This weekend we got a whopping 6 inches of snow! I recognize that for most places that's not a lot, but here in Chapel Hill just seeing snow is a big deal. Well, with all of the snow and everyone being snowed inside I figured the perfect thing to do was bake. This became a problem when I realized I had used the last of the eggs for french toast just hours before. I started scanning recipes seeing which might work but everything that caught my eye required eggs (this could be because, as always, I was craving chocolate in cake or cookie form). But then I saw a peppermint pattie recipe I had bookmarked awhile back and realized I had all of the ingredients. I felt like peppermint patties were also a perfect treat for a cold snowy day so I was quite happy to have found this recipe again. The mints themselves are extremely easy to make and coat in chocolate. Although my heart lies with York's, these are cheaper and more impressive. I'm going to try to brave the grocery store today and stock back up on my eggs and chocolate, but I'm glad I was forced to try something new yesterday. I added a bit more water and corn syrup to get the mints to what I thought was a better consistency but because I just eyed it I will post the recipe as I found it and leave that part to your discretion. I also didn't temper the chocolate, just melted it, and I used a shot glass to cut out the mints at the suggestion of the Sweet Cheeks blog. Worked like a charm.

Peppermint Patties
Recipe from Sweet Cheeks
(Originally from Gourmet magazine)
Yield: 3-4 dozen

2 1/2 cups confectioners sugar, divided
1 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 1/2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
1 T shortening
10 ounces 70%-cacao bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

Make filling:
Beat 2 1/4 cups confectioners sugar with corn syrup, water, peppermint extract, shortening, and a pinch of salt using an electric mixer (with paddle attachment if using a stand mixer) at medium speed until just combined. Knead on a work surface dusted with remaining 1/4 cup confectioners sugar until smooth. Roll out between sheets of parchment paper on a large baking sheet into a 7- to 8-inch round (less than 1/4 inch thick). Freeze until firm, about 15 minutes. Remove top sheet of paper and sprinkle round with confectioners sugar. Replace top sheet, then flip round over and repeat sprinkling on other side.

Cut out as many rounds as possible with cutter, transferring to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Freeze until firm, at least 10 minutes. Meanwhile, gather scraps, reroll, and freeze, then cut out more rounds, freezing them.
Temper chocolate and coat filling:
Melt three fourths of chocolate in a metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Remove bowl from pan and add remaining chocolate, stirring until smooth. Cool until thermometer inserted at least 1/2 inch into chocolate registers 80°F.

Return water in pan to a boil and remove from heat. Set bowl with cooled chocolate over pan and reheat, stirring, until thermometer registers 88 to 91°F. Remove bowl from pan.

Balance 1 peppermint round on a fork and submerge in melted chocolate, letting excess drip off and scraping back of fork against rim of bowl if necessary, then return patty to sheet (to make decorative ridges on pattie, immediately set bottom of fork briefly on top of patty, then lift fork straight up). Coat remaining rounds, rewarming chocolate to 88 to 91°F as necessary. Let patties stand until chocolate is set, about 1 hour.

To all the chocoholics out there: this cake is for you.
At first I thought it hadn't turned out quite right, it was extremely moist which I wasn't expecting and this presented some challenges when slicing layers. But when I iced the ganache on, it surprisingly came together just fine. After placing the cake in the fridge for an hour or so I took it out and had a slice of what was the most delicious chocolate cake I've had in months. It is rich, but not too rich. My roommate and I both got bigger pieces than we anticipated finishing yet had absolutely no issues in cleaning our plates. The pictures aren't quite as "pretty" because of the moistness, but I tried to take them in a way to do the cake justice.  I forgot to whip the ganache which is what the recipe called for. I'm sure this would make it even more amazing so I've included all of the instructions for that. This is the second recipe I've made from Karen Barkers: Sweet Stuff and so far it's 2 for 2.

Devil's Food Cake with Whipped Ganache
Recipe from Karen Barkers: Sweet Stuff

1 1/2 cups + 2 1/2 tablespoons flour
3/4 cup cocoa
2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 eggs
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup brewed coffee, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla

Chocolate Ganache
2 cups cream
16 ounces semi sweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces

Preparation for cake:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 10x2-inch round cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper . Line the sides of the pan with a parchment "collar" which extends 1 1/2 inches above the sides of the pan. Butter the parchment paper and dust the pan with cocoa, tapping off the excess. If you would prefer to use 2 8-inch pans there is no need to collar the pans; just line the bottoms with parchment. Cut each 8-inch layer in half and use 3 of the layers, spreading the ganache between two of them to form a 3 layer cake. Snack on the remaining layer.
2. Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and baking powder; add the salt. Reserve.
3. In a mixer, using a whip attachment, beat the eggs with the sugar until the mixture is thick and light (4 to 5 minutes). Reduce the speed and beat in the vegetable oil. Alternately, add the reserved dry ingredients with the buttermilk, pausing to scrape the bowl several times. Add the coffee and the vanilla and mix to blend. Be forewarned that this is a very thin batter. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking pan.
4. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 55-60 minutes or until the top of the cake is springy to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center tests are clean. Cool the cake in the pan for 20 minutes.
5. Remove the parchment collar and turn the cake out onto a cardboard cake circle.
6.** Prepare the whipped ganache by placing the cooled ganache in a mixer bowl--its consistency should be solid but creamy and malleable--and whip until the ganache just starts to thicken and lighten in color slightly. It should be of spreadable consistency.
7. Slice the cooled cake into two layers and spread the bottom layer with whipped ganache. Top with the remaining layer, pressing down lightly. Unless the weather is very warm, keep this cake at room temperature before serving. It can be made up to 2 days ahead of time. If refrigerated bring it to room temperature to serve. I like to cut wedges of this cake and pour a light glaze of cocoa fudge sauce over the top of each portion, allowing a bit to drip down the sides, just before serving. If you would like to leave the cake plain, sprinkle some powdered sugar over the top just to give it a more finished look.

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 chopped chocolate. Replace the pan over very low heat and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the chocolate is completely melted.
2. Remove from heat and strain through a fine-mesh strainer.
3. Because the ganache will be used as a filling or icing, it is best to allow it to cool to room temperature. It should reach thickened, spreadable consistency after sitting for several hours or overnight.

A warm, toasted peanut butter and banana sandwich is quite possibly my favorite food. It's not one of those foods that I'd remember to say if someone asked what my favorite food was, but every time I have one I am reminded of what a perfect combination of ingredients it is. So naturally, when I saw the recipe for banana cupcakes with peanut butter buttercream I felt as if Karen DeMasco was reading my mind. I've got a feeling she's a pb&b lover too, why else would she decide the only thing more perfect than this combination in sandwich form is the same thing in cupcake form? Pure genius. The recipe itself is extremely easy, my only complaint is that because I don't have a stand mixer I had to do all of the long mixing by hand. That's nothing against the recipe though. I often find that I have 2 over-ripened bananas but not 4 (as a lot of breads call for), so this recipe is ideal for a quick fix for leftover bananas.

Banana Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Buttercream
Recipe from Karen DeMasco's The Craft of Baking 
Makes 1 dozen

3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
3/4 cup mashed banana (about 1/2 medium bananas, mashed with a fork)
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 large egg whites (1/4 cup)
1/4 cup sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, at room temperature
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a standard 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar and oil. Whisk in the banana, egg, egg yolk, buttermilk, and vanilla.
In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Using a whisk, mix the flour mixture into the banana mixture until just combined. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups, filling them three-quarters full. Bake, rotating the tin halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Invert the cupcakes onto a wire rack, turn them top side up and let them cool completely.
To make the buttercream, fill a medium saucepan with 2 inches of water and bring it to a simmer. In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk together the egg whites and sugar. Set the bowl on top of the saucepan, and whisking constantly, heat the egg mixture until it is warm to the touch, about 3 minutes. Transfer the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whisk on medium speed until the whites become translucent and shiny and form a soft peak, about 5 minutes more.
With the machine running, add the butter, a cube at a time, and mix until combined. Increase the speed to medium-high and add the peanut butter, vanilla and salt. Scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary, beat until the buttercream becomes shiny and creamy, about 10 minutes. (The buttercream can be refrigerated for 1 week of frozen for up to one month. Before using, bring it to room temperature and beat it for a few minutes until smooth.) Spread the buttercream over the tops of the cupcakes, swirling it decoratively.
The cupcakes can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

The weather the past two days has been awful. In my opinion, 35 degree weather is bad enough, adding rain and wind is just downright miserable. But there is one good thing that comes out of awful winter weather: baking. The long walk to and from class a few times a day in this weather never fails to put me in a bad mood, but luckily a nice warm cake never fails to put me in a great mood.
I saw this cake and knew I had to make it since the subhead said it was the author's "go-to" birthday cake. I could see why after baking it, the cake is great. It was much more time-consuming than I had anticipated but if I had been making this cake for an occasion rather than just to have it around the apartment I think I wouldn't have minded nearly as much. This was definitely one of those cakes that took every bowl in the kitchen, big and small. The final result is a flavorful, light and moist 3 layer cake that beats any store bought cake by a mile. The frosting had a good flavor as well but I didn't love the consistency of it. I have made many buttercreams and I felt that this one was not nearly as good as half of the others but required considerably more work. Overall, the cake received rave review all around and I was the only one bothered by the frosting. It can also be made into cupcakes which I'm sure would turn out perfectly.

Yellow Cake with Milk Chocolate Buttercream
Recipe from Karen Demasco's The Craft of Baking

2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
12 tablespoons (1 11/2) unsalted butter, very soft, plus extra for the pans
1 3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
7 large egg yolks
3 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sour cream
7 large egg whites

4 1/2 ounces milk chocolate, roughly chopped
12 ounces (3 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
3/4 cup egg whites (about 5 large egg whites)
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

For the cake:

Butter the bottoms and sides of three 8-inch cake pans and line the bottoms of the pans with rounds of parchment paper. Butter the tops of the paper liners, and then dust the pans with the all-purpose flour, tapping off any excess.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter 1 1/2 cups sugar, and vanilla extract on medium speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl several times, until pale and fluffy, 5 minutes. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, letting each become incorporated into the batter before adding the next.
In a separate bowl, sift the cake flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Reduce the mixer speed to low and alternate adding the flour mixture and the sour cream to the butter mixture, adding one third of each at a time and letting them fully mix in before adding the next. When all of the flour mixture and sour cram have been added, turn the mixer to medium-high speed and mix for about 2 minutes to fully incorporate the ingredients and help build the structure.
Scrape the batter into a large mixing bowl. Clean the bowl to the mixer well and, using the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites on low speed until frothy, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and increase speed to medium high. Whip whites to soft peaks, then fold them into the batter in 3 additions.
Divide the batter between the three prepared cake pans and spread it out evenly with a spatula. Place pans on two baking sheets. Bake the cakes, rotating the pans and switching the cakes between the upper and lower racks of the oven halfway through, until they are lightly golden on top, gently bounce back when touched, and a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes.
Transfer the cake pans to a wire rack and let the cakes cool for 30 minutes. Then remove them from the pan and let them cool completely, at least 3 hours, before frosting.

For the buttercream:
Pour about 2 inches of water into a saucepan and bring it to a simmer. Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set it over, but not touching, the simmering water. When the chocolate has melted, remove the bowl from the heat and whisk in 4 tablespoons of the butter. Set aside.
Combine the egg whites and the sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer, and set it over the same spot of simmering water. Whisking constantly so that the eggs don’t cook, heat the mixture until the sugar is completely dissolved, about 2 minutes. Transfer the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and starting on low speed, beat the whites. When they become frothy and translucent, after about 3 minutes, increase the speed to medium. Beat until the whites become shiny and thick, about 2 minutes. Add the remaining 10 ounces (2 1/2 sticks) butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, without waiting for each to be absorbed. The buttercream will appear thin and broken. Add the chocolate mixture, vanilla and salt, and beat to combine, until it becomes shiny, smooth, and silky.
Using a serrated knife, trim the tops of the cake layers to make them level. Place one later on a cake plate and spread the top with 3/4 cup buttercream. Repeat with the second layer. Place the third layer on top. Using an offset spatula, spread the remaining buttercream over the entire cake, swirling to decorate.
The cake is best eaten the day it is assembled but can be kept at room temperature, loosely covered in plastic wrap, for up to 2 days.

After how well my great grandmother's pound cake turned out a few weeks ago I decided I'd give pound cakes another go. It took me awhile to make this because it has creme de cacao in it and despite the fact that I was only using it for baking, I'm still not old enough to buy it. But it was definitely worth the wait.
One thing about this recipe that was different from the others was a breadcrumb coating on the bundt pan. This coating adds a crunch to the crust which is great contrasted with the inside. The cake turned out really well. It's moist on the inside and not too dense like a lot of pound cakes. The dark creme de cacao added an extra richness to the recipe that was excellent so I'm glad I didn't try to make this with any substitutions.
I wasn't in a patient mood last night when I baked it so I didn't let it cool before deciding I wanted to decorate it with whipped cream which didn't turn out like I'd planned. Luckily the melted whipped cream didn't look so bad on the cake anyways. The recipe says the cake is best made 24 hours in advance. It hasn't quite been 24 hours yet, but I had a piece last night and this morning with breakfast and it was delicious both times.

Milk Chocolate Chip Pound Cake
Recipe from Sweet Stuff: Karen Barker's American Desserts

fine, dried, unseasoned breadcrumbs for coating the pan
3 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
24 tablespoons (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 3/8 cup light brown sugar
1 3/8 cup sugar
5 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon dark creme de cacao
3/4 cup milk
2 1/4 cup milk chocolate chips

Ingredients for the glaze
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup dark creme de cacao

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 10inch, 12-cup Bundt pan and dust the pan with breadcrumbs, shaking off any excess crumbs.
2. Sift the flour and baking powder. Add the salt. Reserve.
3. In the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle, cream the butter till light and fluffy. Gradually add both the brown and granulated sugar and beat for several minutes, occasionally scraping the bowl.
4. Add the eggs one at a time briefly eating and scraping the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla and creme de cacao and mix to combine.
5. Alternately add the reserved dry ingredients with the milk and mix just to combine. Stir in the milk chocolate chips. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan.
6. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes. When done, the cake will be golden brown and will test done if checked by inserting a toothpick. Remove from oven and allow the cake to cool for about 15 minutes while to prepare the glaze.

Preparation for the glaze and assembly
1. Combine the sugar and creme de cacao in a small saucepan and cook over low heat till the sugar is just dissolved.
2. Turn the Cake out onto a cooling rack and immediately brush the warm cake with the warm glaze. Allow to cool completely before serving. This cake is best if made 24 hours in advance.

Ahh, I love finding new go-to recipes. These s'mores cookies were chock full of goodies.  The combination of both toppings and the chocolate chips inside made each cookie absolutely perfect.  I made them pretty small because in my mind it makes me feel like Im eating less, but I had so many of these it was pointless. The s'more-cookie hybrid is an amazing combination and I can already tell will be making these many many times in the future.

S'mores Cookies

Recipe from Lovin' From the Oven

 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
 1 teaspoon baking soda
 1 teaspoon salt
 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
 3/4 cup sugar
 3/4 cup brown sugar
 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
 2 eggs
 2 cups miniature chocolate chips
 1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows
 2 Hershey bars, chopped


   1. In a stand mixer, combine the butter and sugars until fluffy.
   2. Mix in eggs and vanilla until combined. Add the flour, graham crackers, salt, and baking soda, mix well. Stir in the chocolate chips.
   3. Refrigerate dough for about an hour.
   4. Preheat oven to 375ºF.
   5. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto cookie sheets. Bake for 8 minutes, and remove from the oven.  Push 3 to 4 marshmallows and a few pieces of a hershey's bar into each cookie. Return to the oven and bake an additional 2-3 minutes until fully cooked. Cool cookies on a wire rack.
   6. Makes 3 dozen cookies.

This Christmas my mom decided there should be a theme to the holiday. Though this idea is extremely corny, that's just the type of stuff we do around my house. So the theme became "old traditions, new traditions" because for the first year ever we had Christmas dinner in our house instead of my grandma's. Because of this, my mom decided she wanted to make two of my great grandmothers' recipes, pound cake from one side of the family and homemade banana pudding from the other side. This pound cake was the easiest one I've ever made and it tasted better than all of the complicated ones. My mom said it didn't rise as much as it used to when her grandmother made it but hopefully next time I make it I can figure out what to do differently that might change that. I hate how in most pound cake recipes you end up having to sift cups and cups of flour, so this was the perfect recipe for me. As you can see in the picture below we still have the recipe card in her original handwriting, funny how simple recipes were back then!

Grandmother's Pound Cake
2 cups sugar
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
4 eggs
2 cups all purpose flour
pinch of salt
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp lemon extract
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Combine sugar and butter, cream well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add in the flour and a pinch of salt. Once combined beat in vanilla and lemon extracts. Pour into greased bundt pan for approximately one hour, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.