Saturday, March 27, 2010

Easier Than Math Chocolate Cake

Recently, someone told me my recipes are too complicated and asked if I could post something simple. My first reaction was, "Really...? Complicated...? You've got to be kidding." But then, I thought it over for a moment. I have never in my life been able to do math–something that is simple for a lot of people, like my kids. And it's a good thing my kids understand math because they aren't getting any help from Dad.

So, here it is–an incredibly simple chocolate cake recipe that is not only good but ready to eat in just 30 minutes.This is helpful for FHE treats, a potluck event, or if you just need a quick chocolate fix. It doesn't need frosting, and it's best eaten warm.

If you've read through many of my posts, you might be thinking everyday is a birthday at the office. There are certainly times it feels that way, but I am more than happy to bring treats. However, an easy recipe like this comes in handy when life gets hectic, and there's something scheduled every night of the week (last night it was Liam's soccer game in the bitter cold wind). So this morning, I whipped up the batter and popped the cake in the oven in just a few minutes. By the time I finished showering and was dressed for work, it was done. I let it cool over breakfast, and then I was out the door with cake in hand.

It really is that easy, so give it a try.

Happy birthday, Danielle! I thought it would
look better if I cut the cake into squares and
piled them on a plate. Looking at the photo,
it appears rather messy. But, it's a tasty mess.

And, look how simple and easy it is to dress it up.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Death Cupcake for Cutie or Chocolate Stimulus

If you're into baking, following baking blogs, or visiting bake shops, you know that cupcakes have been the rage for a while. About a year ago, I decided to try and create the ultimate cupcake. To do this, I combined the best from about four recipes into one, and the result was fantastic.

I needed a name, however. Katie immediately came up with Death Cupcake for Cutie. This is a combination of the "death by chocolate" idea and the name of a popular indie band, Death Cab for Cutie. I thought it was a great name, but later that day at work, Katie called me with the name Chocolate Stimulus. At the time, we were all tired of hearing about the economic stimulus ad nauseum. I liked this name equally as well because in my opinion most problems can be solved with chocolate. Who couldn't use a little chocolate stimulus? So, there you have it. Go with whichever name works for you.

But, I must warn you. These cupcakes are for adults. If you're going to put this kind of time and care into creating cupcakes, don't waste them on children who would be just as happy with something from a box. These cupcakes are so rich and chocolately, a child might go into chocolate shock.

The reason I made a batch of these cupcakes this morning is because it's parent/teacher conference time. The PTA arranges for parents to bring in dinner and dessert for the teachers. Not only do the teachers at our school deserve the best, but Liam has a little ground to make up with his math teacher. I guess she got a little ticked when he showed up on St. Patrick's Day with green hair. I guess there's a rule against that. Ooops. Well, a little chocolate stimulus will make everything right.

I piled the frosting a generous inch high.
Can you ever have too much frosting?
I think not. Katie said she'd eat it on 
dog food.

How could a teacher resist? (the cupcakes
and the boys)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Ooey Gooey Kaplooey

Yes, I know it sounds weird, but that's what we call them. I don't remember who in the family came up with the name, but it's our brownie version of those molten chocolate cakes* that seem to be the rage lately.

When they come out of the oven, they look like your average brownies. However, beneath the crispy thin top crust lies a layer of chocolate ooey gooey goodness. They are best served warm, but I must sternly warn you. They are so chocolaty rich that if you eat too much too quickly, you might explode–hence, kaplooey. To prevent a chocolate overdose, I suggest serving the brownies with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or tall glass of milk.

Liam, my 12 year-old, has been begging me to make these brownies for weeks. Since he had a tooth pulled today in preparation for braces, I thought he deserved them.

And I'm embarrassed to admit, the pan is empty.

Please ignore the creepy plastic clown. Certainly family 
members who shall remain nameless like to tease me about
my blogging obsession. They thought the clown would be
a nice touch. Just focus on the gooey chocolate. Mmmmm!

*I have a very simple recipe for molten lava cakes. I'll see about whipping some up in the near future and posting the recipe.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Cream Cheese Brownies

Guess what? I finally got the fancy schmancy camera of my dreams. I can now take amazing photos of my culinary creations that will make you want to lick your computer screen. Well, that is until I first learn how to use the camera. I've read the manual, watched the accompanying DVD, and browsed through countless Web sites about photography. I think it's going to take me a bit longer than I expected before I start producing photos I'm satisfied with.

So, I wanted to bake something and try out the camera. We invited some friends over for dessert, and I had my opportunity. I decided to make Cream Cheese Brownies, a new family favorite. 

After the brownies cooled, I cut them, and put some on a plate. I took a bunch of photos and downloaded them onto the computer. I was not very happy with the results. Each photo had something wrong. Some had bad lighting, some were blurry, and some were at an odd angle. 

As I murmured to myself  at the computer, Liam came and looked over my shoulder and said, "Dad, I like your photos. The food looks real." 

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"Well in magazines and cook books. The food is perfect and you know they use weird ways to make it look that way."

My twelve year-old son who has an unnatural gift of remembering odd facts then spouted off a list of the tricks of the trade, most of which were certainly new to me.

Did you know that...
  1. Blowtorches and brown shoe polish are used to brown meat and create grill marks.
  2. Cotton balls soaked in water and then heated in a microwave are used to create steam coming from food.
  3. Lipstick is used to make strawberries look perfectly ripe.
  4. There's a good chance the ice cream is actually mashed potatoes, and the chocolate syrup on top might be motor oil.
  5. White glue is used instead of milk for cereal.
Well, I'll be! Liam certainly has a knack for knowing how to lift those around him, and I certainly felt better about my photos. So, here it is. I promise you each and every out of focus crumb is real, and tastes yummy!

I feel a Snarf-fest coming on!