Sugar Cookie Bars

This came about from a craving for sugar cookies, but without the desire to make the dough, cool, roll, cut, and bake. I wanted something plain and simple, easy to make, with delicious results.

These cookie bars are just that. The dough takes about five minutes to whip up, you press it all into a pan, then bake, cool, and top with the frosting that also comes together in a flash.

I got the recipe here, and I am so glad I finally gave these a go! They have been on my Pinterest boards forever, and were desperately crying out for me to make them. They are soft, chewy, and just everything you want in a simple sugar cookie. Not going to lie, I cut the bars into 16 pieces, so slightly smaller than the recipe calls for, but I feel like 16 is the perfect number. Paul was also watching, and he was very excited for a big piece of a cookie bar. (He also basically licked the bowl clean when I finished spreading the frosting… What can I say? The man loves his sweets!)

Go make these! Please, you need them in your life!

Ingredients

Yield: About 12-16 bars, depending on cut size

For the cookie dough:

½ c. butter, softened
1 c. sugar
2 tbsp. sour cream
1 egg
½ tsp. vanilla
2½ c. flour
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. kosher or sea salt

For the frosting:

½ c. butter, softened
4 c. icing sugar
4-6 tbsp. whipping cream (milk works as well, just use less)
½ tsp. vanilla
Pinch kosher or sea salt
Food colouring (if desired)
Sprinkles (if desired)

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a 9 x 13 pan with parchment paper, set aside.

In the bowl of a mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until pale and well-combined.

Add in the sour cream, egg, and vanilla, and mix again. Add in the flour, salt, and baking powder, and mix on low speed until completely incorporated and a cohesive dough forms.

Press into the prepared baking pan in an even layer. Bake in the preheated oven for 16-17 minutes. If the edges start to turn brown, take out of the oven immediately.

Let cool completely before frosting.

While the cookie bars are cooling, make the frosting.

In the bowl of a mixer with a whisk attachment, whip the butter until creamy. Add in the icing sugar, a half cup at a time, adding in the vanilla and a little bit of milk or cream at a time to get to the right consistency (it should be spreadable, but not too thin). Add in the food colouring, and whip until cohesive.

Spread onto the cooled cookie bars, then remove from pan (the parchment paper is helpful here…. handles!) and slice into bars. Store in the refrigerator for firmer icing, or at room temperature for softer icing.

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Funfetti Cake

It’s not my birthday, but is there ever a bad time for Funfetti cake? I thought not!

I’ve been in a cake-baking mood lately, but have had no time, so with the long weekend that I have this week, I decided to just go for it. I surfed around the internet (a.k.a. Pinterest) until I found a cake that caught my eye, and this was it!

I was extremely pleased with the results, because I had been searching for a Funfetti cake from scratch recipe that didn’t need a ton of egg whites (because I always find it hard to find something to do with the yolks). This recipe calls for cake flour, but I used regular all-purpose and it turned out just fine.

There was never a ton of Funfetti cake in my house growing up, unless someone went out and specifically bought the boxed version. If we were making cake though, it was going to be a chocolate boxed version. Now, the boxed versions of cake mix are great when you are in a pinch. But I’ve found that I can taste whether or not the mix came out of a box. It’s a gift?

Either way, I much prefer homemade cakes to boxed versions (who wouldn’t!?), and this one takes the cake… Sorry. I had to.

If you have a Funfetti fan in your life, this is the cake for them! I will also note that the icing recipe was at best, sparse to cover the cake, hence I kind-of went for the “naked cake” decorating look. It’s not perfect by any means, but I’m still growing as a cake artist. If I were to make this again, I would one and a half times the icing recipe, and I think that would yield the perfect amount of frosting to fill, and decorate.

Ingredients

Yield: 1 8-9 inch three layer cake

For the cake:

3 c. flour (cake flour or all-purpose)
2½ c. sugar
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1½ c. butter, at room temperature, cut into cubes
1¼ c. buttermilk, divided
5 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1 c. confetti sprinkles

For the frosting:

2 c. butter, at room temperature
3¾ c. icing sugar
¼ c. heavy cream or milk, more or less as needed
1-2 tsp. vanilla
Food colouring, as desired

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour three 8 or 9 inch cake pans. (I used my Miracle Cake Release. A 1:1:1 ratio of flour, vegetable oil, and shortening.) Set aside. I also used my homemade “Bake-Even” strips: strips of damp towel that are pinned around the sides of my cake tins. If you use these, the cakes will bake perfectly level, no cutting required!

In the bowl of a mixer, add the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Mix to combine. Add the butter and 1 cup of buttermilk. Mix on low until incorporated, then on medium until mixture is light and fluffy.

In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining ¼ c. of buttermilk with the eggs and vanilla. Add to the batter in three additions, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the sprinkles, and divide the batter evenly between pans.

Bake in the preheated oven for 35-45 minutes, until light golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Remove pans from oven and cool completely on a wire rack. Turn out of pans to decorate.

To make the frosting, in the bowl of a mixer beat the butter on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add in the icing sugar, a half cup at a time, until fully incorporated. If the mixture is getting too thick, add a tablespoon or so of the milk or cream. Add in the vanilla and the food colouring, if using.

To frost, place the first cake layer on your serving platter. Top with about a half cup of icing, and spread evenly. Repeat with the second and third layer. After that, spread remaining icing around the top and sides of the cake. Decorate as you like. I used a few extra sprinkles, but small round ones instead of more confetti sprinkles.

Slice, and serve!

Death by Chocolate Cake

I am a huge chocolate fan, and this cake is EXTREMELY chocolatey. As in, you-need-a-really-small-piece-and-a-big-glass-of-milk-to-go-with-it chocolatey. It’s a very rich cake, but so worth it.

I found the original recipe here, and the only thing I changed was double the recipe, so I got a three-layer 6-inch cake, and cupcakes. I made a teeny error in judgement though, and only made 12 cupcakes. I could have easily gotten two dozen cupcakes from the recipe. They rose like crazy, and I had a dozen monster cupcakes. (Paul wasn’t complaining!)

I’m posting the original recipe, and it makes one triple-layer 6-inch cake. If you are a chocolate fan, then go and make this cake! You will not be disappointed. Rich chocolate cake with a creamy, silky chocolate buttercream icing. Oh, yes. Death by Chocolate indeed!

Ingredients

Yield: 1 triple-layer 6 inch cake

For the cake:

1⅓ c. flour
⅔ c. cocoa powder
1½ c. sugar
1¼ tsp. baking powder
1¼ tsp. baking soda
¾ tsp. salt
2 eggs
¾ c. milk
⅓ c. vegetable oil
1½ tsp. vanilla
¾ c. strong brewed coffee, hot

For the frosting:

1 c. butter, softened
3½ c. icing sugar
½ c. cocoa powder
¼ tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla
¼ c. heavy cream

To make the cake, preheat oven to 350°F. Grease three 6-inch pans and dust with cocoa powder (or brush pans with Miracle Cake Release). Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs on medium-low until yolks and whites are combined, but not over-mixed. Add in the milk, oil, and vanilla, and mix. Slowly pour in the dry ingredients while the mixer is on low. When the batter is cohesive, slowly add in the coffee and mix on low. When batter is smooth and thin, stop the mixer. (The batter will look VERY thin. It’s okay, trust me!)

Pour batter evenly into the prepared plans (recipe makes 2 dozen cupcakes if you don’t make a cake), and tap lightly on the counter to remove any air. Bake in the preheated oven for 32-35 minutes, or until centers are set, and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 5-10 minutes, then remove from the pans and cool completely on wire rack.

To make the frosting, cream the butter in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Stop the mixer, and add 3 cups of the icing sugar, and all the cocoa powder into the mixer. Mix on low until combined.

Turn mixer to medium and add vanilla, salt and cream. Beat until fully absorbed and creamy. Add more icing sugar or milk if needed.

To assemble the cake, place a cake layer on cake stand, and spread an even layer of icing on the first cake layer. Top with second layer of cake, another layer of frosting, and top with last layer of cake. Finish cake with remaining frosting, covering the top and sides of the cake evenly.

Store cake in the fridge until needed, then take out about 30 minutes before serving. Slice, and serve.

Peanut Butter Smore’s Cake

Well, April has flown by. It’s crazy how fast the month passed. It probably helped a bit that in the middle of the month, I had a week off of school for Easter holidays. The week off was fantastic, mainly because Paul and I spent it in Jamaica! It was our six-month-delayed honeymoon.
Ahh, it was fantastic. Sun, sand, and all the jerk chicken we could eat! Paul even brought jerk spices home so he could try to replicate the Jamaican Jerk flavour. It’s smoky and spicy and absolutely delicious. Either way, the day after we got back was Paul’s birthday! We didn’t do too much the day of, just went to brunch with a friend, but I didn’t get a chance to make Paul a birthday cake last week.

THIS week, however, I had some time, and when I asked Paul earlier in the week what he wanted as a birthday cake (I had been asking him regularly for the last month and a half) he said “I’ve had lots of time to think about it, and I’ve decided I want a Peanut Butter Smore’s Cake.” The matter was settled.

I decided to go straight to Pinterest, because I had quite a few pins on my various dessert boards, and settled on this recipe for a Smore’s cake. I did make a few changes of my own, and it turned out FANTASTICALLY. I added peanut butter into the cake batter, which made it a little thicker, but still worked. I also made homemade peanut butter and chocolate marshmallows to use as garnish (those recipes are coming, I promise!). Paul was so excited about the concept I came up with he refused to even try the marshmallows, which were finished first. He said he didn’t want to ruin the whole cake experience.

So, this cake is a peanut butter graham cracker cake, a whipped chocolate ganache filling, homemade marshmallow fluff frosting, chocolate ganache drizzle, and homemade peanut butter and chocolate marshmallows. Of course, I also toasted the marshmallow frosting and the marshmallows on top, because smore’s. I’ll put everything below except for the marshmallow recipes, because I’ll post those a little later.

Okay, I won’t torment you any more. To cake!

Ingredients

Yield: 1 9-inch triple layer cake

For the cake:

2¼ c. flour
2¼ c. graham cracker crumbs
1½ tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. baking soda
1½ tsp. salt
1 c. peanut butter (creamy or crunchy works, I used half and half)
1½ c. butter, at room temperature
1½ c. brown sugar
¾ c. sugar
6 eggs
1½ c. buttermilk
3 tsp. vanilla

For the ganache filling:

12 oz. milk or semi-sweet chocolate
6 oz. heavy whipping cream

For the marshmallow fluff frosting:

1/3 c. water
¾ c. sugar
¾ c. light corn syrup
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
½ tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. vanilla

For the ganache drizzle:

10 oz. milk or semi-sweet chocolate
5 oz. heavy whipping cream

To make the cake, preheat the oven to 350° F. Line cake pans with parchment paper or Miracle Cake Release.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and peanut butter until combined and fluffy. Add the sugars and beat again. Add in the eggs, one at a time, and vanilla, beating after each addition.

Add the flour mixture and the buttermilk in small increments to the wet ingredients, beating after each addition. Begin and end with flour additions. Beat to combine, but do not overmix. Separate the batter evenly between the prepared pans, and bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Remove from oven and let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing from pan and cooling completely.

To make the whipped ganache filling, chop chocolate and place into a heat-proof bowl. Heat the cream, on the stovetop or in the microwave, until hot, but not boiling or scalded. Pour the cream over the chocolate, let stand for 2-3 minutes, then whisk together into a smooth consistency.

Place the ganache in the refrigerator until cooled and thickened, but still soft. Transfer to a mixer bowl fitted with a whisk attachment, and whip until the ganache gets fluffy and lightens in colour, about 2 minutes.

To make the marshmallow fluff, combine the water, sugar, and corn syrup in a saucepan with a candy thermometer attached. Whisk to combine, and heat over medium-high heat. Do not stir the mixture any more.

In a completely grease-free mixer bowl with the whisk attachment, place the egg whites and cream of tartar. When the sugar syrup reaches 225° F, start whipping the egg whites to soft peaks.

When the sugar syrup reaches 240° F, take it off the heat and slowly start adding it to the egg whites in a thin, steady stream. Once all of the syrup is added to the egg whites, turn the mixer to medium-high and continue whipping.

Continue to whip for 7-8 minutes, or until the mixture looks stiff and glossy. Add the vanilla and whip until the fluff has cooled.

 

To assemble the cake, trim all uneven edges or tops to flat layers.

Place one layer of cake on a cake stand, then top with half of the whipped chocolate ganache. Spread the ganache evenly, then top with the second layer of cake. Cover the second cake layer with the rest of the chocolate ganache, and spread evenly. Top with third layer of cake. Put in the refrigerator for the ganache to firm up.

Once the whipped chocolate ganache is firm, spread the marshmallow fluff over the top and sides of the cake. It is okay if it looks messy, because it will be topped with more chocolate and torched.

After the marshmallow fluff is on the cake, torch the fluff with a brulee torch so it looks toasted.

Drizzle the chocolate ganache sauce over top of the marshmallow fluff, and top with chocolate and peanut butter marshmallows for garnish. Toast the marshmallow garnish if desired.

Red Wine Chocolate Cake

Okay. I haven’t made a cake in a long time, and I did so because two of my beautiful friends celebrated their birthdays and they are both a big fan of red wine!

I’m not the biggest wine fan myself, so I had a little help in choosing the wine to bake with, but if that is deterring anyone who is like me, and not a huge fan of wine, you can still make this cake! I found that the wine did not overpower the cake at all, and it added a nice flavour.


I found the recipe here, and I am quite pleased with it. I made my own vanilla buttercream instead of the icing suggested (because mascarpone is ridiculously expensive), and I’ve included that in the recipe below. It still worked very well together, but if you like mascarpone, go for it!

Enough chatter. On to cake!

Ingredients

Yield: 1 8-inch cake

For the cake:

¾ c. cocoa powder
1¾ c. flour
1 tsp. espresso powder
1 tsp. salt
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
1½ tsp. baking soda
2 eggs
½ c. vegetable oil
1¾ c. sugar
1 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. red wine – I used Yellow Tail Cabernet Sauvignon

For the frosting:

2 c. butter, at room temperature
3¾c. icing sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
pinch of salt

For the red wine reduction:

1 c. sweet red wine
4 tbsp. sugar

For the cake, preheat oven to 350° F. Brush 3 8-inch cake pans with miracle cake release or line with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the cocoa, flour, espresso powder, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside.

In the bowl of a mixer, combine eggs and oil. Add in sugar, beating to combine, until mixture turns pale. Reduce speed to low, then add in vanilla and milk.

Add in dry ingredients, mix until just combined, then add in wine and combine until smooth.

Divide batter into pans evenly, then bake in preheated oven 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on wire racks completely before icing.

For the red wine reduction, in a small saucepan combine the wine and sugar. Bring to a boil, then continue to simmer on medium-low heat until wine reduces to about ¼ c. It may take about 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature before using on cake.

For the vanilla buttercream frosting, in a mixer bowl fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the butter until light and fluffy. Reduce mixer speed to low, and add the sugar 1 cup at a time. Add vanilla and salt, and beat until smooth and combined.

To assemble cake, place cooled cake layer on a cake stand or board. Top with a generous layer of icing (doesn’t have to be too thick, but should still be there). Place second cake layer, repeat layer of icing, and finish with top layer of cake.

Ice the top and sides of the cake, getting the sides as smooth as possible. The original recipe had a “naked cake” look (meaning scant icing around the sides), and I decided not to do that. Drizzle the red wine reduction over the top of the cake. Slice and serve.