutes, until they’re brown around the edges — don’t be afraid to get a little color on the tops too. They’ll still seem soft and almost underbaked when you press into the center of the pan but do not worry, they’ll set completely once completely cool.
Cool the bars in their pan completely on a cooling rack. (Alternately, after about 20 minutes you can use your parchment “sling” to lift and remove the bars, and place them in their paper on the rack to cool the rest of the way. This can speed the process up.)
Once cool, a serrated knife (or bench knife) to cut the bars into squares. [Updating to note, as many had crumbling issues:] If bars seem crumbly, chill the pan of them further in the fridge for 30 minutes which will fully set the “glue”, then cut them cold. To store, wrap the bars individually in plastic or stack them in an airtight container. In humid weather, it’s best to store bars in the refrigerator. They also freeze well.

My mom loves coconut. The only problem is, no one else in our family does. I've gradually started to like it more since I tried my first Samoa and realized it wasn't half bad, but I would never order anything coconut off a menu.  I've also never made anything coconut. At christmas she makes macaroons, I make meringues. But, Friday was her birthday so I decided I'd give a coconut recipe a try. This recipe was a disaster from beginning to end in the making. I was rushing to get it done and in turn destroyed two batches of lemon curd, which was supposed to be the filling (that's a lot of lemons and eggs!). Luckily, the icing I chose for the outside of the cake was amazing and the batch turned out to be plenty to frost the whole cake. I liked the final product so much I won't be trying this recipe with lemon curd, it was perfect how it was. Because the original recipe calls for it, I'm sure it's even better with it. I think I'm just fed up with lemon curd for now, but that doesn't mean you all shouldn't give it a try! My only suggestion would be to put parchment down in the bottom of the pans before pouring the batter in. Not doing this contributed to part two of my disaster: One of the layers split in two.
Like I said before, no one in my family likes coconut, but everyone tried this cake and liked it. I didn't add the extra coconut between the layers so the lemon flavor came through much more which made it more appealing to everyone. My mom said she thought it would've been even better with it, though, so if you like coconut, add it. I ended up taking these pictures three days after I made it and after it had been put in the fridge so they don't do the cake justice. Trust me on this though, this recipe has made me like coconut even more than when I tried the Samoa (and it's pretty hard to beat Girl Scout Cookies). I thought it was much better before going in the fridge so I would recommend covering it and leaving it out to help it stay moist.

Coconut Cake with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting
Recipe from The Foster's Market Cookbook

Ingredients for the cake:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cup sugar
6 large eggs, separated
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup canned coconut cream (such as Coco Lopez)
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut

Ingredients for the frosting:
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
Two 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
5 cups confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups sweetened flaked coconut

*This is a great recipe for just plain cream cheese frosting too if you leave out the coconut. It also can be made into a fruit cream cheese frosting with the addition of 1 cup fresh berries. YUM!

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Grease and lightly flour two 9-inch cake pans and set aside (I used 3 pans)
  3. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl and stir to mix. Set aside.
  4. Cream together the butter and sugar in a separate bowl with an electric mixer.
  5. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition until mixture is light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and stir by hand to mix well.
  6. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, alternating with the buttermilk and coconut cream. Stir until all the dry ingredients are moist and blended. Do not overmix.
  7. With an electric mixer whip the egg whites in a separate bowl 2 to 3 minutes, until soft peaks form. Gently fold the egg whites into the cake batter.
  8. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans and bake 40-45 minutes (If you use more pans, like I did, decrease this time by about 10 minutes. Remove from oven when cakes are firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. 
  9. Remove from the oven and cool the cakes 10 to 15 minutes in the pans. Remove from the pans and continue to cool on a baking rack.
  10. Place the butter and cream cheese in a bowl and cream together with an electric mixer until light and smooth.
  11. Add the confectioner's sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition until smooth.
  12. Add the orange zest and vanilla and continue to mix on high speed about 1 minute to make the frosting light and fluffy.
  13. Add 2 cups sweetened falked cocnut and stir until well blended.
  14. Once the cakes have cooled completely, use a long, serrated knife to slice off the top rounded potion of each cake to make a flat, even surface. Discard trimmings.
  15. Place one layer cut side down on a cake plate. Spread generously with icing and sprinkle cocnut over layer. Continue with next layer and spread top and sides of cake with frosting. 

First, I have to mention that my font used for titles apparently doesn't allow apostrophes.  That's probably a minor detail that no one else cared about, but it bothered me so I wanted to mention that it's there, just not showing up!
Now to the more important things: brownies. Dark, rich, fudgy delicious brownies. I must admit, I rarely make brownies. I absolutely love them, but I decided a long time ago that Ghirardelli brownie mix was unbeatable. It also only takes about two minutes to whip up and is virtually impossible to mess up. I think this is why I always defaulted to them. This is all a thing of the past now because I have found these.  These are for the fudgy brownie lovers. They aren't remotely cake-like, in fact they have to sit out a while and set because they're so moist inside that straight out of the oven they'll collapse. I guarantee these will eliminate even the most massive chocolate cravings with one bite...not that you'll be able to stop after one bite, but still.

Rick Katz's Brownies For Julia
Recipe from Dorie Greenspan
  • 1 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces
  • 4 oz. unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 2 c. sugar
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs
* I added 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips as well.

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350ยบ F.  Put a 9 inch square baking pan (I like to use Pyrex for this) on a baking sheet.  *I made it in an 8 x 8 pan and just cooked it for a little longer. Whisk flour and salt together.
Set a heat proof bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water, put the butter and chocolate in.  Stir frequently until the ingredients are just melted-you don’t want them to get so hot that the butter separates. (I did this in the microwave) Add 1 c. sugar and whisk gently just to incorporate it, then remove the bowl from the pan of water.   Stir in the vanilla and transfer to a large bowl.
Put the remaining cup of sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer or a medium bowl and whisking a whisk, stir in the eggs.  Switch to a rubber spatula and little by little add half of the sugar-egg mixture to the warm chocolate, stirring very gently without stopping-you don’t want the heat of the chocolate to cook the eggs.
With the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer beat the remaining sugar and eggs on medium-high for about 3 minutes, or until they double in volume.   Using a spatula and a light touch, fold the whipped eggs into the chocolate, stopping just short of blending them in completely.
Sprinkle the dry ingredients over the batter and delicately fold them in, working only until they disappear.   Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top with the spatula.
Bake for 25-28 minutes, or until the top looks dry.   Poke a thin knife into the center and take a peek:  The brownies should be only just set and still pretty gooey.
Transfer the pan to a rack and cool to room temperature.
The brownies are fragile and best cut in the pan.   Cut eighteen 1½ x 3 inch bars.

I just finished my last midterm of the week and finally have time to write a new post. I made these the same day as the Dark Chocolate Peppermint Pattie Cake, but life has been a little hectic to say the least so here they are a few days late! Good thing these little cookies were so good that I remember them perfectly. Usually I'm a chewy cookie lover. I often underbake cookies I make which leaves all of the crunchy lovers quite disappointed, but I refuse to see the difference between crunchy and burnt. I've been known to throw away batches of cookies that other people consider just right. These sandwich cookies are a perfect compromise. They are crunchy on the outside, but not in a burnt sort of way. I would compare them to a crunchy Oreo outside that is complemented by the smooth inside for a perfect combination.
One thing I especially love about these is the peanut butter in the chocolate filling. It makes it much richer and creamier than plain chocolate fillings that often go with cookies. And, as is probably evidenced by the fact the "peanut butter" tag on my blog is the third largest, I'm always happy with a little extra pb taste. I honestly can see myself making these for anything. They don't keep all that well because the cookie gets softer as the days progress, but I didn't have a problem with leftovers anyway. They're fun and simple looking, but also look like they required more of an effort than they actually do. I will definitely be making these again.

Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies with Milk Chocolate Filling
Recipe from Karen DeMasco's The Craft of Baking
Makes about 2 dozen cookies

Cookie Ingredients
1 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon lightly packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon confectioners sugar
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg

Filling Ingredients
6 ounces milk chocolate, roughly chopped
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup confectioners sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter, brown sugar, and confectioners' sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the peanut butter and beat to combine, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the oil, vanilla, and egg and beat until just combined, about 20 seconds. Add the flour mixture, beating just to combine.

Lightly flour the palms of your hands (I found that this took a lot more flour than I expected). Roll the dough into balls about 1/2 inch in diameter. Place them about 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake, rotating the sheets halfway through, until the cookies are golden brown on the edges, about 12 minutes. Transfer the baking sheets to wire racks and let cool completely. (The cookies can be stored, unfilled, in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.)

To make the filling, combine the chocolate, peanut butter, confectioners' sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a boil. Remove the cream from the hear and pour it over the chocolate mixture. Stir with a spatula until the chocolate is completely melted. Set the bowl in an ice bath, or chill it in the refrigerator, until the filling has cooled to room temperature and is thick enough to spread. Then use it immediately or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate it for up to one week (let it come to room temperature before using).

Using an offset spatula, spread 1 teaspoon of the filling over the flat sides of half of the cookies. Sandwich with the remaining cookies, flat sides together.

Once filled, the cookies are best eaten the same day, but they can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.