Today is my girls 11th birthday. Time has moved her so quickly from this little peanut
to a lovely pre-teen. Shhh...don't tell her she's not actually a teenager yet. She really wants to be. :)
It's hard to believe a whole year has passed since we celebrated her 10th birthday with a Monkey Party. I had just started this blog and to this day this is still one of my most viewed posts. I think it is because of this:
The Monkey Cake I made. This is a popular search apparently. It is Martha Stewart's famous monkey cake, and is one of my favorite cakes I've made. I'm all about a themed party. I'm so glad the girl still lets me have them for her. For instance we had so much fun making these party favors to match.
That was a fun birthday.
And you can read more about it here, including directions on how to make the monkey cake and the monkey favor cups: Martha Stewart and Monkey Cakes
This year will be no exception. We have another themed birthday party in the works. Of course this one was a little more difficult to pull off and stretched my creativity. It's always a hard thing when you are challenged to combine aliens, monsters and robots. For a girls birthday party. And are told they must be cute aliens, monsters and robots. I will be sharing our party plans in an upcoming post. It will be an "out of this world" post! grin!
Speaking of birthdays. We have another birthday of sorts coming up. It's the birth of an exciting new venture between my sister, Vanessa at Southern In My Heart, and myself.
We decided to take the saying "two heads are better than one" seriously around here! There has been a lot of behind the scenes activity as we work to launch our new project. We hope you'll agree with us when we unveil our latest blogging endeavour. I'll give you a sneak peek...
We desire to move "beyond the blogging" to formulate lasting relationships between woman in the blogging community. We want to provide a place where women can share, care and inspire one another. So stay tuned for more updates and watch for our launch information! I hope you will join my sister and me in this new adventure. There will still be great recipes available...but also so much more!
Can't wait to....meet you there!
Okay so maybe not actually upside down, but I definitely turned the classic pineapple upside down cake on it's proverbial head. I saw this great idea on a recipe website while I was researching classic 1920's desserts and being someone who always likes to liven things up and try something new, I of course had to give this idea a go.
This my dear readers is a two layered round upside down cake.
"she couldn't just be happy with our plain one layered square cake she HAD to go and change it all up. It's just like her you know...she bobbed her hair too. And wears short dresses. with fringe."
...er uh okay forgot I wasn't ACTUALLY in 1920.
Many people don't know that the Pineapple Upside Down Cake first hit the scene in the 20's with the invention of...you guessed it canned pineapple! All those housewives in the midwest who'd probably never even seen a pineapple let alone eaten one, were all of a sudden expected to come up with something to make with it. So what else are you going to do if you're a 1920's midwest housewife... bake a cake of course! The Pineapple Upside Down Cake was a huge hit and it's been with us in some variation ever since. So here's my take on it. Hope you like it!
1/4 cup butter or margarine
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 14 oz. can pineapple slices, drained reserving juice
1 jar maraschino cherries without stems
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 stick of butter, softened to room temperature
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 ½ cup milk
3 Tbs. reserved pineapple juice
Heat oven to 350°F. Divide 1/4 cup butter between two 9" round cake pans, place in oven and allow butter to melt. Remove pans from and divide and sprinkle brown sugar evenly between pans over melted butter. Slice pineapple rings in half to fit around edge of pan as shown in picture on top of brown sugar mixture.
Place remaining whole pineapple slices in middle of pan. Place cherry in center of each pineapple slice.
In medium bowl, beat remaining ingredients with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds, scraping bowl constantly. Beat on high speed 3 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Divide batter between cake pans and pour batter over pineapple and cherries.
Immediately place heatproof serving plate upside down over pan; turn plate and pan over. Leave pan over cake a few minutes so brown sugar mixture can drizzle over cake; remove pan.
Loosen edges of cake in second pan by running a knife carefully along edge. With the aid of an offset spatula (or any wide long handled spatula) quickly but gently flip second cake over bracing with spatula and place on top of first cake. Make sure second layer is centered before removing spatula. Allow cake pan to rest for a minute or two on top of cake so that the brown sugar mixture can drizzle onto cake.
P.S. So now do you wanna know why I was researching classic 1920 dessert recipes?? Well for our New Years Eve Gangster and Flapper Murder Mystery Dinner that's why! grin! Post on this awesome night coming soon!
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"Ice cream and cake and cake..Ice Cream and cake and cake. Ice Cream and cake, do the ice cream and cake..."
So how much do you hate me now, since I know you are singing that in your head? I literally hummed this song the entire time I was making this ice cream cake...which in all honesty has no cake in it! Instead it's a lovely layered confection (say that three times fast) of two different kinds of ice cream, Ghirardelli brownies, chocolate fudge and wrapped in whipped cream frosting.
When I offered to bake the Sweet 16 birthday cake for one of my favorite young ladies in the whole wide world, Ashton, I had no idea that she wasn't really a "cake girl". She's more an ice cream girl. And since I'm always willing to take on a food challenge, I decided to tackle my first ice cream cake.
I will be honest here, I was pretty nervous. Cupcakes..easy peasy, Birthday Cake...piece of cake (yes I meant to say that..grin), Ice Cream Cake...not so sure. Especially, when you know there will be 50 people staring at it.
I am pleased to say it was a success! And I am going to share some of the tricks and tips I learned while making this cake. After this endeavor, I can safely say I will NEVER buy a store bought ice cream cake again! This cake was inspired by one from Zoe Bakes. Who happens to be a pastry chef, so I was pretty darn proud my turned out even remotely as nice as hers.
Layered Ice Cream and Brownie Cake-inspired greatly by Zoe Bakes
2 1.75 quart cartons of your favorite ice cream flavors. (needs to be high quality ice cream)
1 box brownie mix of choice* (needs to be a high quality, I used Ghirardelli that comes with chocolate fudge packet)
3 cups heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Dark and White Chocolate Bars for chocolate curls (optional)
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips for piping (optional)
*You can also use a homemade brownie which I will probably do next time.
8-9" springform pan
2 8-9" round cake pans
pastry bags with small round piping tip (optional for piping chocolate swirls)
vegetable peeler (optional for making chocolate curls)
offset spatula for frosting cake
stand mixer or hand-mixer and bowl
Prepare brownie batter according to package directions. Divide between two 8 or 9" round cake pans that you have lined the bottom with parchment paper. Use the size cake pan that matches the size of your springform pan. When brownies are done. Allow to cool and remove from pans. Place the bottom part of your springform pan over brownie layers and trim brownie to fit within springform pan.
Place bottom of springform pan back into pan and using strips of parchment paper line sides of springform pan. All pieces need to extend over top of pan. You can use a small amount of cooking spray to hold parchment strips to side of pan. Make sure there are no gaps between paper strips, or ice cream might stick to sides of pan.
Place first brownie layer on bottom of pan, if necessary press down on brownie to make sure it is covering bottom all the way to the sides of the pan. Using chocolate fudge pack that came with brownie mix, spread half of fudge on top of brownie layer. A spatula will work well for this.
Remove first carton of ice cream from freezer and soften in microwave for 30 seconds. Still well in carton, making sure ice cream is soft and there are no frozen parts still. Scoop ice cream over brownie and fudge layers, and spread evenly making sure to pack ice cream down. You will most likely not use all of carton. These three layers (brownie, fudge and ice cream) should take up half of the depth of pan. Place in freezer for at least 30 minutes. After ice cream layer is firm again, repeat above steps one more time, ending with final layer of ice cream. Your final layer of ice cream should be level with top of pan.
Loosely cover top of cake with parchment paper and place in freezer for minimum of 4-5 hours or overnight.
When you are ready to frost your ice cream cake, place mixing bowl and whisk feature (if using stand mixer) or beaters (if using hand mixer) in freezer for 30 minutes. Remove and combine whipping cream and sugar in bowl. Whip until mixture begins to form stiff peaks. Add in vanilla and mix to combine. Place whipped cream frosting in container, because you will be taking it in and out of fridge several times.
When frosting is made, remove ice cream cake from freezer. Carefully remove sides of springform pan and parchment paper. Place cake on cake-stand or plate and gently slide off bottom of springform pan, your cake should not be resting on your cake-stand. Place several strips of parchment paper under edge of cake to protect stand while frosting.
Beginning with the top and using an offset spatula, begin to frost cake with a thin layer of frosting. Place back in freezer for 10 minutes and place frosting in refrigerator. Remove both and proceed with second layer of frosting. Continue these steps (being sure to not allow cake to thaw) until you have used most of the frosting. Reserve a small amount for any piping and decoration along bottom edge of cake. You will want to make sure your last frosting layer is as smooth as possible.
Place cake back into freezer. In the meantime, melt chocolate chips a small amount at at a time in microwave according to package directions. Place melted chocolate in decorator bag with small round piping tip. Remove cake and begin to quickly make swirls along top and sides of chocolate. If you make a mistake, wait a moment until chocolate hardens and then carefully remove with a toothpick. If you run out of chocolate melt a new batch. It is better to work in small batches as chocolate hardens quickly and makes piping it impossible.
Return cake to freezer when you are done decorating. If desired make chocolate curls for top of cake using a vegetable peeler. Run your peeler along flat surface of chocolate bars, forming chocolate curls. Spring curls in center of cake.
Keep cake in freezer, until 15 minutes before serving. You will need a very sharp, long knife to properly cut ice cream cake.
Something I might do different next time:
Next time I might make the bottom layer a chocolate cookie crumb layer. Because I was also making 50 cupcakes, I made my bottom layer a day in advance and the bottom brownie layer froze pretty solid. It was difficult to cut through when serving. I might try a different bottom layer next time. But your experience might be different.
I'd love to hear if you decide to make your own ice cream cake!
I also made cupcakes for Miss Ashton, since we knew the cake would not serve everyone. I made red velvet with cream cheese frosting and chocolate A's:
I had so much fun making all of this for my sweet friend. I was honored to be a part of her special day. Ashton...I love you much!
And a big thank you to my friend Jonny, who came out to take pictures and provided me with these. You're the best!
Also, just a reminder to PLEASE KEEP VOTING in the Everyday Chef Challenge. Every vote counts! Here are links to both of my recipes:
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4th of July Week! My favorite summer holiday! I love celebrating the 4th for so many different reasons.
First, and foremost, because I love my country, no matter how I feel about politics, the economy, the oil spill, the war in Afghanistan…I am still thankful everyday to wake up an American. Where I can practice my faith in freedom, homeschool my children without persecution and have my voice heard in the election of my government leaders. I am so grateful for our forefathers who this holiday honors, for believing in the rights of a republic to govern itself. If you have never read “Rise to Rebellion” or “Glorious Cause” by Jeff Shaara I highly suggest them. They opened my eyes to the true sacrifice the colonists made fighting for the freedom of our country.
Second, I love the 4th because I love a party! It’s such a great holiday for family to come visit…and we are having a houseful visiting over the next two weeks..yeah! The fireflies are in full force, the flowers are in full bloom, and the heat is at perfect Popsicle melting temperatures. Fireworks are available..a little secret I still love writing my name in the air with a sparkler, anyone else ever do that?…and our neighbors have their annual Friday after the 4th firework show. And I mean “SHOW” people, you’ve never seen a neighborhood firework display like this…it’s just hard to even explain.
Third, and certainly not least, I love the 4th because I get to break out some great patriotic recipes. When else can you create a whole menu dedicated to the colors red, white and blue, and it not be a little weird. I always love to have one dessert that shouts 4th of July. And this one did not disappoint. I was so excited when I came across this fun and very easy recipe. It just seemed perfect for a summer day…no baking! And it has Americana written all over it with the blueberry and raspberry combination. The lime glaze gives it a little zing and even better it has only 4 grams of fat per slice! I made this for my sweet mother in laws birthday so I could share it with you today, but I can’t wait to make it again on Sunday!
As promised in my last entry at Gourmet Meals for Less, I want to share this great recipe that I adapted from a few different ones I have been dying to try. I first saw a cornmeal cake on Giada's show on The Food Network Channel and was intrigued by the idea. I then saw this great post at The Pioneer Woman where she made these, which looks so delish. I found out later my sister, also a obsessive foodie like yours truly, had made the Pioneer Woman's mini cakes and said they were as good as they looked. I wanted to make a true cake though and I wanted to use cornmeal, so I started searching for some great lemon cornmeal cakes and stumbled upon a Woman's Day recipe that fit the bill perfectly.
Wanting to try the lemon, thyme, combination like the Pioneer Woman's recipe I decided to incorporate chopped thyme. This added just the flavor I was looking for.
My very daring guinea pigs willing family (who by the way scoffed at my recipe when I mentioned lemon, cornmeal and cake all in the same breath) agreed to try it...guess what, yep they loved it! It was moist, and not too sweet and the glaze was so yummy good! I served it with a simple raspberry sauce (crush raspberries with fork, add in sugar until you have a nice syrup) which really added to the complexity of flavors, but you could leave this off and it would be just as delicious.
I wish I could tell you this cake lasted several days but as is usually the case in my house, cakes get eaten for breakfast, snack, lunch...until it's gone. This cake was no exception. I heard on good authority it was great with a cup of coffee around 8 am the next day... but I'm not giving out names...
I hope you will give this unusual cake a try, it will not disappoint!
I know this isn’t a meal…but I wanted to share the recipe to one of my favorite cakes. I love this cake because it is has lot of WOW for not a lot of work. It is so very southern..which you all know is something that I love! Because it has buttermilk in it, the cake is super moist.
There should be no surprise that I found this recipe in Southern Living Magazine, (the magazine I do a little jig at the mailbox over when it arrives.) And, I’ll let you in on a little secret…it’s not “from scratch” but everyone will think it is.
This was the dessert I made for Easter, and as with every time I have served it, it was a hit! Consider making this cake for your next special holiday or event…maybe Mother’s Day. I promise your Momma will love it!
So, my girl (who celebrated her tenth birthday this past week) asked for a Roller Skating/Monkey Party. Those of you who know me well, know that I can’t just leave well enough alone and use the skating rinks birthday supplies and pick up a cake just any ol' place. So the hunt began for cute monkey themed ideas. I stumbled across what I now know is the “infamous” Martha Stewart monkey cake that has been replicated (or in some cases not replicated) all over the Internet. Word was even out that this was one that never turned out as cute as Martha’s when normal people made it. Always being up for a challenge, I decided I could make this from scratch Banana Monkey Cake…and maybe even improve on it a little bit.
Here is Martha’s (which we all know was most likely made by a staff pastry chef) Monkey Cake: Martha Stewart Monkey Cake
and here’s mine….
I think it turned out pretty darn good, and I adapted the recipe by adding mini chocolate chunks and substituting brandy extract (cause we all know anything is better with a little brandy…okay for all of you who take things too seriously it was EXTRACT so no alcohol was involved). It was delicious! and cute! We decided you could make a pig, or panda bear or lion, the options are endless using this basic structure.
And because I can never leave well enough alone, we also made these monkey party favor cups
for that extra special touch…don’t you just love them?!
Following is the recipe for the Monkey Cake and a cost breakdown and below that, directions for the Monkey Favor Cups…maybe you will be inspired to give them a try for your favorite little monkey, let me know if you do!