Baked: Mississippi Mud Cake (i.e. a treat you MUST make)

Ever since I told you about my latest obsession, Baked, I haven’t been able to get either of the cookbooks off of my mind. Naturally, I’ve already made four recipes, and plan on making two more this weekend alone. And trust me, I really wish I could have documented what I’ve baked so far better, but the items have been just too good to not gobble up before getting a good photo. Luckily for you, I did manage to photograph one treat, and boy is it a good one. Actually, it probably just so happens to be the favorite thing I’ve made from the cookbooks so far…although, really, I truly have adored them all.

And what have I made so far? The very first day I bought the books, I made the Sweet & Salty Brownies (i.e. fudgy brownie, thin drizzle of decadent, scrumptious, heavenly caramel, then more fudgy brownie layered on, with fleur de sel sprinkled on top). Then, I made the Cowboy Cookies, which are a divine play on chocolate chip cookies: chocolate chunks and pieces of pretzels. These were gone. in. a. flash. And the dough? Don’t even get me started. Next, I made a vanilla cake with a white chocolate frosting. It was so airy and moist, and I kid you not: it can convert hard-core chocoholics to being white chocolate fans.

So while I’m going to share this next recipe with you, and I’ll probably share more with you in the future, I really want need you to get at least one of the two cookbooks, although I highly recommend both.

Okay, seriously, these pictures do not do justice to this masterpiece. Let me talk you through it: Oreo cookie crust, then flourless chocolate cake, then homemade chocolate pudding, and finally, a homemade whipped cream layer. Yes, it’s absolute heaven. And while it may seem like it would be a really heavy dessert, it’s actually really light and airy.

A few quick notes about the process:

  • This may seem like a daunting recipe with its many components. Truth be told, it does take a bit of time to prepare. If you want you can split up the work into different days. I did, however, make it in one day (a weekend, mind you). My suggestion for making it in one day: make the crust and while it’s cooling, mix up the cake; while cake is baking, make the pudding; then, refrigerate the baked cake and pudding (separately, not combined yet!) for at least 3 hours; after chilling, put the pudding on top of the cake, and while that’s chilling for 30 minutes, make the whipped cream. After you top it with whipped cream, you can serve it immediately, or chill it (you store the cake in the fridge).
  • If you taste the cake batter, you may find it has a strong coffee flavor. Don’t let this worry you though (if you’re not a coffee fan), because the flavor will mellow out a lot during baking, and as the cake sits in the fridge for a day or so.
  • The cake calls for espresso powder…if you get either of the Baked cookbooks, this is a worthy ingredient to invest in, as it’s used quite often. It may be a bit tricky to find, but trust me, it’s worth it. (Fleur de Sel is another investment ingredient if you buy the books, although it’s not used in this recipe).
  • If you wanted, the flourless chocolate cake and pudding would both be divine on their own. Seriously, I might make them separately sometime too!

And now, for the recipe:

Mississippi Mud Cake

from Baked: Explorations

Chocolate Cookie Crust:

16 ounces chocolate sandwich cookies (about 35-40 Oreos…just enough in one package to leave a few over for munching on!)

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Flourless Chocolate Cake:

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

6 ounces good-quality dark chocolate (60-70%), chopped

2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder

¼ cup strong coffee, at room temperature

¼ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

6 large eggs, separated, at room temperature

1 cup sugar

Chocolate Pudding:

¾ cup  sugar

½ cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder (use the good stuff…something like Valrhona!)

¼ cup cornstarch

¼ teaspoon salt

4 large egg yolks

2 ½ cups whole milk

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

3 ounces good-quality dark chocolate (60-70%), chopped

Whipped Cream:

1 ¼ cups heavy cream

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

For the crust:

Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray at 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray. Line the bottom with a cut out round piece of parchment paper and spray the parchment paper and sides of pan again (lightly spray, of course!).

Grind the cookies in a food processor. Put the crumbs in a bowl and pour in the melted butter. Mix, and then turn the crumb mixture into the prepared pan, pressing into the bottom and up the sides (leave about ½ inch between the top of the crust and the top of the pan). Make sure the crust is spread out evenly, and then put the pan in the freezer for about 10 minutes.

Bake the crust until it is dry to the touch, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool.

For the cake:

Increase oven temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Using a double boiler, melt the butter and chocolate together. Set aside to cool.

In a small bowl, whisk together the espresso powder, coffee, salt, and vanilla. Set aside.

In a bowl, beat the egg yolks with ½ cup of the sugar until the mixture is light and has pretty much doubled in volume, about 5 minutes. Add the chocolate mixture and beat until combined. Scrape down the sides, and then beat for 5 seconds. Add the coffee mixture and eat until combined. Scrape down the sides and beat for 5 more seconds.

In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until foamy. Increase the speed to high and add the remaining ½ cup sugar. Beat until soft peaks form.

Scoop 1 cup fo the egg whites into the chocolate mixture, and using a rubber spatula, fold gently in. After about 30 seconds, add the remaining egg white and continue folding until almost completely combined. Do not rush the process, and work gently. You don’t want to overmix.

Pour the batter into the cooled crust and bake for 38-42 minutes, un til the cake is set but jiggles slightly. It might not appear to be completely cooked, but that’s okay.

Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely. The center will deflate, but don’t worry – that’s just the way it works, and in the end, you won’t be able to tell!

Tightly wrap the cake and refrigerate it for at least 3 hours, but possibly overnight.

For the pudding:

In a saucepan, whisk the sugar, cocoa, cornstarch, and salt. Add the egg yolks, whisking until combined. The mixture will appear to be a thick paste. Slowly then pour in the milk, constantly whisking.

Over medium heat, bring the mixture to a boil, constantly whisking. You don’t want any burning on the bottom. Boil for about 30 seconds, and then transfer to a medium bowl. You will think that the mixture isn’t thickening, but then, almost like magic, it will thicken!

Transfer the contents to a medium bowl and add the butter, vanilla, and chocolate. Whisk until combined, and whisk for a few more minutes to cool the mixture slightly. Let the pudding stand for 15 minutes at room temperature, and then press a piece of plastic wrap on the surface to prevent a skin from forming as you chill it for at least 3 hours.

For the whipped cream:

Pour the cream into a chilled metal bowl and beat with chilled beaters  until soft peaks form. Sprinkle sugar on, and beat until stiff peaks form.

To assemble:

Pour the pudding on cake, but don’t let it go over the crust. Spread it evenly on. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes. Spread the whipped cream on, unmold the cake, and enjoy this delicacy!

My final advice: Make this cake! Buy the books (head on over to a Borders, where you can get a discount, or to Amazon, where you can buy both books for a discounted price as well!)

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New Obsession: Baked

Borders (bookstore) is closing. What great obsession could come from that? Well, after scoring two cookbooks I’d been eyeing for some time at 25% off, I’ll tell you: an obsession with Baked, a bakery originating in Brooklyn, New York (with locations in South Carolina now too). The books are graphic, eye-catching, and jam-packed with loads of MUST-try recipes. This is not good for my waistline at all…but seriously, you guys, these books are worth buying.

(photos from here and here)

*Having bought the books yesterday, I made the Sweet and Salty Brownies (yuuuum!) and have already planned to make two more recipes within the next week! If I can snap some pictures of the brownies, I’ll be sure to upload ’em!

Grilled Nutella Sandwiches

Do you see the title of this post?! Grilled Nutella Sandwiches? Nutella Sandwiches?! Yep, you read correctly.

The best part about this recipe, besides the taste of course, is the fact that there are no rules! Want to load up on the Nutella? Go ahead! Want to load up on the brown sugar butter coating? Go ahead! Want a HUGE sandwich? Go ahead!

With four measly ingredients, these are an absolute snap to whip up. And you’ll want to.

Please excuse my images – or lack there of. As I’m sure you can relate to, I could barely photograph this puppy before I downed it!

Grilled Nutella Sandwiches

Adapted from Bon Appetit

 

For one serving:

2 slices challah (or another white bread)

1 tablespoon (or so) nutella

1 tablespoon (or so) butter

1/2-1 teaspoon (or so) light brown sugar

Spread the nutella on one slice of bread. Use as much or as little as you like! Put the other slice of bread on top to make a sandwich.

Melt the butter. Add the brown sugar and stir. Using a pastry brush, coat both sides of the sandwich in the brown sugar butter mixture. You may decide to increase (or decrease) the amount of butter and/or the brown sugar…it’s up to you!

Coat a skillet with non-stick spray (or more butter, if you’re feeling indulgant). When it’s hot, put the sandwich in. Press down with a spatula to compress the sandwich. Switch the sides and continue press every once in a while. Cook until both sides are golden brown…or darker, if you wish. After all, there are no rules!

Enjoy!

Super-Duper Yummy Conversion-Worthy Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

I know I’ve mentioned before how I’m just not a big chocolate person. I know, GASP! I guess I shouldn’t mention then how I’m also not a big frosting person (DOUBLE GASP!). But before you lose total faith in me, can I tell you something that will soothe your pain?

I think I’m being converted.

I mean, I’m still not a chocoholic, and I’m even less a frosting person (although cream cheese frosting is. the. best.), but baby steps, right?

And these cookies certainly are helping with the chocolate conversion. They’re not one bit light on the chocolate flavor, but man, I kind of love them.

Tell me they don’t look delicious. I dare you. Okay, admittedly maybe they aren’t going to win a prize for world’s most appealing cookie, but can you still admit they look superb?! And they taste divine. Bonus!

What was that? You want even more incentive to make these? How about the fact that they’re pretty darn easy. Don’t you love cookies because of that?!

Go! Make these for the people in your life who you’re trying to convert to chocoholics. And when you, yourself, gobble them up, I won’t tell anyone. ‘Cause really, they’re that good.

Super-Duper Yummy Conversion-Worthy Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

makes about 20 cookies…so you’ll probably want to double it!

(recipe highly altered from Picky Palette)

Cookies:

½ cup butter
½ cup white sugar
3/8 cup brown sugar
1 eggs
½ teaspoon vanilla
5/8 cups all-purpose flour

2/8 cups bread flour*
5/8 cups cocoa powder (I had a special extra dark on hand, but any kind will do!)
1 tsp. baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cups chocolate chips

sea salt for sprinkling

Drizzle Topping (optional, but highly encouraged):

¼ cup chocolate chips (doesn’t have to be exact)

about ¼-½ teaspoon vegetable oil

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Slowly add egg and vanilla and mix until well combined.

In another, small bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Carefully add to the wet ingredients. Stir in chips.

Roll the dough into balls and place on cookie sheets. Sprinkle the tops with a bit of sea salt (don’t overdo it!). Bake in 350 degree (Fahrenheit) oven for about 10 minutes, until cookies look firm, but not overdone.

As soon as the cookies come out of the oven, put chocolate chips and oil in small, microwave-proof bowl. Melt in microwave until chocolate is just melted.

Using a fork, drizzle the chocolate over the cookies. Make it as artistic as you wish!

Transfer cookies to wire rack to cool completely, and then enjoy the chocolate bliss of these cookies!

*If you don’t have bread flour, don’t sweat it…just substitute by using entirely all-purpose (so 7/8 cup flour total).

Dare-I-Say-Genius-Chocolate-Chip-Cookies-With-Cookie-Dough-Cream-Cheese-Filling

I’d like to give myself a little pat on the back for this one….because I can take credit, can’t I? Afterall, I came up with the idea to mesh two great recipes into one.

Buuuut…back to the title. Genius? Wanna see the proof that I’m not lying? People, these MAY be genius material!

Yep. Maybe you’re not convinced yet. Well, let me show the math it takes to get to the end result. Maybe that’ll help you.

TWO (2) of Alton’s chocolate chip cookies

+

a slathering of cookie dough cream cheese filling

=

ONE (1) perfect Dare-I-Say-Genius-Chocolate-Chip-Cookie-With-Cookie-Dough-Cream-Cheese-Filling (and let me answer the question posed in its name…yes, it’s genius!)

Still not convinced? Maybe some more pictures will do the trick.

Still not convinced? Well, I do have an answer for you. It’s one word – therapist! Seriously, if you aren’t convinced, I don’t know what’s wrong with you (with all due respect!)!

I made these lovely creations for a party Rachel was attending. When she tasted the finished product, she said I had out-down myself. Now that’s a compliment. When Rob tasted them, his eyes nearly rolled back…they were that good! But now I ask you, how could they not be?! I mean, cookie dough lovers rejoice…this recipe is for you!

*As a note, if you really wanted to, you could just make these cookies (if so, don’t freeze-roll-freeze-slice-bake, but rather freeze-scoop-bake). I’d venture to say they’re better than the (Supposedly) Perfect Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies. Actually, I’d say they are. And of course, you could also just make this filling and use it as a dip, as it was originally created to be used for. And if you did either of these options, I’d still respect you. Because they’re perfectly good on their own, of course. But why would you do that when you can combine them?!!?!?!?!? Really, it’s not even a choice, if you ask me. But do as you please (but really?!?!?!?!?!).

Dare-I-Say-Genius-Chocolate-Chip-Cookies-With-Cookie-Dough-Cream-Cheese-Filling

Adapted from Food Network and How Sweet It Is

 

For the cookies:

2 sticks unsalted butter

2 1/4 cups bread flour

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 cup sugar

1 1/4 cups brown sugar

1 egg

1 egg yolk

1 tablespoon milk

1 tablespoon heavy cream

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

For the filling:

½ cup butter

1/3 cup brown sugar

8-oz cream cheese, softened

½ cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¾ cups chocolate chips

Make the cookies: Melt the butter in a heavy-bottom medium saucepan over low heat, swirl the butter to make sure it doesn’t burn. You don’t want to overcook it. Remove from heat. While butter is melting, sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda and set aside.

Pour the melted butter in your main mixing bowl. Add the sugar and brown sugar. Cream the butter and sugars on medium speed. Let sit for a couple of minutes to let the flavors blend. Mix again. Let sit another minute. Add the egg, yolk, milk, heavy cream, and vanilla extract and mix until well combined. Slowly incorporate the flour mixture until thoroughly combined. Mix in the chocolate chips.

Chill the dough in the freezer for about 20 minutes. Take out of the freezer, and using waxed paper to wrap the dough in, form about 1.5 inch logs out of the dough (you will have several logs). Chill in freezer for 15 more minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, meanwhile.

Slice off evenly cut rounds of dough from the logs (if you aren’t using a log, keep it in the freezer). Place on baking sheets and bake until just golden brown (4.5 minutes in convection oven was perfect). Let cool on sheets for several minutes and then transfer to wire racks. Before placing more dough on sheets, let the sheets cool (place in fridge, if you want).

Make filling: Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add brown sugar and whisk until sugar dissolves and mixture starts to bubble. Remove from heat, add vanilla, and let cool a bit.

Cream together cream cheese and powdered sugar until combined. With mixer on low speed, add in brown sugar and butter mixture. Mix until combined.

In food processor, crush chocolate chips slightly (the chips, for the most part, will still hold their shape). Beat crushed chocolate chips into cream cheese mixture.

When cookies are completely cooled (you may refrigerate them to speed up the process), take one cookie and slather on some filling (the amount, my friend, is up to you!). Top with another cookie. Repeat with remaining cookies to make the rest of the sandwiches.

*For the cookies: If you don’t have bread flour, use all-purpose. You can also use 2 tablespoons milk in place of the combination of 1 tablespoon milk and 1 tablespoon heavy cream if need be.

Enjoy these genius cookie creations!

Nutella Chocolate Chip Cookies

Mmm….Nutella. How can you not love it?! So, in a desire to whip up some cookies for a friend’s birthday, I googled “Nutella cookies.” To a bit of my surprise, I was given tons of choices! I don’t know why it took so long for me to search for a Nutella cookie recipe…I mean, really! But anyway, I settled on a recipe, and made the cookies.

And, uh, I should mention these are by no means the world’s best photos. I was just trying to quickly snap a few pictures, and admittedly, I didn’t have the best lighting. Oops. Sorry.

The Details:

The Process: Not difficult…pretty much just an average process for making cookies.

The Verdict: Well, to be honest, it’s hard to give a final verdict. I definitely stole quite a few tastes of the dough, and man, it was good! However, I only had a taste of half of a finished cookie (Rob had the other half), because I wanted to give as many as  I could to the friend whose birthday it was. So, yes, I’d say the finished product was good. But….not amazing. Also, these, interestingly enough, have cinnamon.  I would perhaps scale back the amount – or even eliminate it all together in the future. Again though, it’s hard to say whether these feelings about the cookies can be fully trusted considering I did only have half a cookie. The friend, for the record, said they were good. But who knows if she was only being polite!

The idea of Nutella cookies still intrigues me, so it’s something I’ll probably play around with a bit more in the future. I’ll be sure to let you know about it if I do!

You want to try out the recipe for yourself? Please tell me what you think if you do make ’em…I would love to hear!

Nutella Chocolate Chip Cookies

From Lovin’ From the Oven

8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), at room temperature

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup light brown sugar

2/3 cup Nutella (chocolate hazelnut spread)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 large egg

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Mix together flour, cocoa, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside dry ingredients.

Cream together butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in Nutella and vanilla extract. Mix in egg.

Add flour mixture and mix until just incorporated. Add chocolate chips. Chill for at least 1 hour.

Drop tablespoons of dough 2 inches apart onto parchment lined baking sheets. Bake at 350 for about 11 minutes until the edges look set. Cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes then carefully remove to cooling racks.

*Note: I didn’t chill for the full hour, because I was pressed for time. I also didn’t have quite the full amount of Nutella.

Decadent Mosaic Brownie Cheesecake

Are you ready for this?

I don’t know if you are.

I mean, really.

It’s that good.

Seriously.

That good!

And the pictures do not do it justice…not even one bit. But hey, I’ll show you ’em anyway.

So what is this “Decadent Mosaic Brownie Cheesecake?” Well, let’s start with the base. It’s a super thick chocolate wafer crust, filled with cheesecake. But, in the cheesecake filling are 1-inch pieces of brownie. And really delicious brownie pieces, at that. Then, it’s topped with a super dark ganache. If your mouth isn’t watering, there’s something wrong with you.

Madison and Rob loved it. Needless to say, I did too. If you need a dessert to bring to an event this holiday season, look no further – this is the one. If you need a pick-me-up, look no further – this is the one. If you just want to bake, look no further – this is the one. Get the picture? This is a must-try dessert!

(As far as easiness goes, this isn’t a beginners’ recipe, but it’s not too, too difficult. It’s definitely on the more time-consuming side though. I somehow, in a way I’m not quite sure of, misread the amount of eggs in the brownies, and only put one in…when they came out of the oven, I realized my mistake and mixed in the other two and rebaked the brownies for 10 more minutes. They came out perfectly, luckily!)

Decadent Mosaic Brownie Cheesecake
Altered ever so slightly from Smitten Kitchen

Part One: One Bowl Brownies

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter
1 3/4cups sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 13-by-9-inch baking pan.

Microwave chocolate and butter in large microwaveable bowl on high for 2 minutes, or until butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Stir in sugar. Blend in eggs and vanilla. Add flour and salt; mix well. Spread into prepared pan.

Bake 30 to 35 minute or until toothpick inserted in center comes out with fudgy crumbs. (Do not overbake.) Cool in pan on wire rack.

Refrigerate brownies, then cut them into 3/4- to 1-inch squares for use in the cheesecake. You will have extra brownies left over. Add cubes to cake batter as directed below.

Part Two: Crumb Crust

3 cups or 10 ounces chocolate wafers (you could use another chocolate cookie if you want)

10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2/3 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon teaspoon salt

In a food processor, blend the wafers until they are fine crumbs. Add the butter, sugar, and salt and mix well in the food processor. You may have to do the crust in two batches (if so, divide ingredients in half for each batch). Press onto bottom and 1 inch up side of a buttered 24-centimeter springform pan. Fill right away or chill up to 2 hours.

Part Three: Cheesecake

3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup sugar
2 cups brownie cubs (from recipe above)

Make crumb crust as directed above for 24-centimeter cheesecake. Preheat oven to 350°F.

Make filling and bake cake: Beat cream cheese with an electric mixer until fluffy and add eggs, 1 at a time, then vanilla and sugar, beating on low speed until each ingredient is incorporated and scraping down bowl between additions.

Fold brownie cubes in very gently and pour mixture into prepared pan. Put springform pan with crust in a shallow baking pan. Pour filling into crust and bake in baking pan (to catch drips) in middle of oven 45 minutes, or until cake is set 3 inches from edge but center is still slightly wobbly when pan is gently shaken.

When completely cool, top with following glaze.

Part Four: Ganache Glaze

3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, broken up, or 1/2 cup chocolate morsels
2 ounces butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon confectioners sugar

Grind the chocolate into powder in the food processor, scald the butter and cream in a saucepan. With the machine running, pour the hot cream/butter mixture slowly through the feed tube onto the chocolate. Blend until completely smooth, stopping machine to scrape down sides once or twice. Add the extract and sugar and process until smooth. Spread over cheesecake while ganache is still warm. Chill until ready to serve.