Chocolate Marzipan Cookies

It was Teacher’s Convention last week, and I went to my brother-in-law’s house and hung out with him and his wife, Serena. I’m lucky and married into a pretty great family. Well, Serena had a tube of marzipan that she didn’t know what to do with, so I took to Pinterest.I found this recipe, and Serena and I attempted it, and it was incredible! The cookies are thick, crispy on the edges, and chewy and tender in the middle.Really, I don’t want to continue writing. Please just make these cookies!!

Ingredients

Yield: 2 dozen cookies

½ c. butter, very soft
1/3 c. sugar
½c. brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
1½ c. flour
1 c. chocolate chips
½ c. chopped dark chocolate
½ c. chopped marzipan
Sea salt, to finish

In a large bowl fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars together. Add the egg and the vanilla, and beat again.Mix in the baking soda and salt, then add in the flour and mix on slow until flour is incorporated.Fold in the chocolate chips, chopped chocolate, and marzipan. Chill the dough for 1-2 hours.Preheat oven to 350°F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or silpat. Scoop out large tablespoon sized balls of cookie dough, roll into balls, place about 2 inches apart, and flatten slightly with the palm of your hand.Bake in the preheated oven for 11-15 minutes, until the edges are light golden. Once out of the oven, sprinkle cookies with salt, let cool on the trays for about 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Triple-Layer Moist Chocolate Cake

This cake has been sent down from the Chocolate Gods for us all to enjoy. It is so easy to make, and DAMN it makes a good cake. I originally stumbled across this recipe a few years ago, and it came on my radar again when a friend asked if I could make a chocolate cake for her. The only hitch was that it had to be gluten-free. I turned to a good friend for a recipe recommendation, and she told me to just use a good cake recipe I had and sub in some gluten-free flour. I double-checked that all the other ingredients were gluten-free, and it was AMAZING.

So yes, I have only made this cake gluten-free, but here’s the deal. I made this cake twice: one test run, and one for my friend. I took the test-run gluten-free cake to a party, and didn’t tell anyone it was gluten-free until after everyone finished it… and they HAD NO IDEA. They said it was an amazing cake and they COULDN’T BELIEVE the cake was gluten-free. That was the only swap I made! This cake is THAT GOOD. *I did forget to get a picture of the cross-section, but this cake was incredible!*

The original recipe, found here, is not gluten-free, but that is the only change I made – other than the tweaks I made to the frosting. I’m sure it is just as good with regular flour. But man, this is a really freaking delicious cake. For the frosting, I prefer the texture of all-butter icings, so I used all butter in the frosting, and lessened the amount of icing sugar, as I got my frosting to my preferred texture and consistency with less. I have included my changes below, but if you would like the original measurements, be sure to go and check out Life, Love and Sugar. She is fantastic! If you like chocolate, then get ready. This cake will rock your world.

Ingredients

Yield: 1 triple-layer 9-inch cake

For the cake:

2 c. flour
2 c. sugar
¾ c. cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 c. buttermilk
1 c. vegetable oil (I used canola)
1½ tsp. vanilla
1 c. hot water

For the frosting:

2½ c. butter, at room temperature
5-6 c. icing sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1 c. cocoa powder
4-5 tbsp. milk

Preheat oven to 300°F. Line three 8 or 9 inch cake pans with parchment paper on the bottom, and grease the sides.

In a large mixing bowl, add all dry ingredients and whisk together. Add in the eggs, buttermilk, and oil, and whisk again.

Add the vanilla to the boiling water, and add in to mixture, mixing well.

Divide batter evenly between cake pans, and bake for 30-33 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out with a few crumbs.

Allow cakes to cool in pans about 10 minutes before removing cakes from pans and cooling completely.

To make the frosting, beat the butter until smooth. Add in 4 c. icing sugar and mix until smooth. Add in the vanilla, and 1-2 tbsp. of milk. Mix until smooth, and check for consistency.

Add in the rest of the icing sugar, the cocoa powder and 1-2 more tbsp. of milk until smooth and spreadable.

Once cakes are cool, level with a knife. On a cake plate, spread a small dollop of frosting in the center to make the bottom cake stick. Place the bottom layer of cake down, and cover with about 1 cup of frosting. Repeat with the second cake layer and another cup of frosting.

Add last cake layer, then frost rest of cake. I went for a more rustic, swooshy style of decorating, but feel free to make the frosting perfectly smooth. Slice, and serve!

Cinnamon Roll Cheesecake

I love cheesecake! I don’t make it often, because Paul hates the texture of cheesecake, but I saw this recipe and had to try it. Paul even said it smelled good enough to eat, and that was quite a thing to say.

It was a fairly easy recipe, and interesting as well. You make the crust, a cheesecake batter, and a cinnamon roll filling. You parbake the crust, then layer the cheesecake batter and the cinnamon roll filling. Bake it up, then ice it like a cinnamon roll with cream cheese frosting, and you have a cinnamon roll cheesecake!

I might just make this for my annual Christmas baking. The original recipe was from here, and is definitely a recipe you want to try if you like cheesecake, cinnamon rolls, or both!

Ingredients

Yield: 1 cheesecake

For the crust:

1½ c. nilla wafer or graham cracker crumbs
4 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
5 tbsp. butter, melted

For the cheesecake batter:

3 8-oz. pkgs. cream cheese, softened
1 c. sugar
3 tbsp. flour
4 eggs
1 c. sour cream
2 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. cinnamon

For the cinnamon filling:

2 c. brown sugar, lightly packed
5 tbsp. cinnamon
¾ c. flour
12 tbsp. butter, melted

For the cream cheese icing:

2 tbsp. cream cheese, softened
6 tbsp. butter, softened
1½ c. icing sugar
4-5 tbsp. milk

Preheat oven to 325°F. In a medium bowl, combine all crust ingredients. Press into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan.

Bake for 10 minutes. Remove and let cool. Turn oven down to 300°F. Transfer a baking pan full of warm water to the lower rack of the oven.

To make the batter, in the bowl of a mixer, combine the cream cheese, sugar, and flour. Scrape down the side of the bowl. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Add the sour cream, vanilla, and cinnamon. Beat until well combined. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the filling ingredients. Whisk together the brown sugar, cinnamon, and flour. Stir in the melted butter, and combine well.

In the cooled crust, sprinkle about ¼ of the filling mixture over the crust. Top with 1/3 of the cheesecake batter. Layer the filling over the cheesecake batter. Repeat, ending with a layer of the cinnamon filling on top.

Bake cheesecake in preheated oven for 1 hour. Turn oven off, and leave cheesecake in hot oven for 1 hour. Remove from oven and let cool to room temperature.

Once at room temperature, transfer cheesecake to refrigerator and chill until cold.

To make the icing, in a medium bowl combine cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add vanilla and icing sugar, and mix again until smooth. Add milk to a smooth consistency. Pipe icing over cooled cheesecake, and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Almond Amaretto Cake

September is my birthday month! This is the cake that I made for myself. I had a wicked craving for something almond, and this cake really hit the spot. The almond flavour is everywhere, and it really sings in this cake. I was pretty spoiled for my birthday. I came in to my classroom and it was filled with balloons. I had some of my students make me cookies, and a dear friend had flowers delivered to me at work. After all that, Paul made an amazing dinner of maple glazed pork belly, loaded mashed potato spring rolls, and grilled asparagus. Like I said, spoiled.

I love me some cake, and couldn’t resist when I found this recipe. I found the original recipe here, and didn’t change it either. The cake is moist and delicious, soaked with a luxurious amaretto syrup. It has a ton of almond flavour in the cake, partly because of the almond flour, and partly because of the almond extract and amaretto in the actual cake.

The only part of the cake without any almond flavour is the buttercream, which I really like, as it gives a bit of a break from the nutty richness of the cake. A smooth, sumptuous vanilla Swiss Meringue buttercream icing, slathered all over the three layer cake. Garnish with toasted slivered almonds, and you have a knock-your-socks-off cake loaded with almond flavour.

If someone you know loves the flavour of almond, make them this cake to celebrate their next birthday. It’s incredible!

Ingredients

Yield: 1 6-inch three-layer cake

For the cake:

1½ c. flour
¾ c. almond flour
2 tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. salt
¾ c. butter, at room temperature
1½ c. sugar
3 eggs
1½ tsp. vanilla

¾ c. milk, at room temperature
¼ c. Amaretto liqueur

For the amaretto syrup:

½ c. sugar
½ c. water
¼ c. Amaretto liqueur

For the vanilla Swiss Meringue buttercream:

5 large egg whites
1½ c. sugar
1½ c. butter, at room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla

1 c. sliced almonds, toasted (for garnish)

To make the cake, preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour (or brush with Miracle Cake Release) three six-inch cake pans.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, almond flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Combine the milk and amaretto in a liquid measuring cup. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Add vanilla.

Alternate adding the flour mixture and milk mixture to the eggs, beginning and ending with the flour. Pour into prepared pans, and bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Cool cakes in pan for 10 minutes, then remove from pans and cool completely before icing.

To make the amaretto syrup, in a small saucepan combine the sugar and water. Whisk together, and bring to a boil and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, and stir in the amaretto. Let cool.

To make the Swiss Meringue Buttercream, in the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the egg whites and the sugar. Place the bowl over a double boiler, and whisk constantly until the mixture reaches approximately 160°F.

Place the bowl of the stand mixer back on the stand mixer, and whisk on medium-high heat until the meringue is stiff and cooled. The bowl should no longer be warm to the touch, which should take about 5-10 minutes.

Switch to the paddle attachment, and add the butter, about a tablespoon at a time, until it is completely incorporated. Add vanilla and mix again until light and fluffy.

To assemble, place a small dollop of the icing on the serving plate. Trim cakes so they are flat and level. Brush cakes with amaretto syrup, to make sure cakes are moist. Place one cake layer on the icing dollop. Layer cake with icing, then repeat with last two cake layers.

Frost the outside of the cake with a thin crumb coat. Chill for 20 minutes. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the icing, and pipe dollops on top of the cake. Cover sides and/or top of the cake with slivered almonds.

Slice, and serve!

Nanaimo Bars

Happy Canada Day!

I was feeling in the mood to celebrate Canada Day, and I figured what better way to celebrate than making a treasured national dessert.

I had no idea how easy Nanaimo bars are to make, and I’m kind of kicking myself for not making them sooner. I like Nanaimo bars, but I find that they can be a bit rich, so when I indulge, I usually only have a small piece. Paul loves them, though, and he doesn’t get them very often. These are also no-bake! How fantastic is that! There is a little bit of stove-top use, but really, that’s about it. For the recipe, I actually went to my mom, and to the plethora of cookbooks I have in my kitchen. I found a recipe in a Company’s Coming cookbook, and my mom (bless her heart!) actually sent me to the City of Nanaimo website, where they HAVE A RECIPE FOR THESE! Crazy, right?

The Company’s Coming cookbook was the 150 Delicious Squares book, (where these Marshmallow Squares originated from), and here is the link to the City of Nanaimo website. I compared them to see how different they are, and they are almost identical, so I took a few things from the cookbook, and a few things from the website to create (hopefully) a perfect version of a Canadian classic.

Happy Canada Day from me to you!

Ingredients

Yield: 1 9×9 inch pan (24-36 bars, depending on cut size)

For the bottom layer:

½ c. butter
1/3 c. cocoa powder, sifted
¼ c. sugar
1 egg, beaten
1¾ c. graham cracker crumbs
¾ c. shredded unsweetened coconut
½ c. finely chopped almonds

For the middle layer:

2 c. icing sugar
½ c. butter, softened
3 tbsp. milk or cream
2 tbsp. vanilla custard powder (I used Bird’s brand)

For the top layer:

2/3 c. (or 4 oz.) semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tbsp. butter

To make the bottom layer, melt the butter in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add in the cocoa and sugar and stir until smooth. Add in the beaten egg. Stir until mixture thickens. Remove from heat.

Stir in the graham cracker crumbs, coconut, and almonds. Press into an ungreased 9×9 square pan. Set aside in the fridge to firm up.

To make the middle layer, beat the butter with the icing sugar and custard powder until smooth. Add in the milk or cream as needed. Spread evenly over bottom layer. Set aside in the fridge to firm up.

To make the top layer, in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the butter and chocolate chips, stirring often. Remove from heat when chocolate is almost fully melted, and stir until smooth. Spread evenly over middle layer. Smooth out, and chill in the refrigerator until top layer is set.

Slice and serve.