February 14, 2015

First Friday!

Here we are again, the beginning of another tax season!  Hal's First Friday request was a long time favorite Matzo Crunch, or as we lovingly call it, Matzo Crack.  This confection is deadly good and you will find yourself eating way more of it than you should!  You've been warned!

There are many variations of this recipe on the web but I use a basic four-ingredient recipe.

Matzo sheets
Brown sugar
Chocolate chips
In honor of Valentine's Day, I added sprinkles.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Line a large baking sheet with foil.  On top of the foil, put a layer of baking parchment paper.  Do not skip either step or you will have a hot sticky mess on your hands later.  Both foil and parchment are essential!

Place a single layer of matzo sheets on top of the parchment, breaking matzo as needed to fill the sheet as completely as possible.

In a saucepan, heat equal parts butter and sugar.  I used one cup each for 6 matzo sheets.  Bring to boil, stirring constantly.  Boil for three minutes.  Remove from heat and pour over matzo, using a knife to spread evenly. Reduce oven to 325 degrees.  Bake matzo caramel mixture for 15 minutes until brown and bubbly.  The caramel mixture will thicken.  Watch carefully to make sure it doesn't burn.

Remove from oven and sprinkle the top liberally with chocolate chips.  I used semi-sweet chips but you can use any type you like.  Let sit for 5 minutes to soften the chips, then spread the chocolate in a even layer over caramel.  Let cool.  Place in the freezer for a few minutes to set,   Once it is hardened, remove foil from pan.  Peel off foil, then peel off parchment paper.  Break into pieces and enjoy!

April 13, 2013


For the last Friday of tax season, I made an over-the-top cheesecake from one of favorite websites Willow Bird Baking.

German Chocolate Cheesecake

Crust Ingredients: 1 package (about 38) chocolate sandwich cookies, finely processed into crumbs (cream and all – it’ll disappear when you crush them up!)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Small pinch of salt

Ganache Ingredients:
3/8 cups heavy cream
5 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped (I used half semisweet and half Ghirardelli 60% Cacao chocolate chips)

Cheesecake Ingredients:
3 packages (8 ounces each) of cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract
3 eggs, room temperature
3 ounces or about 6 tablespoons chocolate chips, melted and cooled (I used half semisweet and half Ghirardelli 60% Cacao)

Cake Ingredients:
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/8 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/8 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
3/8 cup low-fat buttermilk
1/8 cup plus 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3/8 cups warm water
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Filling Ingredients:
 2/3 cup heavy cream
2/3 cup sugar
2 large egg yolks
2 ounces butter, cut into small pieces
1/3 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup pecans, toasted and finely chopped
1 cup unsweetened coconut, toasted
Dash of cinnamon

Make the cheesecake crust: Combine the chocolate cookie crumbs, melted butter and salt in a small bowl. Toss with a fork to moisten all of the crumbs. Press into a thin layer covering the bottom and sides of the springform pan (at least 3 inches up the sides). It’s hard to get the crust up that high, but keep pressing the crumbs up from the bottom with a smooth-sided glass (twisting the glass as you do so, so the crumbs don’t stick) and working them around — you’ll want it that high to hold the cake layer. Patience helps with this step.

Make the ganache: Bring the cream to a simmer in a medium saucepan (or heat in the microwave for about a minute, watching to ensure it doesn’t boil). Place the chocolate in a medium bowl. Once the cream reaches a simmer, pour the cream over the chocolate and let stand 1-2 minutes. Whisk in small circles until a smooth ganache has formed. Pour the ganache over the bottom of the crust. Freeze until the ganache layer is firm, about 30 minutes.

Make the cake: While the ganache is freezing, cut a circle of parchment paper or wax paper and use cooking spray as “glue” to adhere it to a 9-inch round cake pan. Then grease the pan and the paper. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Whisk the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and coarse salt together in a mixing bowl. Beat the dry ingredients on low until combined before increasing the speed to medium and adding the egg, buttermilk, warm water, oil, and vanilla. Beat about 3 minutes until the mixture is smooth. Pour it into the pan.

Place the pan in the oven and bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with just a few moist crumbs, about 25-30 minutes. Rotate the pan about halfway through so it’ll bake evenly. When you take the cake layer out, leave the oven preheated for the cheesecake. Let the cake layer cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes before turning it out onto a sheet of wax paper and leaving it to cool completely. Wrap the cake layer and stick it in the freezer to firm it up for assembly.

Make the cheesecake: While the cake layer is baking, mix cream cheese and sugar in a large bowl until well blended and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing between each, and continue mixing until combined. Add the chocolate and continue mixing until combined. Pour mixture into prepared crust and smooth the top with a spatula.

Bake for 55 minutes or until center of cake is almost set. The top may crack, but it doesn’t particularly matter, since you’ll be covering it anyway. Let the cheesecake fully cool. When almost cool, place it in refrigerator to chill while you prepare the filling.

Make the filling: Place the butter, salt, toasted coconut, and toasted pecans in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan, heat the cream, sugar, and egg yolks over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thickened, coats the spoon, and reads 170 degrees F on a candy thermometer. Pour this mixture over the coconut mixture and stir until the butter melts. Let the mixture cool completely (I set mine in the fridge once it was almost cool to thicken it some more.)

Assemble the cake: Place half of the filling on top of the chilled cheesecake and spread it out. Carefully place the chocolate cake layer on top. Spread the rest of the filling on top of the chocolate cake layer. Decorate with pecans. Chill for 3 hours or overnight. When completely chilled, loosen the cake from rim of springform pan by wrapping the pan in warm dishtowels. Remove the springform pan and serve.

I'm a Little Behind on My Postings...

...I need to post both last week's and this weeks recipes!

Last weeks recipe was from Lulu The Baker and is a rich bar cookie called

32 caramel squares, unwrapped
1/2 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

Combine caramels and cream in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir until completely smooth; set aside. In a separate bowl, combine melted butter, brown sugar, flour, oats, and baking soda. Pat half of the oatmeal mixture into the bottom of an 8x8" pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Remove pan from oven and sprinkle chocolate chips over crust. Pour caramel mixture over chocolate chips. Crumble remaining oatmeal mixture over caramel. Return to oven and bake an additional 15-20 minutes, until the edges are lightly browned. Remove from oven and cool completely before cutting.
*A stint in the fridge will help them cool off if you're pinched for time. They shouldn't be served cold, but all of that molten caramel takes a long time to cool down. They should be stored and served at room temperature.
**If you want to use homemade or store-bought caramel sauce in place of the caramel/cream mixture, use 1 1/4 cups of sauce.
***I doubled the amount to make a 9x13" version.

March 29, 2013

Sour Cream Cake with Saffron Orange Glaze

Todays cake comes from the McCormick Shilling website.  They have a new "gourmet" collection with a batch of recipes to go with it.  The glaze on this cake is more like  a syrup and is made with Saffron.  I doubled it and baked it i a 9 x 13 bakin gpan.

Sour Cream Cake with Saffron Orange Glaze


1 3/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons McCormick® Gourmet Collection Cream of Tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
1 1/3 cups sugar, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons McCormick® Pure Vanilla Extract
2 eggs
1 container (8 ounces) sour cream
3/4 cup orange juice
1/4 teaspoon McCormick® Gourmet Collection Saffron, Spanish


1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease 9-inch round baking pan. Line bottom with wax paper circle; lightly grease wax paper.

2. Mix flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt in medium bowl. Set aside. Beat butter, 1 cup of the sugar and vanilla in large bowl with electric mixer on high speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs and sour cream; beat on low speed until well blended. Gradually add flour mixture, beating on low speed until well mixed. Spread evenly in prepared pan.

3. Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until cake pulls away from sides of pan and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes on wire rack. While cake is cooling in pan, mix orange juice, remaining 1/3 cup sugar and saffron in small saucepan. Bring to boil on medium heat, stirring constantly to dissolve sugar. Cover to keep warm.

4. Loosen cake from sides of pan with small knife or metal spatula. Invert cake onto serving plate. Pierce holes in hot cake with metal or wooden skewer. Spoon warm syrup evenly over hot cake. Let stand until cake has cooled and syrup has been absorbed. Garnish as desired.

Buttermilk-Blueberry Breakfast Cake

I forgot to post last weeks recipe so here it is!  I found this recipe on Pinterest which lead me to Alexandra's Kitchen.  It was a big hit!  I doubled the recipe and baked in a 9 x 13 baking pan.


Serves 6-8

½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tsp. lemon zest or more — zest from 1 large lemon
7/8 cup* + 1 tablespoon sugar**
1 egg, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour (set aside 1/4 cup of this to toss with the blueberries)
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 cups fresh blueberries
½ cup buttermilk***
* 7/8 cup = 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons

** This 1 tablespoon is for sprinkling on top
*** To make homemade buttermilk, place 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice in a liquid measuring cup. Fill cup with milk until it reaches the 1-cup line. Let stand for five minutes. Use only 1/2 cup of the prepared mixture for the recipe.

1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Cream butter with lemon zest and 7/8 cup of the sugar until light and fluffy.

2. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined. Meanwhile, toss the blueberries with ¼ cup of flour, then whisk together the remaining flour, baking powder and salt.
3. Add the flour mixture to the batter a little at a time, alternating with the buttermilk. Fold in the blueberries.

4. Grease a 9-inch square baking pan (or something similar) with butter or coat with non-stick spray. Spread batter into pan. Sprinkle batter with remaining tablespoon of sugar. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes. Check with a toothpick for doneness. If necessary, return pan to oven for a couple of more minutes. (Note: Baking for as long as 10 minutes more might be necessary.) Let cool at least 15 minutes before serving.

March 08, 2013

Sometimes You Feel Like a Nut...

Today's offering is from Epicurious.com.
 What's to say except, Yum!

Almond Joy Cheesecake

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut, toasted
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted (about 2 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

  • 4 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut, toasted
  • 1 tablespoon coconut extract
  • 1 cup sliced almonds, toasted

  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup whipping cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For crust: Preheat oven to 350°F. Wrap outside of 9-inch-diameter springform pan with 2 3/4-inch-high sides with foil.  If you use a 10-inch-diameter pan you do not need the foil. 
Finely grind cracker crumbs, coconut, almonds and sugar in processor. Add butter; process until moist crumbs form. Press mixture onto bottom and 1 inch up sides of pan. Bake crust until set and beginning to brown, about 12 minutes. Cool. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F.
For filling: Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl until smooth. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition. Mix in coconut and extract . Fold in almonds. Transfer filling to crust. Bake until cake is puffed and no longer moves when pan is shaken, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Cool completely on rack.
For glaze: Combine 1 cup chocolate chips, cream and vanilla in small saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat until smooth. Cool until glaze begins to thicken but can still be poured, about 30 minutes. Pour glaze over cooled cake; spread evenly. Chill cake overnight.
Run small knife around sides of cake to loosen. Release pan sides.

March 01, 2013

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cake with Nutella Buttercream

Today's cake is a recipe from Babble.com.  It has kind of an unusual mix of ingredients.  Olive oil, instant pudding mix and sour cream.  The batter is glossy and gorgeous and it makes a dense chocolaty cake.  And you just can't go wrong with Nutella in your butter cream! 

Here's the recipe:

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Bundt

4 eggs
1 1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. olive oil
1 package instant chocolate pudding
1 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. baking powder
2/3 c. cocoa powder
1 1/2 c. flour
1 c. sour cream
½ c. water
1 c. mini chocolate chips

In a large bowl, beat together eggs, brown sugar, and olive oil, and instant pudding mix, creaming until very well mixed. Add salt, baking powder, cocoa powder, and flour. Beat just until incorporated. Add sour cream and water, and beat again just until incorporated. Fold in mini chocolate chips, then scoop batter into a bundt pan which has been generously greased and floured (use cocoa powder, instead of flour, for a nice chocolaty finish to the outside of your cake). Bake in an oven preheated to 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes, or just until the center part of the cake ring springs back to the touch. Watch your cake closely! You don’t want to overcook it! Once cooked, wait for the cake to cool to the touch before turning it out onto a cooling rack. Allow to cool, then cover tightly in plastic wrap and store in the fridge overnight before frosting.

Nutella Butter Cream

½ c. Nutella
12 Tbsp. butter, slightly softened
3 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1-2 T. milk

In a large bowl, beat together Nutella and butter until smooth and fluffy. Slowly add powdered sugar, beating well to incorporate. Add as much milk as needed to make frosting fluffy, but soft enough to spread. Spread on cooled Chocolate Chocolate Chip bundt cake.