Month: November 2012

From Tortes to Torts

You know you’re a bit of a geek when you pair baking and law together to make something tasty. As I may have mentioned before, I started law school back in August. Law school is INTENSE and finals are rapidly approaching, so I will be taking a little hiatus from this blog! I hope to make a few Christmas-related treats after finals finish, but I make no promises.

Wikipedia defines a torte as “a rich, multilayered cake that is filled with buttercreams, mousses, jams, or fruits” and a tort as “a civil wrong.” I combined the two for today’s post!

Because I’ve been consumed with learning about torts (negligence and battery and assault, oh my!), I went the semi-homemade route for this torte. I just don’t have the time or energy to go full-blown homemade. The cake layers are from a box mix but the frosting is homemade chocolate buttercream. Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving and I’ll be back in December!

12-Layer Torte
Print Recipe

For the cake…
2 boxes yellow cake mix
2 cups water
1 cup vegetable oil
8 eggs
2 instant vanilla pudding mixes
12 8″ pie tins (I used the cheap disposable ones from the grocery store – so much easier!)

1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Combine all of the ingredients and mix with an electric mixer until smooth.
3. Spray your disposable pie tins with non-stick spray.
4. Scoop 1/2 cup of batter into each pan and spread out evenly with a knife.
5. Bake each cake (I was able to fit four into my oven at once) for 12-14 minutes. Something to note: because these cakes are THIN, watch them carefully! Oven temperatures may be off, your oven may have hotspots, etc — so watch the cakes to be sure they don’t burn.
6. Remove from oven and allow to cool on wire racks. Repeat the process above until you have 12 thin cakes.

For the chocolate frosting…
Recipe source: Savory Sweet Life

* Note! I made two batches of this frosting, just to be sure I’d have enough to cover the entire cake and all of its layers. I ended up with plenty of extra frosting. You could make a single batch to start with to see how it goes – but be prepared that you may need to make two batches.

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3-1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 Tablespoons milk or heavy cream

1. Cream butter in a mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed. Turn off the mixer. Sift 3 cups powdered sugar and cocoa into the mixing bowl. Turn your mixer on the lowest speed (so the dry ingredients do not blow everywhere) until the sugar and cocoa are absorbed by the butter. Increase mixer speed to medium and add vanilla extract, salt, and milk/cream and beat for 3 minutes. If your frosting needs a more stiff consistency, add a little more sugar. If your frosting needs to be thinned out, add additional milk 1 tablespoon at a time.

2. Stack your cake layers, spreading a thin layer of chocolate frosting between each layer. Once you’ve stacked all 12 layers, frost the outside of the torte and decorate as you please. Here’s what it looked like before frosting the outside:

RIP, Hostess.

In case you haven’t already heard, Hostess is closing up shop and shutting down. I know that Hostess treats are not sophisticated, healthy, or anything close to homemade. In fact, the treats are full of preservatives (but oh, so delicious!) and have a shelf life of 3,498 years (or so it seems). But this does not take away from the fact that many of us grew up with these treats. They were a staple of our childhood and I, for one, am sad to see them go. My grandma used to keep Ho-Hos in her house and that was a special treat that I will forever associated with her. My friend Amber (who runs the fantastic Bluebonnets & Brownies) said something brilliant the other day, “People say time machines don’t exist. I disagree. It’s called food you grew up with.”

Over the summer I made a series of homemade Hostess treats. If you’d like to try any of them, here are the links:
Homemade Hostess Coffee Cakes
Homemade Drake’s Devil Dogs
Homemade Hostess Sno Balls
Homemade Hostess Cupcakes
Homemade Hostess Twinkies

RIP, Hostess.

Turkey Cupcakes

Thanksgiving is exactly one week away! Can you believe it? It’s one of my favorite holidays – a delicious meal, a day filled with football, and the wonderful season of Christmas is rapidly approaching. These cupcakes are perfect if you a) need to make a dessert for your family get-together and b) have left-over candy corn from Halloween!

Turkey Cupcakes
Print Recipe

1 box cake mix (plus required eggs and oil)
2 tubs chocolate frosting
Candy corn and Indian corn
Candy eyes

1. Bake 24 cupcakes according to box directions and allow them to cool completely.
2. Spread a layer of frosting over each cupcake.
3. Pipe a large “blob” of frosting near the front of each cupcake. I used a large Wilton tip for this. If you don’t have a pastry tip, you can snip the corner of a Ziploc bag and use that to pipe the frosting.
4. Place the “eyes” on each blob of frosting. Cut the tip off of a piece of Indian corn and use that for the orange nose. If you don’t have Indian corn, you can use other things! Orange icing, an orange M&M, orange fondant, etc. Be creative! And the nose doesn’t have to be orange – you can use whatever color you’d like if you aren’t using Indian corn.
5. Place 6 to 8 pieces of candy corn into the cupcakes for the feathers of the turkey.

That’s it! Enjoy and I hope you all have a safe, happy, and healthy Thanksgiving.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Rice Krispie Treats

Happy November!! We’re about a week into one of my favorite months and less than two weeks away from Thanksgiving :) I don’t have much to say along with today’s post – because I would be annoyingly redundant if I, yet again, expressed my love for all things peanut butter + chocolate. Y’all know that I’m obsessed. Here’s yet another recipe to add to that category. These bars are incredibly rich, so if you make them, I’d suggest cutting them into teeny tiny little squares.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Rice Krispie Treats
Recipe source:
Print Recipe

1st Layer: Cereal
3 cups Crispy Rice cereal
1/2 of a 10 oz bag of marshmallows
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1/3 cup peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2nd Layer: Peanut Butter Fudge
Peanut Butter Fudge
1/2 cup butter, softenend
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
1-1/4 cup mini peanut butter cups

3rd Layer: Cereal
3 cups Crispy Rice cereal
1/2 of a 10 oz bag of marshmallows
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1/3 cup peanut butter (optional)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

4th Layer: Chocolate Peanut Butter Ganache
1 cup + 2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
2 cups chocolate chips

1. Prep a 9 X 13 pan, or something close to that, by greasing the bottom and sides with butter or a butter spray. [I would actually recommend using a smaller pan, if possible. I had trouble filling the entire 9×13 pan!]
2. 1st Layer: Measure out your 3 cups rice cereal and set aside. In a large microwave safe bowl, put in your marshmallows, butter, peanut butter and vanilla. Melt in the microwave for around 45 seconds, take out…stir…put back in for a few more seconds. Do this until the mixture is smooth. Stir in your rice cereal and dump into pan. Spread it out evenly and press firmly.
3. Peanut Butter Fudge: Measure out powdered sugar and set aside. On the stovetop (or microwave) melt butter and peanut butter until smooth. Remove from heat, add powdered sugar and vanilla and stir until smooth. Dump over 1st layer of cereal and spread evenly. Spread out your mini peanut butter cups and gently press into the fudge.
4. Let the fudge set for a few minutes before you add the next layer of cereal.
5. 3rd Layer: Prepare this layer as you did the first. Only add the peanut butter if you really want a strong peanut butter flavor, which I did. Then pour oven the fudge and spread it evenly and press firmly. Make sure you try to cover up all the peanut butter cups, so that the next layer doesn’t hit the fudge.
6. 4th Layer: On the stovetop, melt peanut butter and chocolate chips until smooth. Stir constantly to avoid the chocolate from burning. Let cool for a few minutes, the pour evenly over the cereal layer and gently shake pan to evenly distribute chocolate.
7. Carefully cover with plastic wrap, and place in the freezer or fridge to firm. Cut into bars and enjoy!

*The yield depends on how small or large you cut the bars.

Neapolitan Cupcakes

My dad gave me two packages of Neapolitan Oreos and I was inspired to make some sort of cupcake out of them. Neapolitan is a near-perfect flavor combination – and it’s also such a pretty color palette! These cupcakes were easy to make and look much more labor intensive than they actually are. I used a box cake mix for these and store-bought frosting. If you have the time to make the cupcakes and frosting from scratch, by all means, do it!

Neapolitan Cupcakes
Recipe source:
Print Recipe

1 box white cake mix, plus required eggs and vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1 tub whipped chocolate icing
1 tub whipped vanilla icing
1 tub whipped strawberry icing
Neapolitan Oreos – you’ll need about 6 of them for twenty-four cupcakes

1. Preheat oven to 350. Line cupcake tins with paper liners.
2. Make cake mix as directed on box for cupcakes, using water, oil and egg whites and adding almond extract and vanilla. Pour half of batter into small bowl; stir in cocoa and 1/2 cup chocolate chips. Divide chocolate batter evenly among muffin cups. Carefully spoon white batter evenly over chocolate batter.
3. Bake as directed on box. Cool 10 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pans to cooling racks. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.
4. Frost cupcakes with a layer of chocolate frosting, white frosting and strawberry frosting. Top with a piece of Neapolitan Oreo — I cut the cookies into quarters and used one quarter of a cookie on each cupcake.

*Makes about 24 cupcakes.
**If you can’t find strawberry frosting in your grocery store, you can buy the Duncan Hines flavor packs (a tub of white icing plus the strawberry flavor pack to add in) or you can skip the strawberry step all together and just tint vanilla frosting pink. The only downside of the second option is that you miss out on the strawberry flavor. But I had a hard time finding the strawberry frosting – had to run to three different stores!