I only wish I’d thought of this one first!
When I was served this impressive dark chocolate and vanilla mousse cake at a recent reception at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri, my thought was simply, “Oh yeah, I can do this at home!” (The design, that is.)
Here’s how you can too:
- Plain plate–the bigger the better!
- Place a fork and/or spoon in the middle of the plate.
- Find a sieve with the finest mesh possible.
- Add powdered cocoa to the middle of the sieve. Gently tap the side of the sieve to create a pattern on the plate.
- Take off the fork and/or spoon.
- Place your brownie on the plate.
This is a perfect kid assignment–prepping the plates for the brownies.
Thanks Dr. Jessie Voigts of Wandering Educators for sharing your family’s favorite recipe for DIY froyo!
We love yogurt–and even make our own. One of the things I love to do with yogurt is to make frozen yogurt! It’s delicious, capable of so many flavor changes, healthy, and purely addictive. I’ve combined and adapted a few recipes from Downton Abbey Cooks and David Lebovitz to create this mint chocolate chip frozen yogurt recipe. I have to say, we make frozen yogurt a few times a week, especially in the summer heat. Enjoy!
Recipe for Homemade Mint Chocolate Chip Frozen Yogurt
1.5 cups milk
Huge handful of fresh mint, washed well (spiders aren’t as tasty as chocolate chips)
½ c sugar (or more, to taste)
3 T cornstarch
1 c yogurt (regular or Greek)
¼ to ½ c Chocolate chips – I love the dark chocolate chips (more on chocolate goodness to come)
- Combine milk and mint in a medium saucepan, and heat over low until milk is barely at a simmer. Remove from heat and cover for 1-2 hours. You’re steeping the mint in the milk. Don’t worry – the green color is to be expected. When the milk has cooled and the mint has steeped, squeeze out the mint and throw it away. Pour the milk into a jar and refrigerate until you need it.
- Combine the minty milk, cornstarch, and sugar in a medium saucepan. Heat over low, stirring occasionally, until the mixture all of a sudden becomes very thick, like pudding. Remove from the heat, and then stir in the yogurt. Pour into a container and chill in the refrigerator for several hours (ideally, overnight).
- Get your ice cream maker going, and pour in the minty goodness. Freeze until your ice cream maker can’t freeze it any more. If yours is like mine, it will be sort of soft and runny, but still quite edible (especially if you are impatient). Now, you have chocolate choices. You can sprinkle in the chocolate chips in the last few minutes of the ice cream maker going.
Small chocolate chips are so cute in this! Or, you can take out half the ice cream, put it in a freezer-safe dish, and work some magic. Melt some chocolate chips in the microwave, and decoratively pour half of it on top of the ice cream in the dish. Put the rest of the ice cream on top, and then artistically pour the rest of the chocolate on top of that. Freeze until firm, at least 1 hour (ideally, overnight, but seriously, who can wait that long?). Scoop up and enjoy!
Now, to the variations…
Rich chocolate frozen yogurt
Add in 3 T dark cocoa powder to the milk/sugar/cornstarch mixture. You can also add in an additional ½ c chocolate chips at the end, if you desire.
Peanut butter chocolate frozen yogurt
Add in 3 T cocoa powder and ¼ c peanut butter to the milk/sugar/cornstarch mixture. When the ice cream is almost ready, you can add peanut butter chips, or chocolate chips.
Cardamom frozen yogurt
Add in 1 T cardamom to the milk/sugar/cornstarch mixture.
Vanilla frozen yogurt
When you take the milk mixture off the heat, and stir in the yogurt, also add in 1-2 t vanilla.
What flavors will you come up with?
This week my tween got her braces off (round one at least). To celebrate we made brownies featuring her favorite ingredient that’s been on the no-no list for the past 18 months–caramel.
You can use either individual caramels, or I found these handy caramel “bits” at Target.
Recipe for Coconut Caramel Brownies
1 family size brownie mix or your favorite DIY 9×13″ brownie mix
2 cups individual caramels or caramel chips
1/2 cup chopped nuts (walnuts or almonds–or both!)
3/4 cup coconut (I toast mine before baking)
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (opt. hey, we’re celebrating)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Mix up the brownie according to package directions.
- Line a 9×13″ baking dish with aluminum foil and then coat generously with cooking spray.
- Pour half of the brownie batter into the pan and spread evenly to the corners.
- Bake the brownie bottom for about 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a glass measuring cup or bowl, melt the caramel until smooth. I put the caramel in the microwave at 30 intervals, stirring after each time. Usually, it takes around 90 seconds.
- Remove the brownie bottom from the oven and add caramel in glops followed by nuts, coconut, and chocolate chips.
- Top the caramel with the remaining chocolate. Don’t worry if the top isn’t even.
- Bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes or until cooked through and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Cool completely before cutting.
Warning: Eat with braces at your own risk.
Just in time for Memorial Day–the hamburger cake! We had a blast putting this together as a family and the grandparents even joined in to add the finishing touch…the olive on top.
Here’s how to put the cake together.
First, the bun:
Mix up a boxed yellow cake mix and divide into two 8″-round cake pans. Bake until golden. One cake will be the top of the bun and the other the bottom. Let your kids choose which cake looks the most like a bun top. Put them in the fridge (the cake, not the kids).
Now for the meat:
Bake a brownie mix in a 9″-round cake pan (or you can use the same 8″, I just like having the “meat” hang over the side). Yup, in the fridge it goes. Note: You will have extra brownie batter if you use a family-sized brownie mix.
You can’t have a decent burger without the fixins’ mayo, lettuce, tomato, and cheese. I bought 1 can of ready-to-go vanilla frosting. Divide the frosting evenly into four bowls.
Spread the red-tinted frosting onto a piece of waxed paper making two, large circles for the “tomatoes.” Put the tomatoes into the fridge. For the lettuce smear the green-tinted frosting onto a piece of waxed paper with a spoon trying to make the texture uneven, like lettuce. Finally, the yellow-tinted frosting is smoothed onto a piece of waxed paper (you’ll cut it later so the edges don’t need to be even). Into the fridge for all the fixins’.
I recommend having a burger assembly team–there is flipping involved, folks! Make a circle just smaller than the bun bottom with a piece of cardboard. Put your bottom bun piece onto the cardboard circle (this will make assembly, cutting, and moving the cake much easier.)
Break up the green-tinted frosting lettuce into large pieces and lay half of them around the bottom of the bun. Spread a little bit of the leftover white frosting (remember that fourth bowl we haven’t used yet?) and carefully place the brownie “meat” onto the bun bottom–this will hold the “lettuce” in place.
Add more lettuce around the edges of the brownie “meat” and then carefully add more white frosting onto the center of the brownie. Lay the two tomato slices on top of the lettuce. For the cheese, use a kitchen knife to slice the yellow pieces into squares that look like American cheese. Place two pieces of your “American cheese” on top of the tomatoes. Use the rest of the white frosting to smear over the bottom side of the bun top for the “mayo.” It’s flipping time! Flip the bun top onto the cheese layer–carefully (this is a two- or three-person job). Gently push down on the bun top.
With the remnants of white frosting, stick crispy rice cereal pieces onto the top of the bun to look like sesame seeds. We had leftover red and green pieces from constructing the lettuce and tomato so we made it into a green olive for the top of the burger.
Voila! It’s hamburger for dessert.
Is there a German chocolate cake fan in your family? Making an entire cake can be an overwhelming endeavor, especially for pint-sized cooks. Easy solution? Make German chocolate cake in a cup.
Ever since we made mini chocolate raspberry chocolate cups, we’ve been trying out other combos. This one has become a fast favorite. I’ve included lots of make-it-quick steps in the directions.
1 recipe chocolate cake mix
1 recipe coconut dream frosting (or packaged German chocolate frosting)
1 cup chocolate syrup
Whipped cream or ice cream
Toasted coconut (opt.)
You’ll also need:
Mini glasses (plastic mini champagne glasses work well, too)
- Cook the cake according to package directions. You could also use leftover brownies, or bake up a batch. (You will have extra cake.)
- Place a handful of cake into the bottom of all the cups, press it down to make about 1-inch. This is a perfect kid job!
- Drizzle the cake with chocolate syrup (Hershey’s is fine; even better melt 1/4 cup chocolate chips with 1/4 heavy cream in the microwave and let it sit until thickened).
- Add a heaping spoonful of coconut dream frosting into each cup.
- Put another inch of cake into each cup and repeat the process–drizzle chocolate, then add frosting.
- You have a few options for the top of the cup–whipped cream or a small scoop of ice cream. My recommendation: finish it off with Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams in salty caramel. Sprinkle each cup with toasted coconut flakes.
Almost German chocolate cake frosting, but not quite. That’s how I like to describe my coconut frosting.
Softer and creamier than your standard, sticky German chocolate, toasting the coconut and the pecans is the real secret (well, that and a generous helping of heavy cream).
Tweaked from 365 Great Chocolate Desserts
2 1/2 cups coconut
2 cups pecans, chopped
1 cup powdered sugar
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 cups heavy cream
1 tsp. vanilla
Dash of salt
- Place the coconut and nuts onto a nonstick skillet (or if the skillet isn’t big enough work in batches). Bring the skillet to medium-high heat, stirring the mixture with a wooden spoon occasionally to avoid burning, about 3 minutes. As soon as the coconut begins to turn color on the ends, remove from heat. Allow the coconut to cool on the pan–it will continue to toast as it cools.
- Mix together the powdered sugar and cornstarch and then pour into a heavy-bottomed sauce pan.
- Whisk the heavy cream into the powder sugar mixture until blended; bring the cream to medium-high heat, whisking vigorously.
- When the mixture comes to a boil and thickens, remove from heat.
- Stir in the toasted coconut and pecans.
- Cool to room temperature before using to frost cakes, cupcakes, or for mini-parfaits.
Tomorrow, I’ll tell you how to use this yummy frosting to make mini German chocolate parfaits that are perfect for Mother’s Day.
It’s 3.14–yes, Pi day! My tween needed to make a pie to take into her class so we brainstormed something that included some of her favorite ingredients: Nutella, pears, and white chocolate. Since the pie is headed to school, I, of course, had to make one for us to sample at home (sans the white chocolate and speckled with pecans and cranberries instead).
I tweaked this recipe from The Lovely Cupboard for my version.
Prep time: 20 minutes + 20 minutes baking
Servings: 8 pieces
1 unbaked pie shell
2 pears (apples would work well too)
3 tablespoons Apricot perserves
1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 cup Nutella (or more!)
Toppings: white chocolate chips, pecans, cranberries
- Place the unbaked pie dough into your pie or tart pan and press around the edges and up the sides to create the crust. Prick the crust with a fork a few times.
- Spread the Nutella over the bottom of the unbaked pie crust. This took more time than I thought it would–Nutella is sticky!
- Put the pie crust into the fridge while preparing the rest of the ingredients.
- Peel and slice the pears into thin pieces.
- Take the pie crust out of the fridge and layer the pears onto the Nutella.
- Mix the lemon juice in the preserves and warm in the microwave. I heated it for 30 seconds on high. Use a cooking brush (or spoon) to spread the preserves over the pears.
- Sprinkle the pears with topping, if using.
Kids’ reactions: The tart without the white chocolate chips was definitely the frontrunner versus the pie. My kids preferred the thinner crust too. I think next time I’d toss the pears in the marmalade and lemon juice before putting them on the pie to minimize the amount of liquid on day two.
Lately, I’ve noticed little cake desserts popping up from tavern-themed restaurants to Italian restaurants. I like it. They’re akin to a deconstructed cake–all the flavor, much less work.
This weekend I made my own version using cake leftover from my daughter’s birthday party cupcakes.
Cake: 2 cups cooked chocolate cake (it doesn’t need to be pretty you’ll be making it into chunks anyway)
Warmed Raspberry sauce or raspberry jam
Chocolate custard ingredients:
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 tbsp. butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 3/4 cups milk
3 tbsp. cornstarch
2 tbsp. cocoa
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract (opt.)
1 tsp. Black onyx or Espresso powder (opt.)
Chocolate custard directions:
- In a medium-sized sauce pan over low heat, melt the chocolate and butter then stir in the sugar.
- In another bowl, whisk the cornstarch into the milk.
- Stir the milk mixture into the melted chocolate and add in the cocoa, salt, and Espresso powder.
- Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, stir frequently until it thickens.
- Take the pan off the hat and stir in the extracts. Spread the butter over the top of the thickened chocolate to avoid developing a skin.
- Cool the chocolate custard.
To assemble the mini chocolate raspberry cups:
- Press about a tablespoon of chocolate cake into the bottom of the cup.
- Pour about 1/2 tablespoon raspberry sauce over the cake.
- Spoon a tablespoon of chocolate custard in next.
- Repeat cake, sauce, custard and finish off with cake.
- Add a dollop of whipped cream on top.
- Dust with cocoa powder or an extra drizzle of raspberry sauce.
I needed some chocolate therapy this weekend so when a friend of mine passed along a recipe for chocolate cake with the subject line “OMG best cake ever” I had to give it a try. Thanks Jessie!
This recipe for Double-Deep-Chocolate Hanukkah Layer Cake from Gourmet makes for tasty cupcakes. The batter came together fast and filled 28+ cupcakes. (I did 20 then a small-sized loaf for a neighbor.) These are the moistest chocolate cupcakes you’ll ever eat! Even if you’re not a coconut fan, don’t worry, the flavor is slight.
I upped the flavor of the coconut in the frosting with coconut extract.
Prep time: 30 minutes + baking
Servings: 28 cupcakes
3/4 cup vegetable oil plus more for greasing pans
3/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch-process) plus more for dusting pans + 2 tsps. dark cocoa powder (you can also use Espresso powder or my favorite, Black onyx powder)
1 cup water
3/4 cup well-stirred canned unsweetened coconut milk (I use the 14-oz. Light Coconut Milk can from Trader Joe’s)
3 large eggs, warmed in shell in warm water 5 minutes
1 1/2 tsps. pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 tsps. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
Remaining canned coconut milk (about 1 cup)
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate morsels
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. coconut extract (opt.)
4 tbsps. butter
Pinch of salt
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a large bowl, whisk the oil, water, eggs, coconut milk, and vanilla.
- In another bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- Blend the wet ingredients into the dry until smooth.
- Fill cupcake holders 2/3 of the way full.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes or until cooked through.
- Microwave all of the frosting ingredients except the vanilla in a glass measuring cup for 1 minute on high.
- Stir and continue microwaving at 30-second intervals until the chocolate is smooth; stir in the vanilla.
- The frosting will be thin; cool it in the refrigerator until it gets thick enough to spread on the cupcakes.