Sunday, May 31, 2009

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake for my Blog's one year anniversary

Wow!

















Tomorrow is Baked Perfection's one year anniversary. I honestly can not believe that I have been blogging for a year. To be honest with you, I did not think I would make it a year. There were definitely times I was ready to throw in the towel, but then I would get some great comments or a really nice email and it would remind me why I started this blog in the first place. To celebrate my blog reaching the one year mark, I decided I would make a layer cake. Up until this point I had not posted any layer cakes on Baked Perfection. The closest I ever came were cupcakes and the Orange Yogurt Loaf Cake I posted a couple weeks ago. The cake I chose to honor this occasion with was a truly amazing tripe layer Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting and a Chocolate Peanut Butter Glaze. I found it on Smitten Kitchen last year and had actually planed on making it for my birthday last November. I never had the chance to make this cake for my birthday so I knew this was the perfect time to break it out. I decided I would invite some friends over to have a cook out on my apartment's roof top terrace and we would have the cake for dessert. Let me tell you....this cake was amazing! I can not say enough about it. The entire cake was devoured and it actually caused me a little sadness today because I wanted a slice! This cake is rich and will go well with a glass of milk; if you know a chocolate peanut butter cake then this cake is for them. My friends and I loved this cake!

Sour Cream-Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting and Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze
recipe from:
Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes as seen on: Smitten Kitchen

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch process
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup neutral vegetable oil, such as canola, soybean or vegetable blend
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs

1/2 cup coarsely chopped peanut brittle ( Like Deb, I skipped this)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottoms and sides of three 8-inch round cakepans. Line the bottom of each pan with a round of parchment or waxed paper and butter the paper.

2. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Whisk to combine them well. Add the oil and sour cream and whisk to blend. Gradually beat in the water. Blend in the vinegar and vanilla. Whisk in the eggs and beat until well blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and be sure the batter is well mixed. Divide among the 3 prepared cake pans.

3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean. Let cool in the pans for about 20 minutes. Invert onto wire racks, carefully peel off the paper liners, and let cool completely. (Like Deb, I put the cake layers in the freezer for 30 minutes to firm up before frosting)

4. To frost the cake, place one layer, flat side up, on a cake stand or large serving plate. Spread 2/3 cup cup of the Peanut Butter Frosting evenly over the top. Repeat with the next layer. Place the last layer on top and frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting.

5. To decorate with the Chocolate–Peanut Butter Glaze, put the cake plate on a large baking sheet to catch any drips. Simply pour the glaze over the top of the cake, and using an offset spatula, spread it evenly over the top just to the edges so that it runs down the sides of the cake in long drips. Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes to allow the glaze and frosting to set completely. Remove about 1 hour before serving. Decorate the top with chopped peanut brittle.

Peanut Butter Frosting
Makes about 5 cups

10 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
5 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2/3 cup smooth peanut butter, preferably a commercial brand

1. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl often. Continue to beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes.

2. Add the peanut butter and beat until thoroughly blended.

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze
Makes about 1 1/2 cups

8 ounces seimsweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 cup half-and-half

1. In the top of d double boiler or in a bowl set over simmering water, combine the chocolate, peanut butter, and corn syrup. Cook, whisking often, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.

2. Remove from the heat and whisk in the half-and-half, beating until smooth. Use while still warm.


















Would you like a slice?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Butler's Orchard, a Review

A break from city life.

















Over Memorial Day weekend my friend Lauren and I decided we would go berry picking. Both Lauren and I have lived in Washington, DC for the past 8 years and have always lived in a city or right outside of a city so neither of us have spent much time on a farm. We thought we would take an adventure to the DC suburbs and check out an actual farm, Butler's Orchard located in Germantown, MD. It was our plan to pick fresh strawberries, but before we made it to the fields we stopped in the farmhouse store. Lauren convinced me that we needed to get a cookie for "nourishment" while we were berry picking. Let's be honest....I did not need much convincing. They had several cookies, which are baked fresh daily, but we decided on the M&M Cookies. I am so glad we got this cookie. I t was absolutely incredible! This may have been the chewiest cookie I have ever tasted. It was sweet and buttery and the texture was incredible. You could tell it had just been baked, likely by somebody's grandma. In addition to cookies, Butler's Orchard also offers a number of treats such as homemade jams, brownies, blondies, and gorgeous pies. Lauren and I really wanted to try one of the pies, but ended up not getting one out of fear that we would eat the entire thing! If you live in the DC area and would like to get out of town for a few hours I highly recommend visiting Butler's. We had a ton of fun berry picking and the cookie was amazing. I went for the berry picking but I am planning to go back for the baked goods.

Here is a picture of the berries we picked.

Friday, May 22, 2009

S'mores Cookies

These cookies are every bit as delicious as they look.























You may have noticed that I have been in a s'mores kick lately. First with the cookie dough pops, then with these cookies. I also plan to make additional s'mores themed treats this weekend. I saw a version of s'mores cookies on Make and Bake and became immediately intrigued. I knew I had to try to make these...the sooner the better. I ended up making these cookies right before I went to Hilton head with my girlfriends and they were dangerously delicious. In fact, I think I liked these even more than my chocolate chip cookies and I did not think that could be possible! These cookies are multi-taskers; they satisfy your craving for cookies and s'mores. I am telling you that you have to try these!

S'mores Cookies
adapted from Make and Bake

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

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a medium bowl combine the flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking soda, salt, and dash of cinnamon. In a second larger bowl beat together the butter, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract until creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Slowly beat in the flour mixture until smooth. Stir in the chocolate chips. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake for 8 minutes, and remove from the oven. Push 3 to 4 marshmallows and a few pieces of hershey bar into each cookies. Return to the oven and bake an additional 3-4 minutes until fully cooked. Cool cookies on a wire rack.

Makes approximately 4 dozen cookies.
















Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Cinnamon Sugar Scones

Sorry for the delay.

















Sorry to keep you waiting on these scones, but believe me, they are worth waiting for. I am working on a client 18 miles from my house and with DC traffic that means if I do not leave my house by 6:30 in the morning it will take me well over an hour to get there. I am not used to waking up at 5:30 in the morning to go to work, so I have been tired and not really in the mood to do anything when I get home from work. So without further adieu here is a tasty recipe for cinnamon sugar scones which are very similar to snickerdoodles. I loved these scones and so did my friends. I used the basic scone recipe that was given to me by my boyfriend's mom and modified the flavors. I am sure you will love this recipe!

Miniature Cinnamon Sugar Scones
recipe adapted from Teresa Miller

Scones:

2 cups flour
3 tablespoons sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/4 cups whipping cream (heavy cream)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon (by hand). Pour in whipping cream. Mix or knead by hand, just until combined (about 45 second). Mix will be sticky. Flour surface. Divide dough into two sections and pat into two rounds, each approximately four inches. Note: Score each round first with a knife into 4ths , then 8ths. Then cut and put on a greased large cookie sheet. Bake 9 to 11 minutes. Let cool five minutes, then glaze.

Icing:
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 - 2 tablespoons milk


Mix together until a thin icing consistency and pour or drizzle over warm scones. If you are not getting the consistency you want then just add a little more milk.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Signe's Heaven Bound Bakery and Cafe, a review

Heavenly.

















You may have noticed I have been posting more reviews lately. The reason being, I am now a Dictator for a website called SugarBomber.

"SugarBomber is the go-to guide and lookbook for admirers of all things sugary. Whether it’s a foie gras cupcake or red wine truffle, fellow sweet teeth unite for a common goal: scour local neighborhood restaurants and bakeries across the country to find and photograph great cavity-inducing delights."

If that did not sell you then you should just go over to the site and check out all the great photos.

As you can imagine, I jumped at the opportunity to review sweets around town. So when I was on vacation last week I had a few extra desserts just so I could review them. One of the places we went was Signe's Heaven Bound Bakery and Cafe on Hilton Head Island, SC. If you ask me, Signe's is really an island tradition. My family has been visiting them since I was a little girl for brunch of to get a few cookies. This past trip I got the whole wheat waffles which were crispy on the out side and light on the inside. They were delicious and I definitely cleaned the plate! My friends and I also shares a Pecan Sandie and an Almond Sandie on this trip. These cookies were heavenly. They were sweet, nutty, light, and big enough to share. The almond sandie had more of a shortbread texture and the pecan sandie had all the flavors of Pecan Pie. If you are not a fan of nuts, they bake 11 types of cookies daily and each one is as delicious as the next. I am sure I have tried them all over the years. Don't fret if you are not going to be in Hilton Head any time soon. Signe's ships there baked goods!


(Almond Sandie on Left, and Pecan Sandie on Right)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Orange Yogurt Cake

Delightful!

















Well I am back from vacation and wishing I was still at the beach. This past week I was fortunate enough to spend a week on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina with three of my girlfriends. Lucky us, we also spent a day and night in Savannah to further soak up the southern hospitality. This was our second annual trip visiting HHI and Savannah during the first week of May and we plan to keep up the tradition. We relaxed on the beach, biked the trials, shopped the outlets, and ate at glorious restaurants! You can expect to see some reviews of the local restaurants over the next couple weeks ( I need to sort out my pictures), but until I get those reviews up I will share with you some of the yummy treats I baked to bring on the trip. You see, my friends have come to expect that I bring some sort of baked good to everything, and I did not want to disappoint. In addition to the heavenly Orange Yogurt Cake pictured above, I also made a Key Lime and Coconut Yogurt Cake, S'mores Cookies, and Snickerdoodle Scones. You can expect to see those recipes soon.

I saw a recipe for Orange Sour Cream Loaf Cake on The Cooking Photographer and thought it would be the perfect recipe to substitute Greek yogurt. I was lucky enough to be contacted by Stoneyfield Farm Organic Yogurt to see if I would like to sample their new Greek Yogurt line Oikos and of course I jumped at the opportunity. We eat yogurt all the time in our house and often cook with it (in fact we made tzatziki just last night). The cake was amazing and I think the yogurt endhanced the texture and kept the cake moist for days. In addition, the yogurt was great on its own.

Orange Yogurt Cake
adapted from The Cooking Photographer

For the cake:

1 cup fat free Greek yogurt
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
Zest of 3 oranges
1 tsp real vanilla extract
¼ tsp salt
½ cup melted butter
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ cups all purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a loaf pan.

In a medium bowl, mix together the baking powder and flour. In a seperate large bowl, beat together the granulated sugar, eggs, orange zest, vanilla extract, salt, and butter. Stir in the yogurt until combined. Add the flour mixture and mix until combined, being careful not to over mix.

Pour the cake batter into the loaf pan and bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Wait for 10 minutes and carefully remove to a cooling rack.

For soaking warm cake:

1/3 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1 Tablespoon granulated sugar

While the cake is cooking, add the orange juice and granulated sugar to a small sauce pan. Cook over medium high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is melted and the liquid is mainly clear. About 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.

Place the cooling rack on top of a piece of wax paper. Spoon the mixture over the cake. Allow the cake to finish cooling.

For glazing cooled cake:

1 cup powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons fresh squeezed orange juice
2 teaspoons Orange Zest

Mix together powdered sugar and orange juice. Spoon glaze over the top and garnish with orange zest; let the cake set up overnight before serving.

(Note that I baked the cake in 4 miniature loaf pans as apposed to 1 large pan. It took approximately 30 minutes to bake, but you will need to monitor your cakes based on your oven).

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Open City Tiramisu

Another Review for you.

















I happen to live right down the street from Open City, a great restaurant right in the heart of Washington, DC. The other week Zack and I stopped in and shared this wonderful dessert. They entire menu is great, Zack loves the pizza and I am a huge fan of the multi-grain pancakes. You can see they offer a wide range of menu items. But this review, is about the dessert, the OC Tiramisu to be specific.

This tiramisu is everything it is made out to be. Described as "made with a layer each of flourless chocolate cake and chocolate cake soaked with espresso, two layers of mascarpone mousse, and topped with rich cocoa". The mascarpone is light and delicate and a perfect balance to the rich chocolate. This dessert was meant to feed more than one person, so bring a date (or a couple of friends) and dig in!