Salted, Malted Chocolate Bundt Cake

This cake came to me in a snow-covered dream. I woke up Sunday knowing I had to do three things: shovel my driveway, take my kids sledding, and bake something. It’s no secret I love to be snowed in; I view it as nature’s permission to let everything go — I don’t stress about it, I don’t complain about it, I just let it all go. Northern Virginia was in the epicenter of the recent “snowzilla” storm. We had historic snowfall and the world shut down for a few days. It was pretty wonderful. I’ll be back at work tomorrow, so while I’m enjoying my last day of snowed in freedom, I thought I’d hop back on the blogging wagon and share this wonderful, easy recipe. No mixer required, and I bet you have most of the ingredients in your pantry.

The malt powder isn’t absolutely necessary — meaning your texture won’t suffer if you leave it out. You’ll still have a delicious, moist chocolate cake — but it’s so, so good. If you grew up drinking malted milkshakes like I did (my dad made/makes the best milkshakes), you might already have a container in your pantry, and if you want a treat, you’ll want to make a special trip to grab some. It’s sold in most grocery stores in the coffee/tea/hot chocolate section usually. You can stir it into cold milk, add it to your favorite cookie recipes, or, of course, make milkshakes with it. It’s nostalgic, old-fashioned, and truly one of my favorite things. My son loves it too, which just makes me so darn happy– have I ever told you how much I love that little guy?

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Salted, Malted Chocolate Bundt Cake

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Credit: Ani Hughes — CookonaWhim.com

For the cake:

  • Non-stick baking spray (I am in love with Baker’s Joy) or butter for the pan
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup malt powder
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup brewed coffee 1/2 cup hot water (you can use all hot water, but I love the richness the coffee gives)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 & 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 & 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

For the chocolate glaze:

  • 1 & 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 4 tablespoons malt powder (plus a pinch or two for sprinkling)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 tablespoons milk (or enough to make a smooth, pourable glaze)
  • a sprinkle of sea salt (maldon flaked sea salt is my favorite, but kosher salt will work just fine)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 10 – 12 cup bundt pan, or spray generously with baking spray. Set aside.
  2. Melt butter in microwave or a small saucepan, remove from heat and add cocoa powder and malt powder. Whisk until smooth. Add coffee/water, eggs, sour cream, and vanilla and whisk again until smooth.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, sugar, baking soda, and baking powder. Add butter mixture and whisk until smooth–this is a loose batter so don’t worry if it looks too thin.
  4. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes—don’t over bake! Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes and then invert onto a large platter or cakestand. Let cool completely before glazing.
  5. While the cake is cooling, make the chocolate glaze. Place all ingredients except salt into a medium bowl and whisk until smooth and a thick ribbon forms when you hold your whisk in the air. You want this pourable, not spreadable.
  6. Generously drizzle the glaze over the cooled cake. Wait 5 minutes for glaze to set a bit and sprinkle with malt powder and sea salt.
  7. Slice and devour

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Sweet and Salty Graham Cracker Toffee

Since this is my second time making these in February (or in two weeks to be more precise), I figured I’d better share the recipe so you can all become addicted, too. I made them first with almonds, and today I made them with pecans. I love them both, but if I had to pick a winner, pecans would take the prize. Either way, they are delicious, and if you don’t like nuts, leave them out altogether.

These really need no introduction. Just look at the pictures, and imagine the taste of salted, caramelized brown sugar with crunchy pecans or almonds and buttery graham crackers.

Yes. You need it. I know.

Sweet and Salty Graham Cracker Toffee

Ingredients:

  • About 14 sheets of graham crackers broken along perforations into 4 pieces each
  • 2 1/2 sticks butter
  • 2 cups brown sugar, light or dark (I used dark)
  • 1 cup slivered almonds or chopped pecans
  • Sea salt

To prepare:

Preheat oven to 350.

Line a rimmed 1/2 sheet pan (18x13x1) with parchment or a non stick silicon baking mat. Cover baking sheet with Graham crackers. Get as many as you can on the sheet in a single layer, breaking some if necessary.

In a saucepan, heat butter and sugar until melted and bubbly. Add nuts.

Pour sugar mixture as evenly as you can over Graham crackers. Carefully (it’s hot!) spread to distribute nuts.

Place in oven and bake for 12 minutes.

Remove from oven and sprinkle with sea salt while still hot.

Let cool for an hour at least, but longer is fine, too. Overnight is even better. (Try to wait that long to eat some. I dare you.)

Break into pieces and enjoy!

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Mini King Cakes for Mardi Gras!

Let the good times roll with these festive little cakes! Surprisingly, even with the Acadian blood I have running through my veins, I have never made a king cake! The cakes have a rich, interesting history: a combination of French, Spanish, and Catholic traditions dating back centuries, they are inarguably a very New Orleans tradition now. I did not include a plastic baby in my recipe, but feel free to add one (or eight) to yours. Click this link to learn more on the tradition.

IMG_8801The photos from this recipe are so colorful, and perfect for the Be Funky photo editing app! Check out my article on Creating Instagram Graphics for your Recipes to see some really fun, creative collages and graphics of my photos, and grab the recipe for these bold little cakes below.

I made my dough from scratch, but this could easily be, and often is, made with store bought, frozen bread dough. (I have some in my freezer right now—you will get no judgment from me). This is a great dough recipe though, very easy to work with.

And, If you want something savory to enjoy for your Mardi Gras celebration, give my Dad’s Chicken and Sausage Gumbo a try!

Mini King Cakes

  • Servings: 8cakes
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

Dough:

(Click Here To View Ingredients)

or use two large loaves of store-bought yeast bread dough, follow thawing instructions on package

Filling:

  • 4 tbs soft butter
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Glaze and topping:

  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • tiny pinch of salt, about 1/8 tsp
  • Purple, green, and gold/yellow sprinkles

Cook first 4 dough ingredients in small saucepan over low heat until butter melts and ingredients are combined. Set aside and cool slightly.

Stir together yeast, 1/4 cup warm water, and 1 tsp sugar in a glass measuring cup or bowl; let stand 5 minutes until yeast foams.

Beat cooled sour cream mixture, yeast mixture, egg, and 1 cup flour in stand mixer with paddle attachment until smooth. Reduce speed to low, add the rest of the flour, and once combined, switch to a dough hook and beat on medium low speed for 10 minutes.

Spray the dough with non-stick spray in the same mixer bowl, turning to coat the bowl and dough. Place bowl in a warm place covered loosely with a clean towel or plastic wrap. Let rise 90 minutes or until dough is doubled in bulk.

Combine all 3 filling ingredients and stir to make a smooth mixture.

Turn dough onto a clean surface, and flatten into a 22- x 12-inch rectangle. Cut the rectangle into 4 even rectangles, about 6 inches by 12 inches each, Spread 1/4 of the butter mixture onto each rectangle in a thin, even layer.

Starting at the wide end, roll the dough toward yourself until you have a long thin log like a jelly roll. Repeat this with the remaining dough. When you have 4 long rolls, cut each on in half and pinch the seams and the ends together to form an oval ring, somewhere between a doughnut and a bagel sized ring. Do this with all 8 pieces of dough and place on parchment lined baking sheets. Cover with plastic wrap that has been lightly sprayed with non-stick spray and let rise for about an hour in a warm place. The best way to check that they are done rising is to give the dough a light poke with your index finger. If the dough springs back, they are not ready. If your finger leaves an indentation that remains, they are ready to bake!

Bake in a preheated 375 oven for 15 minutes until lightly golden brown. Let cool on wire racks while you prepare the glaze. Combine all glaze ingredients in a large measuring cup or bowl. Once cakes have cooled for about 15 minutes, pour glaze over and quickly sprinkle to make a yellow, purple, green pattern. Allow to set and enjoy!

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Valentine’s Day: Nutella and Jam Pie Pops

I am so excited to share this recipe for a few reasons. First, I created it for my first guest blog writing gig with BeFunky.com, an amazing, user-friendly, and really cool photo editing application. All of the photos and collages in this post were edited and created using the app. The collage credit goes to JC Gibbs. She really helped me out this first post, and I am so grateful and lucky to be working with her!  Nutella Jam Pops RecipeNext, it is the first time my little hand model is being featured on my blog—she was very excited to be a part of the process. Look at those hands! Long fingers and short nails like her mama. (and that little freckle… Sigh.)

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And finally, this is just such a cute, fun recipe! My daughter and I had such a fun time creating, baking, sharing, and eating these treats! You can customize the fillings to suit your tastes, change the shapes and sprinkles to suit any holiday or occasion. Have fun and let your little ones help!

Nutella Valentine Pie Pops Recipe

Follow this link to get the recipe and see my first BeFunky blog post!:

Baking Valentine’s Treats With Kids: Nutella & Jam Pops!

Nutella Kids Pie Pops Recipe3

A small drinking glass or two works well for displaying them, or a super cool antique wooden thing-a-ma-jig you picked up at a thrift shop years ago.IMG_8471Happy Valentine’s Day. I hope your day is filled with sweetness and love. And maybe this Crème Brûlée recipe of mine.

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Brown Sugar Peach Cobbler

Happy Fiesta Friday! Last Friday was such a blast and I made SO many new friends. Thank you to Angie at The Novice Gardener for hosting, as well as Hilda at Along the Grapevine and Julianna at Foodie on Board for co-hosting.

This week, we are hosted again by Angie, and our lovely co-hosts are Nancy at Feasting with Friends and Selma at Selma’s Table.

I am just blown away by the group of talented and gracious bloggers into which I’ve been welcomed. It is heartwarming and I can’t stop smiling about it.

You know what else is heartwarming, and tummy warming, and kitchen warming? This peach cobbler I created the other day.

It was a snow day, a disappointingly snowless snow day, but a snow day nonetheless, and I cannot and will not control my baking urges on snow days—something tells me I am not alone in this. It just makes sense; it’s cold outside, why not make the house smell amazing and stay warm inside with something fresh from the oven? So, I started rooting around in the freezer and found two bags of frozen, sliced peaches. This recipe isn’t very different from most cobbler recipes I’ve seen, but I go all brown sugar here. I adore brown sugar, and the combination of vanilla, brown sugar, and peaches just makes so much sense to my taste buds.

I hope you enjoy! (Still warm, with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream on top, if you please.)

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Brown Sugar Peach Cobbler

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

Filling:

  • 2 10-ounce bags frozen, sliced peaches
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter, cut into 8 small pieces

Biscuit Topping:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 egg
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup cream or whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Optional Topping:

  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

To Prepare:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Butter a 2 quart baking dish—Rectangular or oval preferably.

In a large mixing bowl, combine all filling ingredients except butter and toss to combine. Place this mixture into the buttered baking dish and dot the top with the small pieces of butter.

Next, combine the flour, brown sugar, butter, baking powder and salt in a bowl and with a fork or a pastry cutter, mix until the butter is incorporated and you have a crumbly mixture. Stir the milk or cream, egg, and vanilla in a small bowl or measuring cup and add to the dry ingredients. Stir gently with a fork until you have a wet, biscuit dough. Drop this dough in little clumps all over the top of the peaches.

If desired, sprinkle top with the cinnamon-sugar mixture.

Place in preheated oven and bake for 30-40 minutes, until top is nice and brown and the filling is bubbly.

Let sit for about 15 minutes and serve with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, or just a generous splash of cream right over the top.

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Vanilla Bean Scones with a Vanilla Bean Glaze

Happy New Year to you all. In the spirit of resolution making, yesterday I resolved to do two things: Delete my Facebook account and make Vanilla Bean Scones. Odd combination, perhaps, but it just worked out that way. Instead of setting some unreachable, obscure resolution, I went with two pretty much instantly gratifying goals. It worked.

Facebook, for me, was like some weird, grown-up (sort of) popularity contest. Having never been a super popular person, nor cared about being popular, I always had this nagging inner turmoil regarding my Facebook usage. Why do I care how many “likes” I get? Why do I not really know half the people I am “friends” with? I do not want to read personal, often graphic health details; I do not want to read religious or political rants. I found myself posting less and less, and I didn’t want to be one of those weird creepers who has a Facebook account but pretends like they don’t—a little too much like voyeurism for my liking. As much as I really did enjoy certain people’s pictures, posts, and comments, it was such a time suck—sucking time away from what I really want to do: write, cook, read, decide what I want to do with my life!

Anyway, my answer was twofold. Rid my life of Facebook and bake something to get my creative writing juices flowing again. Kitchen therapy fixes almost everything, and what it doesn’t fix it at least soothes for a while, and I needed some soothing. So, I made scones.

I made a version of these scones about a year or so ago after watching Ree Drummond AKA The Pioneer Woman make them on her show. I am wild about vanilla, especially when vanilla beans are involved. When I saw her make these, I knew I had to try them.

They were good—very tasty—but they needed some fiddling. So, I fiddled and came up with this recipe. Much, much better. Still soft and buttery, but not so crumbly they fall apart in the glaze.

And, how appropriate to make scones on Downton Abbey premier day! How very British of me.

Here’s the delicious recipe with step-by-step pictures:

Vanilla Bean Scones with a Vanilla Bean Glaze

Makes 24 scones

Ingredients:

Scones:
2 whole vanilla beans
1 cup heavy cream
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2/3 cups granulated sugar
1 and ½ tablespoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, diced and very cold
1 egg

Glaze:
1 whole vanilla bean
1/2 to ¾ cup milk, start with ½ but you may need the full ¾ cup
5 cups powdered sugar

To Prepare:

For the scones:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Split the vanilla beans in half lengthwise and scrape out all the vanilla seeds inside.
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In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, salt, and vanilla seeds. With a pastry cutter, two butter knives, or your fingers, cut the cold butter into the flour mixture. Keep going until the mixture resembles crumbs.
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Mix the cream with the egg in a large, spouted measuring cup. Pour the cream in slowly while gently stirring the dry ingredients with a fork just until it comes together.
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Turn the dough onto a floured surface and lightly press it together until it forms a rough rectangle. Cut dough in half and stack one half on top of the other, press back into a rough rectangle. Repeat this process one more time. The stacking process creates perfect, flaky layers. I do this same trick when I make biscuits.
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Use your hands or a rolling pin to roll into a rectangle about 12-by-7 inches and 1/2-to-3/4-inches thick. Then cut the rectangle into 12 squares/rectangles.
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Next, cut each square/rectangle in half diagonally, to form two triangles. Transfer to a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake for 17 minutes. The bottoms will just be getting golden, but the tops should still be quite pale.
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Allow to cool completely before glazing.For the glaze:

Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds.Mix the powdered sugar, vanilla seeds, and milk in a large bowl, adding more powdered sugar or milk if necessary to get the right consistency. Stir or whisk until completely smooth and pourable.

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One at a time, carefully dunk each cooled scone in the glaze, turning it over to coat completely. (Your hands are the best tools for this. It’s messy, but so much easier than anything else I’ve tried. So wash your hands and roll up your sleeves.)
Once dunked, transfer to parchment paper. I do this in two steps, because as they sit the glaze will pool up a little. So after about 20 minutes, I carefully transfer the glazed scones to a fresh sheet of parchment so I don’t end up with a thick bottom layer of glaze when they set completely.
Alternatively, you can just dip the tops, or you can use a spoon to zig-zag the glaze over the tops. I go for the total submersion method.
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Enjoy! The vanilla beans really do make these so special. I hope you love them.
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PS: My daughter wanted to help me type; this is her contribution. She typed it all by her little self: “Ava and mommy made scones we had fun.” It’s the truth.

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Old-Fashioned Peach Custard Pie

One of the easiest and most delicious pies you will ever make. The recipe doubles beautifully, so whip up two pies and surprise someone you care about with something peachy like my daughter and I did. We delivered one to my grandparents when they weren’t home—like little pie fairies.

**Prepare crust first, either by pre-baking a store bought crust according to package instructions or use my recipe below. My crust recipe makes enough for two pies; however, the filling recipe is just for one pie—feel free to double it like I did!**

Ingredients:

  • one pre-baked pie crust (recipe below)
  • 3 peaches, peeled and sliced
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • seeds from ½ a vanilla bean, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

To Prepare:

Preheat oven to 400.

Arrange sliced peaches in bottom of pre-baked pie crust in a single layer—slight overlapping is fine.

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Mix together all other ingredients in a bowl until thoroughly combined. You will have a slightly thick, almost peanut butter-like consistency.

Spread this over the peaches, don’t worry if it does not cover every inch, it will even out in the oven.

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Bake for 10 minutes at 400, then reduce temperature to 300 and bake for 50-60 more minutes until the custard is set and the top is lightly browned.

Enjoy at room temperature with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

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Basic Pre-Baked Flaky Pastry Crust

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups AP flour
  • 1 1/2 stick butter (12 tablespoons), very cold and diced into small cubes
  • 1/3 cup shortening, also very cold. I keep mine in the refrigerator, as this is really the only time I use it.
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbs sugar
  • 2 tbs vodka mixed with 4 tbs water, very cold (I learned the vodka trick from America’s Test Kitchen a long, long time ago, and it really makes a difference; however, you can leave it out and just use water.)

To prepare:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place dry ingredients in food processor and pulse to mix. Add cubed butter and shortening and pulse about 12 times until the butter and shortening are mixed throughout. Slowly pour the water/vodka mixture through the lid while pulsing, until the dough begins to clump. Give it one more good, long pulse. Carefully transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead a few times to combine. Divide the dough evenly in half (this makes enough for two one-crust pies). Place each half between parchment or plastic wrap, flatten into a round disk, and chill for 20-30 minutes. Prepare your fruit and custard while it chills.

After chilling, roll one of the disks out on a floured surface until you have about a 12 inch circle, and a thickness of about 1/4 inch. Make sure to keep moving the dough and adding flour while rolling to make sure it isn’t sticking. Carefully place rolled dough into pie plate, easing it into the corners without stretching it too much. Make any kind of decorative edge you want. Refrigerate for 5-10 minutes.

Remove dough from refrigerator, place parchment or aluminum foil directly on top of dough and fill the pie plate with dried beans or pie weights.

Bake for 20 minutes. Carefully remove foil and pie weights, poke holes all over bottom of dough with a fork, and return to the oven for 5-10 more minutes until lightly browned.

Continue with recipe above or use for any pie recipe requiring a pre-baked crust.