Monday, March 30, 2009

Chocolate Cake with Oreo Cookies and Cream Filling

Birthday Princess

Baby Bell's 2nd birthday was in March, so I decided that instead of buying a cake and paying lots of money, it would be cheaper and more fun to make my own. Well, I can honestly say it was cheaper to make my own, but it was A LOT of work!
We had a Hello Kitty theme.

I got a book from the Library entitled The Whimsical Bakehouse and it had a great selection of recipes from cakes to frostings to cheesecake to decorating with chocolate! I decided to go with a simple chocolate cake since I was making this cake for a very picky bunch of people: my inlaws! Don't get me wrong, they are WONDERFUL people, they are just really really picky and aren't up for trying new and exciting recipes. I bought some cake flour from the Surplus store for $1.00 and I already had all of the other ingredients in stock, except for the Oreos and Heavy Whipping Cream.

For the filling I went with the Oreo Cookies and Cream Filling. I figured everyone loves Oreos, right? I decided to go with their house recipe for Buttercream, which was the same choice. This was the best buttercream recipe I have ever tasted! Both the filling and frosting make enough to frosting my entire cake plus I had a some leftover for future use. Maybe for cupcakes, perhaps?
I use the Betty Crocker Bake and Fill, but I think next time I'll just use cake pans. The Bake and Fill did do the job, it was just weird for me to work with since it was my first time. The recipe belows calls for doing 3 cups of the batter in one pan and filling the rest in the other, so one will be more full then the other. I think this might be because these cakes where meant to filled so they are lopsided. I didn't do this method because I used the bake and fill, so I'm not sure what the times would be if you wanted to just fill them evenly. I would start with the lesser time and keep checking every 5 minutes or so. The Bake and Fill took about 45 minutes to bake.
The total time it took from start to finish was about 4 hours. I reccomend, though, giving the cake a lot more time to completely cool before frosting it. I was a little hasty and had a hard time with it. The cake must be put in the fridge if not consuming right away. Don't worry, it won't be dry. In fact, as long as you give it a half hour to an hour to sit out in room temperature, it will be very moist! I made my cake the day before and I found that the longer it sat the more flavorful it was. Everyone raved about this cake, so I will definitely be making this one from now on.
Chocolate Butter Cake (9 Cups Batter)
1 C hot coffee
1 C cocoa powder
1 C cold water
3 C cake flour
2 Tsp baking soda
1/2 Tsp baking powder
3/4 Tsp salt
2 Sticks unsalted butter
2 1/2 C sugar
4 Large eggs
1 1/2 Tsp vanilla extract
1. Grease and flour two 10x3-inch round pans.
2. Preheat oven to 350 F.
3. In a small bowll, combine and whisk until there are no lumps the coffee and cocoa powder.
4. Add and whisk until smooth the water.
5.On a piece of wax paper, sift together cake flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
6. In a seperate bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
7. Slowly add eggs, one at a time and vanilla.
8. Add the dry ingredients alternately to the butter and egg mixture with the cocoa, mixing until smooth.
9. Pour 3 cups of the batter into one pan and the rest into the other. Bake the less full pan for 20-25 minutes, and bake the fuller pan of 30-35 minutes.
10. Cool each cake a wire rack for 15-20 minutes before turning them out of their pans.
Oreo Cookies and Cream Filling (6 Cups)
2 1/2 C heavy cream
1/4 C confectioner's sugar (I call it "powdered sugar")
1/2 Tsp pure vanilla extract
20 Oreos (I used double stuffed.)
1. In a bowl, beat cream, sugar, and vanilla until stiff.
2. Gently fold in Oreos.
House Buttercream
6 C confectioner's sugar
1/2 Tsp salt
1 Tsp vanilla extract
1 C boiling water
2 3/4 C vegetable shortening
1 1/2 Sticks butter, slightly chilled and cut into 1 inch pieces
1. In a bowl, stir together sugar, salt, and vanilla.
2. Add and whip at low speed the boiling water. Let cool.
3. Add and whip unitl smooth the vegetable shortening and butter.
4. Increase teh speed to medium-high and whip until light and fluffy and doubled in volume. This should take 10-20 minutes.
Assembling the cake
I could just tell you but I think it is better if you watch step by step videos from this website:
1. Make sure cake is completely cool before frosting.
2. Place cake in fridge if you are not eating it right away.
3. Allow 30 minutes to an hour to set out at room temp. before serving.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

April's Cheese of the Month is...

Well, I decided to choose a cheese that is often overlooked and underappreciated---kind of like all of us moms! This cheese can be used in any type of dish from appretizers to dinners to dips to desserts. That's right, I'm taking about Cream Cheese or its baby sister---the cheese that begins with an N. Can anyone pronounce it? Well, anyways I love Cream Cheese. It is stable at our house. My daughter loves it on homemade toast or bagels, my husband loves it in dips and mash potatoes, and I love it in desserts! If you want an even bigger challenge try creating a whole meal---appretizers, entree, sides, and desserts---uses cream cheese! Now that's a challenage! But one recipe would do just find too! Good luck!

And remember to e-mail me when you are done.

What is Cheese of the Month? Go here to find out:

Fontina Results

Well, this month sure did go by fast! This was my daughter's birthday month---yes that's right she gets a whole month! Since our family isn't from this area, we had to spend every weekend visiting and having parties, which was a TON of fun but very exhausing! So, I made sure to do my recipe at the beginning of the month.

We had two wonderful bloggers this month, Carey of Cooking with Carey and Samantha of The Second Lunch. Carey made a wonderfully delicious Roast Turkey Panini with Pesto, Roasted Red Peppers, and Fontina. Yummy! I absolutely LOVE paninis! And what a great choice of flavors, too!

Roast Turkey Panini with Pesto, Roasted Red Peppers, and Fontina
Carey of Cooking with Carey

1/4 cup prepared basil pesto
8 slices ciabatta bread or other rustic Italian white bread, thinly sliced
8 ounces very thinly sliced roast turkey breast
1 roasted red bell pepper, stemmed, skin and seeds removed, cut into thin strips
6 ounces fontina cheese, thinly sliced, to cover the bread slices
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Arrange the slices of bread on a flat work surface and, using a small spoon, divide the pesto evenly among 1 side of each of the bread slices.

Divide the turkey, roasted pepper strips, and fontina equally among 4 of the bread slices. Top with the remaining 4 slices of bread, pesto sides down, to form 4 sandwiches.

Brush the outsides of each sandwich lightly with some of the olive oil. Heat a large skillet, griddle, or grill pan over medium-high heat. When the skillet is hot, add the sandwiches and cook until the bread is golden brown and the cheese is melted, pressing occasionally with a large metal spatula or the bottom of a small heavy saucepan, about 4 minutes per side. Remove sandwiches and transfer to a cutting board. Slice in half on the diagonal and serve immediately.

Samantha of The Second Lunch wisely combined her Barefoot Blogging challenge with this month's cheese challenge. She prepared some lovely Tomato Goat Cheese Tarts. The tastly little tarts combined two cheeses; goat cheese and some sort of melty cheese. Of course she used Fontina, which a great melting cheese. What a fantastic pairing! Make sure to check out her blog to see beautiful photos of her creation as well as the scenery on the way to get her cheeses!

Tomato and Goat Cheese Tarts
adapted from Ina Garten
Serves 2

1 sheet of puff pastry, defrosted
- extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 large onion, thinly sliced
- 1 clove garlic
- coarse salt and black pepper
- 2 tablespoons dry white wine
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
- 4 tablespoons freshly grated Fontina, with some shaved
- 2 ounces goat cheese (I used plain, but Ina recommends herb and garlic Montrachet)
- 2 thick slices of tomato (about 1/4 inch) from a medium tomato
- a few teaspoons of julienned basil (use fresh if at all possible, but it works fine with dried)

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
2. Take a sheet of defrosted puff pastry (I used Trader Joe’s Artisanal Puff Pastry, frozen, which comes in big sheets), and draw six inch large circles of pastry, using a bowl or saucer as your guide. Place pastry rounds on a sheet pan lined with parchment, and stick in the fridge to keep them cold until you are ready to use them. (Note: quickly take the leftover scraps, sprinkle them with cinnamon and sugar, and put them in the oven for the next ten minutes or so while you cook the onions. They make a fantastic snack.)
3. In a pan on medium heat, add a couple of good glugs of olive oil, and saute the onion and garlic for about 15 minutes until starting to get very soft. Season with salt and pepper, add the white wine and thyme leaves. Turn the heat down just slightly, and cook for another 10 to 15 minutes until very soft and lightly browned. Take off the heat.
4. Now for the fun part: take your pastry rounds, and with a sharp knife, score a 1/4 inch wide border around the inside of the edge of the circle. Sprinkle about a tablespoon of the fontina cheese on each round, staying inside the scored border. (This is so when baking, the border will rise and create a little edge.)
5. In each circle, place half of your sauteed onions inside the border, and crumble an ounce of the goat cheese. Take your tomato and plop it on top, brushing it with a little bit of olive oil, giving it a sprinkle of salt, pepper, and the basil, and the rest of the fontina cheese.
6. Bake for 20 minutes, until the pastry is golden. You might want to watch it in the end, because if your oven is too hot or uneven it might start to burn. You can serve it on its own, or with a little lemony salad with arugula, and any leftover tomato you might have.

I decided to do something simple this month. Flipping through my Pillsbury Cookbook, I found a new twist on an old favorite---Mac N Cheese, grown up style! I had to tweek the recipe a little but it ended up being FABULOUS! My husband loved it and it was so easy to make too. Fontina is one of those cheeses that melts beautifully. The recipe calls for Swiss, but Aldi's was out of it so I decided to use Havarti since it was a milder type of cheese that melts well. I also omitted the alcohol since we don't drink. (I'm sure the alcohol burns off but why take the risk?) I also omitted the tomatoes because I thought that would ruin the flavor. So, I added onions insteads! I love onions and onions and cheese go very well together. This dish was amazing and I will be making it a stable in my house!

Grown-Up Mac "N" Cheese
Pillsbury Complete Cookbook

2 1/2 C Uncooked Penne Pasta
2 Tbsp Butter
2 Tbsp Flour
1/4 Tsp Salt
1/8 Tsp White Pepper
Dash Nutmeg
1 1/4 C Half and Half
1/2 C Fontina, shredded
1/2 C Havarti, shredded
1/2 C Fresh Parmesan, shredded
1/4 small onion, minced

1. Heat oven to 350F. Spray a 1 1/2 quart caserole with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Make the pasta as directed and drain.

3. Meanwhile, melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Saute the onions and then stir in flour, salt, pepper, and nutmeg; cook and stir until bubbly. Gradually add half and half, stirring constantly. Cook until mixture boils and thickens, stirring fequently. Remove from heat. Stir in all three cheeses until melted.

4. Add pasta to cheese sauce, stir gently to coat. Pour into sprayed dish.

5. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until edges are bubble and mixture is thoroughly heated.

Team Baking with the Baby

My daugther, Baby Bell, and I have been baking with Operation Baking Gals for a few months now. This month I thought I would host my cousin, Eddie. For those of you who are new to what Baking GALS is all about, let me take a moment to sum it up for you. Baking GALS (GALS stands for Give A Little Support) is a group of volunteer bakers who bake and ship homemade goodies to our heroic troops that are currently deployed. Each soldier is "Hosted" by a blogger, and potential bakers are "recruited" from the bloggers own site as well as the GALS site. Each Host recruits between 20-25 bakers, meaning LOTS of goodies get delivered to our many, in fact that he or she has plenty to share with their fellow troops!

I already posted Eddie's information on the site but I thought I would post it here too.

Before being sent to Iraq, he was helping to raise his baby nephew, Josh, while attending high school. He sacrificed a lot to stay home on weekends and weeknights to watch the baby. However, when he had free time, he would spend it riding his four wheeler with his friends. Yes, he is a big red neck! He graduated from Uniontown High School in Pa and is now 19 years old. He is very patriotic and knew when he signed up that he would be sent to Iraq fairly quickly. He is proud to serve his country and to make a better world for his nephew. Sadly, I don’t have a current picture of him right now, but he comes from a long line of good looking people! ;-) He loves all types of cookies, but chocolate chip are his favorite. He also has NO allergies, so anything goes! If you would like to join my group please e-mail me at

If you have any questions about what to send or how to send to it you can go the site FAQ's: You do not have to register on the site if you don't want too. You can just simply email me and I'll send you his address. My daughter and I just send 7 dozen cookies to him today. We made all kinds too! I love this group because my daughter and I are "baking for a cause!" The soliders all need and appreciate the goodies we make. It is a small way to "do our part."

Thanks for your support and happy baking!

Team Baking with the Baby