Month: February 2012

Giant Donut Cake

It’s February 29th! Happy Leap Year! Let’s celebrate this once-every-four year occurrence with a giant donut cake. I bought these cake pans at Williams-Sonoma a few years ago and decided to finally put them to use. I’m not sure if WS still sells the pan, but if they don’t, I bet you could find one on eBay or Bed Bath and Beyond. I’ve always been a fan of oversized or undersized novelty items. A giant donut? YES PLEASE!

Giant Donut Cake
Recipe source: Williams-Sonoma
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3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1-1/3 cups milk
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 sticks unsalted butter
2 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs, lightly beaten

Chocolate glaze:
5 Tablespoons unsalted butter
4 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
2-1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup hot water

1. Have all the ingredients (except the hot water) at room temperature. Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 350°F. Grease and flour both halves of a giant donut cake pan.
2. To make the cake, over a sheet of waxed paper, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. In a small bowl, combine the milk and vanilla. Set aside.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy and smooth, about 30 seconds. Add the granulated sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs a little at a time, beating well after each addition.
4. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the milk mixture and beginning and ending with the flour. Beat each addition until just incorporated, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
5. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans and tap the pans on the countertop to eliminate any air bubbles. Spread the batter up the sides of each pan so the sides are higher than the center. Bake until the cakes begin to pull away from the sides of the pans and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Transfer the pans to a wire rack and let the cakes cool in the pans for 15 minutes.
6. Set the rack over the cakes, invert the pans onto the rack and lift off the pans. Let the cakes cool completely, at least 2 hours, before assembling and decorating.
7. To assemble, return both halves of the cooled cake to the pans. (This is easily done by placing the pans over the cake halves and inverting the rack onto the pans.) Level the cakes by using a serrated knife to gently saw off the part of each half that rose above the edge of the pan; discard the scraps. Remove the cakes from the pans. Place one cake half, cut side up, on a wire rack set over a baking sheet; place the other half, cut side down, on top.
8. To make the chocolate glaze, fill the bottom pan of a double boiler with 1 inch of water and bring to a simmer over medium heat. In the top pan of the double boiler, combine the butter and chocolate chips and heat until melted, 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and water until combined. Pour the glaze over the cake all at once in one layer and immediately decorate with colored sprinkles. Let the glaze set for 15 minutes before slicing and serving the cake.


King Cake Monkey Bread

Oh, monkey bread, you are perfect. Oooey, gooey, warm, doughy… just perfect. And monkey bread is easy to make! Throw a bunch of stuff in a bundt pan, bake, and you’re done. Anyone know why it’s called monkey bread though?!

Edit: Yes, I know, this isn’t REAL king cake. Yes, I know, this is monkey bread. Yes, I know, I am less of a food blogger because I used refrigerator biscuits. Yes, I know, nothing could be more of a world crisis than making a Mardi Gras-themed treat that isn’t perfectly accurate. Relax, breathe, and be zen, guys. It’s just sugar. :)

King Cake Monkey Bread
Recipe source:
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4 tubes refrigerator biscuits [buy the plain Pillsbury biscuits, not the flaky biscuits! the plain biscuits will come in packs of 4 and the tubes are small]
1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1-3/4 cups sugar, separated
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup evaporated milk
3/4 cup butter

1. Preheat oven to 350F and spray a bundt pan with nonstick spray.
2. Mix the cinnamon with 3/4 cup sugar. Cut each biscuit into 4 pieces and roll in cinnamon sugar mix. Layer in prepared bundt pan.
3. Mix 1 cup sugar, brown sugar, evaporated milk, and butter in saucepan; bring to boil and pour over the biscuits. Bake for 30-45 minutes. [the baking time can really vary; check the pan often to see how things are progressing and remove from oven when all of the biscuit pieces appear to be fully cooked]
4. Remove from oven and allow to cool on the stovetop for a few minutes, then carefully invert onto a plate or cake stand.

For the icing:
4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
Colored sprinkles for decorating

Mix the sugar, cream, and vanilla together. I added a bit more cream to give the frosting a thinner consistency (personal preference — you can definitely leave the frosting thick and as-is! I just wanted more of a glaze). Spread over warm monkey bread and decorate with sprinkles. Serve immediately.

King Cake Knots

Mardi Gras is next week! Get those beads out and fire up the stove to make some jambalaya! A few years ago I made a big, traditional king cake. This year, I wanted something more simple. Pinterest pointed me in the direction of these simple king cake knots, which are made using store-bought refrigerated dough. Check back in the coming days, as I also have a post for king cake monkey bread!

King Cake Knots
Recipe source:
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1 loaf refrigerated french bread dough (I used Pillsbury)
3 Tablespoons butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
1 cup powdered sugar
4 teaspoons milk (may need a bit more to get the right consistency)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Green, yellow, purple decorating sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Unroll French bread dough into a large rectangle, about 16 x 12 inches. Brush the dough lightly with softened butter. Mix together sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over butter.
2. Cut the dough in half lengthwise and then cut crosswise into strips, about 1-1/4 inches wide. Tie each strip into a knot and place on baking sheet. Bake for 25-28 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
3. Mix together powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla. Dip each knot into icing and decorate with sprinkles.

Valentine’s Day Ideas 2012

Valentine’s Day is on Tuesday! Here’s an updated collection of my recommended Valentine’s Day recipes. XOXO.

1. Tootsie Roll Fudge
2. Chocolate Mayonnaise Cupcakes
3. Pink Ombre Cake
4. Razz-Ma-Tazz Bars
5. Pear-Raspberry Heart Pies
6. Mini Cherry Cheesecakes
7. Fudge Brownies
8. Red Velvet Cupcakes
9. Neapolitan Rice Krispie Treats
10. Brownie Bites
11. Buckeye Bites
12. Strawberry Lemon Cheesecake
13. Cherry Chocolate Kisses
14. Conversation Heart Cupcakes
15. Conversation Heart Cookies
16. Black & White Heart Cookies

Conversation Heart Cookies

I usually plan for (and make) holiday treats well in advance — like, months in advance. Welcome to the life of a food blogger! Back in December when I was planning out my projects for Valentine’s Day, I did a Google search for conversation heart cookies. I really dislike the little chalky hearts, but I really love the idea behind them. They are a staple of Valentine’s Day… they are the quintessential representation of sweetness and love. I found these cookies on Annie’s Eats and knew that I wanted to make them.

I used Annie’s recipe for almond sugar cookies and royal icing. I also highly recommend her royal icing tutorial. I just started decorating with royal icing and the delay was because I was intimidated by the process for years. I’m sure most of you can relate.. seeing those super fancy cookies that look as if they take an hour per cookie to decorate. I would say to myself, “there is no way I could do that!” or “who has the time to make such intricate cookies?!” As it turns out, I could do that (so can you!) and most of the cookies really aren’t too labor intensive. There are just a few long blocks of time required for the icing to set.

Check back tomorrow for a Valentine’s Day recipe round up!

Conversation Heart Cookies
Recipe source: Annie’s Eats
Print Recipe

Almond Flavored Sugar Cookies
1 cup butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1 egg, beaten
1-1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon salt
2-1/2 cups sifted flour

Cream butter. Add powdered sugar. Blend in egg, almond extract, vanilla, salt and flour. Chill dough until firm. Roll to ¼” thickness on well-floured surface. Cut with cookie cutters. Place on greased cookie sheets. Bake at 375° for 8-10 min. Cookies should not brown. Frost and decorate when cool. Yield will depend on size of cookies.

White Royal Icing
4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 Tablespoons meringue powder
5 Tablespoons water

Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until the sheen has disappeared and the icing has a matte appearance (about 7-10 minutes). Transfer the contents of the mixing bowl to an air-tight container. This will be the stiffest consistency of the icing, and at this point it is still too stiff to use for decorating. Add water a very small amount at a time and stir by hand until fully incorporated. Continue until the icing has reached a consistency appropriate for piping.

Decorating Instructions:

  • Refer to Annie’s Eats for her post about these cookies, as well as her tutorial on royal icing.