i am baker http://iambaker.net Confections & Creations Fri, 31 Oct 2014 11:36:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 Pumpkin Cheesecake with Chocolate Crust http://iambaker.net/pumpkin-cheesecake-with-chocolate-crust/ http://iambaker.net/pumpkin-cheesecake-with-chocolate-crust/#comments Fri, 31 Oct 2014 11:36:17 +0000 http://iambaker.net/?p=45727 Cheesecake Factory Pumpkin Cheesecake Recipe with Chocolate Crust!
This is such a classic and great tasting dessert, I am ashamed I never shared it on my blog until now! The recipe I am sharing is a “copykat” recipe, in that it is reminiscent of the Cheesecake Factory’s® scrumptious Pumpkin Cheesecake. While I love eating it there, making it at home has it’s benefits... 

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Cheesecake Factory Pumpkin Cheesecake Recipe with Chocolate Crust!

This is such a classic and great tasting dessert, I am ashamed I never shared it on my blog until now!

The recipe I am sharing is a “copykat” recipe, in that it is reminiscent of the Cheesecake Factory’s® scrumptious Pumpkin Cheesecake. While I love eating it there, making it at home has it’s benefits too.

Like being able to drizzle all the caramel you want over your piece.

There is something quite magical about caramel and pumpkin!

I seriously could not wait to try a piece. It was my first piece of Pumpkin Cheesecake for the season, and I hope it’s not the last.  My goodness cheesecake is amazing.  As much as the famous New York style is a staple, from October to January this becomes my new favorite.

Especially since you can make so many changes!  Switch out the crust for a shortbread or chocolate (like I have done here), cover in cinnamon whipped cream or caramel buttercream, you could even add a layer of caramel or chocolate ganache on top.

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Chocolate Crust

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces Pre-Made Chocolate Pie Crust, about 2 - 2 1/4 cups
  • 6 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin (16 ounce can)
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon McCormick® Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • whipped cream
  • caramel sauce

Instructions

  1. Make the crust by combining the pre-made chocolate cracker crumbs with the melted butter in a medium bowl.
  2. Prepare a 9-inch springform pan. (I spray with bakers spray then place a piece of parchment at bottom)
  3. Press the crumbs evenly into the bottom of the springform pan.
  4. In a stand mixer combine the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla.
  5. Add the pumpkin, eggs, pumpkin pie spice and continue beating until smooth and creamy. (about 2 minutes)
  6. Pour the filling into the pan.
  7. Bake for 60-70 minutes at 350 degrees.
  8. Remove from the oven and allow the cheesecake to cool.
  9. When the cheesecake has come to room temperature, put it into the refrigerator.
  10. When ready to serve the chilled cheesecake, add whipped cream to the top.
  11. Drizzle with caramel sauce .
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Recipe heavily adapted from food.com.

If you are a regular reader of my blog you know I like to use Oreo® crusts in a lot of things.  For this particular recipe, I thought the Oreo® flavoring was a bit too dominant, so I opted for simple chocolate crust.

My favorite way to swap out flavors is to buy pre-made pie crusts. (they are often less expensive then graham crackers!)

I used two 6-ounce packages and added the melted butter.  When I use these I do not bake the crust before assembling.

If you do not have access to these or would prefer to make your own crust, you will want about 1 1/2 cups of crumbs, 5-6 tablespoons of melted butter, then 1 tablespoon of sugar if it’s graham cracker.  Press into pan then bake for 5 minutes before filling.

TIP: When making cheesecake (any flavor) I highly recommend using room temperature ingredients.  Also, do not be afraid to really whip that cream cheese!  You want it to be smooth and creamy with no lumps.

I used my favorite Ateco pastry tip to pipe out simple dollops of whipped cream.  Then drizzled all that wonderful caramel.  Don’t leave that step out, it makes the cheesecake outstanding.

Especially if the cheesecake is chilled and the caramel is warm… now that’s magic.

You can prepare the cheesecake a couple days ahead of time.  I am making another one today for a party I have tomorrow, and really hoping and praying I can resist eating a piece before the event actually beings.

Wish me luck!

Be sure to check out my new book, Surprise-Inside Cakes!

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focus http://iambaker.net/focus/ http://iambaker.net/focus/#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2014 12:34:14 +0000 http://iambaker.net/?p=45704 Begin Each Day...
Many years ago I was in a neighborhood Bible study.  The book we covered was Calm My Anxious Heart by Linda Dillow; a wonderfully challenging book dealing with contentment, worry, insecurity issues and things out of our control. The study was a complete disaster for a couple reasons. 1. I was leading it. 2. I... 

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Begin Each Day...

Many years ago I was in a neighborhood Bible study.  The book we covered was Calm My Anxious Heart by Linda Dillow; a wonderfully challenging book dealing with contentment, worry, insecurity issues and things out of our control.

The study was a complete disaster for a couple reasons.

1. I was leading it.

2. I was a brand spanking new Christian.

The combination of those two things lead to a drama-filled and poorly executed Bible study, and the second it was over I cast my book to the side and never opened it again. Not blaming the book so much as just not wanting to be reminded of how little I had done to further His kingdom and how disappointing it was to not be a good Bible study leader.

But tonight, as I stood in front of the fireplace in our bedroom, there it was. Just sitting innocently on the shelf.  The familiar binding that I had glanced at so many times over the years, but then moved on to something else.

Not this time.

I picked it up and opened it and landed on page 99. It was a new chapter called Faulty Focus.

Well, wouldn’t you know (and by you I mean Him because He knows all!), that is exactly what I needed a little pep talk in?

There is a devotional by Phyllis Stanley:

“I want to live life very purposely, regularly reviewing and praying over my purpose in life, loving God intensely, cherishing and inspiring my husband, praying for and keeping connected spiritually with my children, loving woman and seeking to lay spiritual foundations.”

Yes.

Yes. Yes. Yes.

Today I lost focus.  I found myself judging others and thinking negative things about them.  I even took part in some pretty serious gossip.  Not only did I take part in it, I initiated it!

And then, for the rest of the day, my focus was lost.  I was not completing the smallest of tasks.  I was distracted and vague with my kids.  I was unmotivated.

That’s how fast sin takes hold of me.

I love the words from Phyllis above, “I want to live purposefully…

For me, that is the key to daily success.  Intentional living.

Not just waking up and being in a fog and going through the motions… but making the CHOICE to live right.  To seek God’s will in the little things as well as the big.

THREE QUICK TIPS TO STAY IN FOCUS:

1. Think of Him.  Let your first thoughts be ones of thankfulness and gratefulness.  Give a prayer of gratitude and let the first words from your lips be ones of love.

2. Find a verse that fits your need. Right now I want to be reminded of how important focus (and having the right focus) is, so I am meditating on this verse: “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33

3. Listen to worhsip music.  Have it on in the car, in the background at home, on your phone when out and about.  Surround yourself with the power of His name and the beauty of His grace and love.

If all that just seems to much to add to a hectic and stress filled day… do what God loves best.  Talk to Him.

Hoping your day is intentionally blessed!

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caramel cake with apple cider whipped cream http://iambaker.net/caramel-cake-with-apple-cider-whipped-cream/ http://iambaker.net/caramel-cake-with-apple-cider-whipped-cream/#comments Tue, 28 Oct 2014 15:01:13 +0000 http://iambaker.net/?p=45351 Caramel Cake with Caramel Frosting and Apple Cinnamon Whipped Cream!
This cake. It’s… well.   It’s one of the best tasting cakes I have ever had the privilege of making. But here is the thing… I am going to share TWO recipes for this cake.  The reason being is that when I made it from scratch I used Rose’s Caramel Cake.  I made it and... 

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Caramel Cake with Caramel Frosting and Apple Cinnamon Whipped Cream!

This cake.

It’s… well.   It’s one of the best tasting cakes I have ever had the privilege of making.

But here is the thing… I am going to share TWO recipes for this cake.  The reason being is that when I made it from scratch I used Rose’s Caramel Cake.  I made it and loved it.  Then I made it again and tried to tweak the recipe, but to no avail.  Every change I made did not help, and more likely it took away from an already perfect recipe.

This was especially true about the caramel icing.  There was absolutely zero changes I could make to improve upon the texture, flavor and consistency of that sauce.  It’s down right amazing.

The Apple Whipped Cream I got from Rachel Ray was also hard to improve upon.  (I did add 1/2 tsp cinnamon, but that is totally an optional step!)

That is the from-scratch recipes if you are willing and able.  And I do recommend it, that flavors are sensational!

The recipe I am going to list below is the semi-homemade version, using a box mix, caramel sauce in the jar and Cool Whip®.  Just because I can’t post this beautiful and delicious cake in the completely from-scratch form doesn’t mean that I can’t provide some sort of recipe for you to use!

First though, the assembly.

Make the cake in two square 9-inch cake pans.  I prepared them by coating with Goop and then lined with parchment.

Allow cakes to cool to room temperature.  Level cakes to the same height.

Prepare caramel sauce and allow to cool to room temperature. (or get caramel sauce our of fridge and heat to lukewarm)

Place one square layer cake on cake stand and cover in approximately 1/2 cup of caramel sauce.  You will want to sauce to be warm enough to move, but not runny. (The consistency can all be controlled through temperature at this point.)  If your caramel sauce is too runny, allow it to cool more before finishing covering this layer of cake, we are trying to avoid a puddle of caramel around the base of the cake.  After you have poured caramel on cake, chill it for about 15 minutes in fridge or 10 minutes in freezer.  You want to ‘set’ the sauce as much as possible.

Once caramel sauce is covering cake and firm, you can prepare it for the next layer.

Prepare apple whipped cream. (or get out your Cool Whip®)

Cut a straw into four equal sections and place in the four corners of the cake.

This step isn’t pretty, but is essential for this cake.  The whipped cream is not sturdy enough to hold the weight of the cake above.

Add about 1 cup of whipped cream to the cake and smooth out.  You will want to whipped cream to be no higher than the height of the straws.

Place next layer of caramel cake on top of whipped cream layer and repeat the step of pouring the caramel icing over the cake.  Use a bit less at first, as you do not want it to drip too much.

Fill a piping bag with the remaining apple whipped cream and pipe out pretty swirls on top. (I prefer this open star tip from Ateco)

Sprinkle with about 1/2 tsp of cinnamon (it’s a small amount, feel free to adjust to fit your tastes).

Drizzle top with a very runny caramel sauce. (Add a bit of milk to room temperature icing and stir until combined.  Put in piping bag and cut off the smallest tip then carefully drizzle.)

Chill until ready to serve.

caramel cake with apple cider whipped cream (semi-homemade version)

Ingredients

  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • One container of caramel sauce (sizes can vary, just make sure you have at least 16 ounces)
  • 1-3 cups confectioners sugar
  • One 32-ounce container of store bought whipped cream
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Apple extract or 1 tablespoon apple cider

Instructions

  1. Prepare yellow cakes according to the directions on the box in 9-inch square cake pans.
  2. Pour caramel sauce (about 16 ounces) into stand mixer. Add one cup of confectioners sugar and whip at medium speed until incorporated. You may add more confectioners sugar if needed; you are looking for a fairly thick consistency, one that is not overly runny.
  3. Place one layer of cake on cake stand and cover in about 1/2 cup of caramel frosting you just made.
  4. Open store bought whipped cream and add in 1 tsp. cinnamon and 1/2 tsp apple extract or up to 1 tablespoon of apple cider.
  5. Place about 1 cup whipped cream on cake and level.
  6. Repeat with next layer of cake and caramel, then pipe mounds of remaining whipped cream.
  7. Chill until ready to serve.
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TIPS: You want to cakes to be as level as possible so nothing goes sliding off with that beautiful caramel.  The caramel will become more runny the warmer it gets.  If you are able to give your cakes a slight concave in the center that would work as well.

The caramel is the trickiest part.  Once you are able to determine the best consistency to work with you will be set!  I found that the best way to practice was to use cupcakes and my guinea pigs.  (plus… yum!  Will share that recipe soon!) If you need this cake for a special event, be sure to practice first!

If you make the cake from scratch, you will have THREE layers of cake (lots of batter, never fill your pan more than 1/2 full).  I don’t recommend making this cake into a three layer (stability is an issue), so freezing the extra layer is a great option.

In the semi-homemade recipe I added powdered (confectioners) sugar to store bought caramel sauce.  I KNOW!  I know.  This is nuts.  But what I was going for in consistency.  The sauce needs to be a little thicker so that it does not simply spill out over everything.  You can skip adding the powdered sugar and just use much LESS caramel sauce so that spilling over is not an issue.

Apple Extract is not easy to find, I had to order some. (Pure Apple Extract from OliveNation).  You can substitute apple cider, but make sure that you start with teaspoons and taste test after each addition.  Be careful to not add too much liquid to the store bought whipped cream as it could become too runny to pipe.

This cake is WORTH the work!  It’s amazing.  Delicious!  Those flavors are genius and wonderful and a must for fall and holiday gatherings.

I styled this cake exactly like my Chocolate Pumpkin Cake and Red Velvet Peppermint Cake.  It’s a show stopper for sure!

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eight-layer dip http://iambaker.net/eight-layer-dip/ http://iambaker.net/eight-layer-dip/#comments Sun, 26 Oct 2014 18:43:32 +0000 http://iambaker.net/?p=45674 Eight-Layer Dip!
I am posting this in the wrong season.  I mean, technically speaking.  Does delicious eight-layer dip ever go out of season?  In this day and age we can get everything we need at the grocery store all year round it seems.  Even organic options! I just happen to have a little party coming up and... 

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Eight-Layer Dip!

I am posting this in the wrong season.  I mean, technically speaking.  Does delicious eight-layer dip ever go out of season?  In this day and age we can get everything we need at the grocery store all year round it seems.  Even organic options!

I just happen to have a little party coming up and this sounded like the perfect appetizer, even if it is closer to winter than summer.  This particular recipe comes from The Pioneer Woman’s A Year of Holiday’s cookbook, which is one of my favorites.

She adds roasted corn to her recipe which is genius.  I LOVE roasted corn and the idea of it added to 7-layer dip makes me  happy.  And bloated because I end up eating 57 million salty tortilla chips when this dip is around.

eight-layer dip

Ingredients

  • 6 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
  • 1/4 cup of cilantro, chopped
  • 2 limes
  • pinch salt
  • 2 avocados, pitted, peeled, and diced
  • One 16-ounce can refried beans
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 cup Cheddar cheese, finely grated
  • 3/4 cup Monterey Jack cheese, finely grated
  • 1 cup black olives
  • 1- 1 1/2 cups roasted corn kernels

Instructions

  1. Add first four ingredients in a medium bowl. Add the juice of 1 lime and pinch of salt.
  2. Stir to combine, set aside. (you have now made pico de gallo)
  3. Add avocado's to a separate bowl and mix in half of the pico de gallo. (this is chunky guacamole)
  4. Spread refried beans on to serving platter in a flat smooth layer.
  5. Add dollops of sour cream on top and carefully spread in an even layer over the refried beans.
  6. Add the chunky guacamole in dollops and then spread in an even layer.
  7. Add the olives and the grated cheese.
  8. Add roasted corn to pico de gallo and combine.
  9. Put pico de gallo on top of cheese layer. Squeeze remaining lime. (Use a much or as little as you would like. If you want to use less, feel free to set extra lime to the side and offer to guests to use at their discretion.)
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Recipe just barely adapted from The Pioneer Woman.

I am still debating on wether or not to serve these on a platter or in individual cups.  I like the idea of the cups, but people still need a plate for the chips right?  So I am not sure the extra efforts is worth it in the end.  If you have experience with this method I would love some insight!

Oh my word do I love this stuff.  I could eat it every single day of my life.  The only difference is that I omit the beans and make a layer of taco seasoned ground beef.  Which I can’t believe I just shared with you because people usually react in horror when I tell them I don’t like refried beans.

Here I go sharing an un-seasonal recipe AND confessing I am practically un-American with my dislike of refried beans. Don’t be made at me ok?  Just make this awesome dip and lets be friends again.

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the better homes and gardens experience (giveaway) http://iambaker.net/the-better-homes-and-gardens-experience/ http://iambaker.net/the-better-homes-and-gardens-experience/#comments Fri, 24 Oct 2014 11:12:58 +0000 http://iambaker.net/?p=45643 Touring BHG
I am thankful to BHG for allowing me this opportunity and helping to sponsor this blog! Sometimes an opportunity comes along that is simply too amazing to pass up.  I had to move mountains to attend the 1st annual (I gave it that ‘annual’ label, but with the overwhelming success of the first event I... 

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Touring BHG

I am thankful to BHG for allowing me this opportunity and helping to sponsor this blog!
Sometimes an opportunity comes along that is simply too amazing to pass up.  I had to move mountains to attend the 1st annual (I gave it that ‘annual’ label, but with the overwhelming success of the first event I can’t think of a single reason why it wouldn’t be happen every year!) Better Homes and Gardens Holiday Cookies Experience.

When you have five kids, a hard working hubby, and very limited family able to come and stay with said five kids, making time to attend lavish functions like this are just not part of my reality.

But it was Better Homes and Gardens.  I mean, da.

The experience started off on Friday evening.  Myself, a few other bloggers and just about 100 BHG fans were treated to an evening of decadent cocktails, perfectly paired appetizers, finger foods as well as adorable desserts.

The whole event was a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach!  The mingling was the stuff you read in the society section.  First I met an executive from the New York offices then a mother and daughter from LA who were fabulous then the Editor in Chief of Better Homes and Gardens, Gayle Butler.

I walked up to her and three other editors at the magazine and nervously said,

“Hi Nancy!  It’s so nice to meet you!”

Then glanced down and realized I had just called Gayle Butler the wrong name.  And I threw up in my mouth a little.  And almost pretended to have a heart attack just because that seemed like it would be less awkward.

But Gayle, perfectly living up to the charming and graceful reputation she has earned, didn’t bat and eye and we had a lovely chat.  She was kind.  She was interested.  She was interesting!

My right eye still twitches uncontrollably when I think about it.

After a very short presentation from all the editors, we mingled some more and headed back to the hotel.  The next day was starting early, and for a very good reason.  It was jam packed full of events and sessions!

This is what Saturday looked like:

7:30 am Holiday Pancake Breakfast 
8:30 am How to Throw the Perfect Open House 
10:00 am Hands-on Test Kitchen Sessions 
11:00 am Never-Fail Holiday Menu with Scott Peacock (includes lunch) 
1:30 pm Magically Delicious Desserts with Gesine Bullock-Prado
3:00 pm Hands-on Test Kitchen Sessions 

4:00 pm Holiday Slow Cookers Reimagined 
5:30 to 7 pm Holiday Happy Hour 
7:30 pm Tastes of the Season Dinner* 

Now, if you are like me you are thinking… that is A LOT going on in one day!

But I have to tell you, it was perfectly done.  The sessions were entertaining and delightful.  The staff at Better Homes and Gardens has a killer sense of humor… we were laughing most of the day!  Quirky and spunky and just plain delightful.  Such a great bunch!  And we were fed fantastic food all. day. long.

Sidenote:  They all have amazing fashion sense too.  No matter the theme, be it dressy or casual, everyone looked adorable and refined and stunning.

One of my favorite parts was when Jan Miller (the magazine’s Executive Food Editor) was up on stage.  Her personality is hilarious and contagious.  I could have watched her and her cohorts all day!

Nancy Hopkins (deputy Food Editor) was also a surprise to me.  Here are these brilliant, accomplished, well traveled and well-connected insightful women, and they were friendly.  Funny.  Personable.  After the weekend, I felt like I could call her my girlfriend!

They put all my preconceived notions about high-powered executive women to shame!

And then Jennifer Darling handed me a Crock Pop.  In true BHG style, it was the grandest of presentations and they came out saying, “YOU GET A CROCK POT AND YOU GET A CROCK POT AND YOU GET A CROCK POT!”  I died.  It was genius and such a treat!

It was an absolute honor to hear Scott Peacock talk about all things egg.  (and other fascinating information of course!) He is one of the most charming and witty people I have ever had the privilege of meeting.  When he gave his presentation I was on the edge of my seat.  I didn’t want it to end!  Thankfully he made an appearance at lunch (which was also his menu, distinctive and enjoyable!) and answered question after question and posed with adoring fan after adoring fan.  #itwasme #fangirl

Since I love desserts it was interesting to learn from the brilliant Gesine Bullock-Prado.  Her knowledge in all things pastry and sweet confections is second to none.  And honestly, she is just darn funny!

My face is all red and puffy because I couldn’t stop drinking wine. It was worth it. 

In the evening, we were treated to a four-course meal with wine pairings.  The food was exquisite.  Heavenly.  The company even better.

The editors and staff at Better Homes and Gardens did it right.  Every detail was perfectly executed and every provision thought out ahead of time.  We, as the attendees, were treated like royalty.  Like our opinions mattered and were appreciated.

Jocelyn of Grandbaby Cakes, Allie from Baking a Moment, Alice from Hip Foodie Mom and

Julianne from Beyond Frosting

While touring the facility we got to see the cover of the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book.  Today I am not only am I sharing a recipe with you, but I am GIVING AWAY one copy!!

But first, the recipe.

I had a hard time narrowing down what I was going to make, so I didn’t.  I made five recipes the first week I was home after the event!  But this one was so beautiful I had to share.

fettuccine alfredo

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces dried fettuccine
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Grated or finely shredded Parmesan cheese (optional)

Instructions

  1. Cook fettuccine according to package directions.
  2. In a large saucepan melt butter then add cream, salt and pepper.
  3. Bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat and boil gently for 3 to 5 minutes or until mixture begins to thicken.
  5. Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese.
  6. Drain pasta.
  7. Add pasta to hot sauce.
  8. Toss to combine.
  9. Transfer to warm serving dish. Serve immediately. If desired, sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese, Makes 4 servings.
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Recipe shared from Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book with permission.

This beautiful recipe was so easy and so delicious, next time I may need to double it just to keep my family happy!

And now, for that giveaway!

Simply tell me, “What is your favorite thing about Better Homes and Gardens?”  Click on the box right below this to get entered.  (please be patient, it may take a moment to load)

OFFICIAL RULES HERE

This giveaway is open to residents of the United States and Canada.

Check out my friend Jocelyn’s perspective of the BHG event as well!

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Puppy Chow surprise-inside cake http://iambaker.net/puppy-chow-surprise-inside-cake/ http://iambaker.net/puppy-chow-surprise-inside-cake/#comments Thu, 23 Oct 2014 12:29:25 +0000 http://iambaker.net/?p=45630 Puppy Chow Surprise Inside Cake HOW TO
I love this cake. Every little thing about it.  From the amazing chocolate flavor to the chocolate sprinkles to the glorious surprise waiting inside. Delicious. Beautiful. (in my opinion!) and Easy. Let’s get to it! After assembling the layers of this cake I covered it in a thin coat of buttercream.  I used about 1... 

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Puppy Chow Surprise Inside Cake HOW TO

I love this cake.

Every little thing about it.  From the amazing chocolate flavor to the chocolate sprinkles to the glorious surprise waiting inside.

Delicious. Beautiful. (in my opinion!) and Easy.

Let’s get to it!

After assembling the layers of this cake I covered it in a thin coat of buttercream.  I used about 1 cup of chocolate sprinkles and gently pressed them into the cake.

After the cake was covered I used a fondant smoother to press them in further and to get the clean, sharp lines you see here.  Although I lightened it a bit (we are already losing light so quickly here in Minnesota!) this picture is basically straight out of my camera.

But lets take a step back.  Just how did I assemble it?

I started with three 6-inch chocolate cakes.  After chilling them, I used a 3-inch round cookie cutter and cut out the center of one of the cakes.

I then placed a thin layer of chocolate buttercream around the edge of the cake with the center cut out.

Next, I placed the cake with the center cut out on top of one of the other layers, frosting side down.  We want the frosting to act as a glue.

I filled the cake with that fabulous Pumpkin Spice Puppy Chow.

Added another thin layer of chocolate buttercream around the edge.

Finally placed the last layer on top.

I chilled my cake at this point, as I find it easier to cover in frosting when the cake is stable and firm.

Cover with thin layer of chocolate buttercream and then sprinkles. (as directed above)

And now we are back to here.

Ready to see the surprise?

So fun right?

And totally delicious.  Pumpkin. Chocolate.  More chocolate.  Crunchy Chex® cereal bits.  It’s stinkin awesome!!!

For a cake.  I mean, it’s not world peace or anything. #da

Here is the nitty gritty:

Prepare a batch of Pumpkin Spice Puppy Chow. (Give yourself a few hours for it to cool and harden.)

Prepare a chocolate cake (you can use box mix or this wonderful Chocolate Cake recipe) in three 6-inch round cake pans.
Remove cakes from pans and chill until they are very firm.

Prepare chocolate buttercream.

Follow directions above for assembly.

Chill cake until ready to serve.

And there you have it!  How to prepare a Chocolate Buttercream Sprinkle Covered Pumpkin Spice Puppy Chow Surprise-Inside Cake!

Say that three times fast.

If you like this cake be sure to check out my new book, Surprise-Inside Cakes!

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candy corn cupcakes http://iambaker.net/candy-corn-cupcakes/ http://iambaker.net/candy-corn-cupcakes/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 12:15:19 +0000 http://iambaker.net/?p=45601 Candy Corn Inspired Cupcakes with pure Candy Corn Glaze!
This post is sponsored by McCormicks. What’s for dessert?  Cupcakes.  Glorious dual-toned, frosting piled high, covered in an obscene sweet glaze decadent cupcakes. Imagine if you are in grade school, and have been sitting in class all morning.  The tick-tock of the clock is constant, and you are full of energy, waiting so impatiently for... 

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Candy Corn Inspired Cupcakes with pure Candy Corn Glaze!

This post is sponsored by McCormicks.

What’s for dessert?  Cupcakes.  Glorious dual-toned, frosting piled high, covered in an obscene sweet glaze decadent cupcakes.

Imagine if you are in grade school, and have been sitting in class all morning.  The tick-tock of the clock is constant, and you are full of energy, waiting so impatiently for the lunch bell to ring.

Consonants and pronouns and quizzes and tests are just another thing keeping you from a cold milk, peanut butter & jelly and being able to talk with your friends about whatever you want.

Finally!  Lunch time.

Opening your lunch box yields the greatest surprise of all time… a CUPCAKE!  And not just any cupcake, a cupcake covered in more frosting than you have ever seen!  On top of that frosting is a sweet sticky orange glaze.  Without hesitation you stick your finger into it, as knowing what it tastes like suddenly becomes the most important thing in the world.

The first taste is utterly sweet… and confusing.  What is it?  Familiar, but hard to place.  You pull the entire cupcake out of your lunch box and see all the glorious color.  Candy Corn!  That glaze tastes just like candy corn!

Everyone is oohing and aahing.  They all want some, but it’s all yours.

You sit back, revel in being the coolest kid at the lunch table and think to yourself, “I am totally going to clean my room when I get home. My mom rocks.”

candy corn cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 1 package (2-layer size) white cake mix
  • 2 teaspoons McCormick® Pure Vanilla Extract
  • Yellow & Red McCormick® Food Coloring
  • Candy Corn Glaze
  • 1 bag candy corn, 11 ounce size
  • 1/4 cup water

Instructions

  1. Prepare cake mix as directed on package, adding vanilla.
  2. Divide batter in half.
  3. Tint one batch yellow with 1/3 teaspoon yellow food color. Tint second batch orange with 1/4 teaspoon yellow food color and 1/8 teaspoon red food color.
  4. Fill each paper-lined muffin cup 1/3 full with orange batter. Gently add yellow batter on top of orange batter, filling each muffin cup 2/3 full. Bake as directed on package for cupcakes. Cool cupcakes on wire rack.
  5. Candy Corn Glaze
  6. Reserve 1/4 cup of candy corn then place the remainder of the 11-ounce bag in a medium saucepan. Pour in 1/4 cup water and heat on low for about 10-15 minutes. You will want to candy corn to be melted completely.
  7. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. You will want to cover cupcakes while glaze is still warm, but not hot.
  8. Using a spoon, drizzle glaze over frosting.
  9. Decorate tops of cupcake extra candy corn pieces. (not shown in picture)
  10. Can be done 1-2 days in advance.
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Recipe shared with permission from McCormick.

At least, that is what I envision would happen.  More likely than not, the cupcake would get schmooshed on the way to school and frosting would be all over the lunchbox, the sandwich, the milk, the apple.  My precious little darling would have her lunchbox held up to her face unabashedly licking every last bit of frosting from every last surface.  She would then have frosting in her hair, on her eyelashes, all over her face and hands.

Maybe this is better suited as an after school snack!

A couple things:

The first time I made this glaze (candy corn schootcharoo bars) I played around with it quite a bit.  I think it works best at a lukewarm temperature for drizzling over cupcakes.  The cooler it gets the more firm it gets and therefor harder to drizzle.  Once you are done covering the cupcakes I would place an remaining glaze in an air tight storage container and clean out the pan.

I did my candy corn cupcakes in opposite color order.  This was entirely for vanity purposes!  I just liked how it looks with the orange on top and bottom and the yellow breaking it up a bit.  The recipe is written how I did it, but if you want a traditional candy corn cupcake, be sure to put the yellow batter on the bottom.

While this recipe is written to use a box mix, you can most certainly use your favorite white cake or yellow cake recipe.

I love this buttercream recipe for bright white frosting.

If you want to use a bit less frosting I think this style of cupcake decorating would be lovely and would allow the glaze to pool just beautifully on the cupcake. (and would be more lunch box friendly!)

These sweet little treats are definitely perfect for the occasional seasonal indulgence.  The bright colors and billowing frosting take ‘eating with your eyes’ to a whole new level!  And of course, are the ideal treat for anyone who loves candy corn!

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criticism and community http://iambaker.net/criticism-and-community/ http://iambaker.net/criticism-and-community/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 12:19:49 +0000 http://iambaker.net/?p=45563 Grateful Joy
I was lolly gaging along on Pinterest and this popped up on my screen. see more from Ann Voskamp Talk about convicting. I am so guilty of jumping to criticism.  So guilty of letting a small hurt or an unintentional rejection lead me to a path of character destruction. And when I say lead me,... 

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Grateful Joy

I was lolly gaging along on Pinterest and this popped up on my screen.

see more from Ann Voskamp

Talk about convicting.

I am so guilty of jumping to criticism.  So guilty of letting a small hurt or an unintentional rejection lead me to a path of character destruction.

And when I say lead me, I fully mean that I lead myself, allow myself, to go to a place of criticism of others just to pacify my hurt feelings.

Most recently the discomfort stemmed from social events that I was not included in.

I can’t help but think:

I thought we were friends?  Is it my hair?  The car I drive?  My inability to keep silent for longer than 7 seconds?  My faith?

Do you know what I am doing? Rationalizing my perceived ‘rejection’.

It has to be “something wrong with me”.

When people are getting together they are not ‘rejecting’ me, they are simply living their lives in the best way they know how.  Quite frankly, it just has nothing to do with me.  (And honestly, if my exclusion is intentional, then isn’t it for the best that I am not there?)

I am just not comfortable judging others motives right now.  It’s far too easy to look at someone and think they they have it all, that they have everything I want in my life, that the grass is greener where they are.

I am only seeing their highlight reel.

I think it’s safe to say that coffee dates and parties exist to strengthen the existing relationships these folks have, and if so, I am ALL about that!  We should be doing all we can to strengthen the bonds that already exist.

The idea of girlfriends (new and old) creating time to get together to discuss commonalities and support each other and to have fellowship is exactly the type of behavior we need more of.  That is what community is.

Here is where I have had enlightenment of late: While these things are the exact definition of exclusive, that is what they should be.

Where do I grow the most?  In a crowded room of 1000 acquaintances or in a small setting where individual voices are heard?  In the smaller group of course. (There is a time and place for large groups, it just depends on what you are seeking to learn.)

We all have friends and bonds that create a feel of exclusivity among others.  Just because a group of friends gets together does not mean it is at the expense of others, no matter how it feels.<— I need to remember that!

When I LOOK for ways to feel bad about others choices, I find them.

When I LOOK for ways to see contentment in others choices, well, I will find it.

When I am thankful and grateful for the life I am living (not stuck in a place of jealously and envy) that is when I find myself understanding why people do what they do. Accepting. Understanding. Feeling content.

Feeling true contentment in my life has awakened a new love in me.  I am finding it easier (every single day as I am always trying to grow!) to accept people for who they are right where they are.

When I am focusing on loving the life I have, THAT is when opportunities find a way of presenting themselves. The RIGHT opportunities.  Some of these social get togethers are not right for me right now. God knows exactly where I need to be and where my focus needs to be.  (On HIS will, not my own!)

I choose to feel grateful that I have a family that needs me and allows me to grow with love.

I choose to feel joy for others when they get to experience relationships in a new and more cherished way.

I choose to be kind to others not because I want something in return, but because that is what enriches my soul.

Next time a situation comes up that I start to feel that twinge of jealousy or resentment over what others are doing I hope I am still in a place of acceptance.

Next time I irrationally jump to critical conclusions about others choices I hope one of my friends smacks me upside the head and reminds me to take note of my blessings.

But just in case I fall prey to the gossip and criticism that so quickly invade my brain, here is a great list of things that happy people do.

Tribute to Stephen Covey

Because I believe that living a good life is a choice and not a reflection of our circumstances, I know that I need to be intentional with my thoughts and actions.  This is my daily prayer… for me and you!

Please let me know how I can more specifically be in prayer for you.

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vanilla cinnamon chocolate ombre pancakes http://iambaker.net/vanilla-cinnamon-chocolate-ombre-pancakes/ http://iambaker.net/vanilla-cinnamon-chocolate-ombre-pancakes/#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 12:07:02 +0000 http://iambaker.net/?p=45554 Vanilla Cinnamon Chocolate Ombre Pancakes
One of my favorite cakes in my book is the Ombre Cake.  The main reason I love it is because it screams masculine to me, and that is not always easy with a buttercream flower petal covered cake!  I happened to catch a quick glance at it the other day (it’s on my sidebar of... 

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Vanilla Cinnamon Chocolate Ombre Pancakes

One of my favorite cakes in my book is the Ombre Cake.  The main reason I love it is because it screams masculine to me, and that is not always easy with a buttercream flower petal covered cake!  I happened to catch a quick glance at it the other day (it’s on my sidebar of the landing page of the blog) and decided… that needs to be pancakes.

The flavors are a bit different than my original ombre cake, and this is not covered in gobs of frosting, but in my defense it is for breakfast.  I hope you will let my inconsistencies fly!

This was a great opportunity to have my little kids (Audrey and Eddie) in the kitchen helping.  They did great and learned about the difference between cake batter and pancake batter.  Because apparently I make a lot of cakes and this is what they are usually helping with.

My husband and I decided that now is as good of time as any to really start our small kids on consistent chores and “life duties.”  It comes from Proverbs 22:6, “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.“.  (NIV) If I want the kids to be knowledgeable and helpful in the kitchen, I really need to model those behaviors.  (Well, the helpful anyway.  I am still working on the ‘knowledgeable’ part!) So instead of my whizzing through meals just to get them done, I am going to slow down and include them in the process.  

 

Note: This is a large recipe and makes at least 36 good sized pancakes.

vanilla cinnamon chocolate ombre pancakes

Ingredients

    Base Batter
  • 6 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 3 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • Vanilla Pancakes
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Cinnamon Pancakes
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Chocolate Pancakes
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Prepare the 'base batter'.
  2. In a large bowl stir together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
  3. In another bowl use a fork to combine eggs, milk and oil.
  4. Add egg mixture to flour mixture and stir until just moistened.
  5. Separate mixture into three bowls.
  6. Vanilla Pancake
  7. Add in vanilla and stir until just combined.
  8. Cinnamon Pancakes
  9. Add cinnamon and vanilla to base batter and stir until just combined.
  10. Chocolate Pancakes
  11. Add cocoa, vanilla, 1 tbsp sugar and mini chocolate chips to base batter. Stir until just combined.
  12. Turn oven on to warm and line a cookie sheet with parchment to set completed pancakes on.
  13. Starting with the vanilla batter, prepare pancakes using about 1/4 cup of batter per pancake. You should place batter onto a hot (about 300-325 degree) griddle. (baking spray works well if you need to grease the griddle)
  14. When pancakes are done place them on parchment lined cookie sheet and into the oven to warm while completing other batters.
  15. To serve place chocolate chip pancake on plate, then cinnamon, then vanilla. Top with butter and maple syrup and enjoy!
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The kids were skeptical on eating these all together, but I insisted.  Turns out they loved it and demolished the entire recipe. My oldest, Colton, made a point of telling me that I needed to blog these and that I needed to tell everyone that he LOVED them.

While it does take a couple more minutes to prepare, it is definitely worth it!  The flavor combination is fabulous and tastes like a really decadent treat for breakfast!

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october things, and joy http://iambaker.net/october-things-and-joy/ http://iambaker.net/october-things-and-joy/#comments Sat, 18 Oct 2014 15:41:48 +0000 http://iambaker.net/?p=45534 October Fields
I have a thing for sunrises.  There is something entirely magical and majestic about a kaleidoscope sky growing in intensity and whose light is ablaze against the dark tree skyline. With the water being balmy compared to the air in these cooler fall days, there is an etherial fog that lingers until the sun starts warming.... 

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October Fields

I have a thing for sunrises.  There is something entirely magical and majestic about a kaleidoscope sky growing in intensity and whose light is ablaze against the dark tree skyline.

With the water being balmy compared to the air in these cooler fall days, there is an etherial fog that lingers until the sun starts warming.

Sunrises.  Pink streaked skies. Enveloping morning mists.

There is something to be said about nature and my relationship to God.  It is humbling to see the stunning beauty that is (seemingly) effortlessly created day after day, all to the delight and enchantment of this grateful servant.

As the day progresses and the demand of little people and tasks forces my focus away from Him, I am so thankful for the reminders.

The afternoon sky glowing bright with cyan hues reflecting perfectly against the leafy pond.

Autumn.  One of the things that keeps my heart endeared here, in Minnesota.  I get lost in the colors, the Grand Design.

Indebted to a hard working husband and a generous Savior, I have never known peace and contentment like I do here, on our land and home.

So many things have changed for me in the last 30 days, and all of them being significant life changes.  Those changes that shift a perspective or a alter a view of the way I am.

I have never felt such joy and peace in growth. Life is beautiful, even if it isn’t.

Some of it comes from a desire to change, but most of it comes from a God eager to help me follow His will.

The little things, the small business that keeps a day flowing, they bring contentment.  My puppy Dodger (an actual puppy no more, but his small size allows the description to fly) enjoying the sun in the middle of a dying forest.  He feels it too, I know.  The joy.

With dinner done and kids starting their nighttime routine, the sun makes her way below the tree tops.

That last few minutes of her descent, where every last ray is reaching into the shadows, that is my favorite.

It’s a forgiveness for every falter.  It’s a reminder to seek her out in the morning.

I just have to say, thank you.  Thank you for new friends.  Thank you for one of the most beautiful autumn transitions I can remember in years.  Thank you for loving teachers and mailmen and pastors.  Thank you for family who didn’t choose me, but makes the best of it.  Thank you to my patient and accepting and exceptional  husband.

Thank you for the grace of a Heavenly Father.

Praying (it is my greatest wish) that you too feel the love and joy and peace that only He can give.

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