cakes

Coffee Cookie Dough Fudge Cheesecake

Coffee Cookie Dough Fudge Cheesecake



Recipe by: Willow Bird Baking, adapted from Annies’ Eats’ Cappucino Fudge Cheesecake with eggless cookie dough by Family Fun

Yields: one 9-inch cheesecake
Crust Ingredients:
32 chocolate sandwich cookies, finely processed into crumbs (use whole cookies, filling and all)
5 1/3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Small pinch of salt

Ganache Ingredients:
1½ cups heavy cream
20 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped (I combined both)

Filling Ingredients:
3 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoons instant coffee granules
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1½ teaspoons mild-flavored (light) molasses
3 large eggs

Topping Ingredients:
1½ cups sour cream
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Cookie Dough Layer Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
4 to 6 tablespoons water (I used 4)

Directions:
To make the crust, butter a 9-inch springform pan. Combine the chocolate cookie crumbs, melted butter and salt in a small bowl. Toss with a fork to moisten all of the crumbs. Press into a thin layer covering the bottom and sides of the springform pan (at least 3 inches up the sides). I did this using a smooth glass to press crumbs into place.

Bring the cream to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Place the chocolate in a medium bowl. Once the cream reaches a simmer, pour the cream over the chocolate and let stand 1-2 minutes. Whisk in small circles until a smooth ganache has formed. Pour 1.5-2 cups of the ganache over the bottom of the crust. Freeze until the ganache layer is firm, about 30 minutes. Reserve the remaining ganache; cover and let stand at room temperature for later decorating.

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F and position a rack in the middle of the oven. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and sugar on medium-high speed until well blended. Beat in the flour. In a small bowl, combine the coffee granules, vanilla and molasses, stirring until the coffee dissolves. Add to the cream cheese mixture and beat until well incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl between each addition.

Pour the filling over the cold ganache in the crust. Enclose the bottom of the springform pan in tightly wrapped foil and place it in a baking dish. Fill the baking dish with hot water about halfway up the cheesecake pan, careful not to let the moisture touch the cheesecake. Bake until the top is lightly browned, puffed and cracked at the edges, and the center moves only very slightly when the pan is lightly shaken, about 1 hour. Transfer to a wire cooling rack. Cool 15 minutes while preparing the topping (maintaining the oven temperature.)

To make the topping, whisk together the sour cream, sugar and vanilla in a small bowl. Pour the topping over the hot cheesecake, spreading to cover the filling completely. Bake until the topping is set, about 10-15 minutes. Return to the cooling rack and let cool at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Transfer to the refrigerator and let cool at least 3 hours, until completely chilled and set.

To make cookie dough layer, cream together the butter and sugar in a large bowl. Stir in the flour, salt, vanilla and chips. Add the water, one tablespoon at a time, until you have reached a cookie dough consistency. Line a 9-inch cake pan with parchment paper. Spoon the cookie dough into the pan and flatten to an even layer. Freeze the cookie dough layer until ready to use (at least 30 minutes).

To finish, wrap a warm towel around the outside of the springform pan to help loosen the crust from the sides. Carefully remove the springform. Transfer the cake to a serving platter. Turn cookie dough out of cake pan and place layer on top of cheesecake, pressing it gently into place. Place the reserved ganache in a pastry bag fitted with a decorative tip and use to garnish the top of the cake as desired. Chill until the ganache is completely firm, at least 6 hours.




Happy Anniversary, Mike!

A&P Spanish Bar Cake

In case you were wondering: No, I cannot eat all these desserts by myself. First of all, I’d rather not weigh 400 pounds — I just don’t think that’d be a very fun way to live. Secondly, even if I developed some wonderful condition that kept me trim regardless of how much pie I ate, baking is no fun unless you can share it with people you love. For me, one of the most rewarding parts of being a food blogger is watching people enjoy the things I’ve made (that sounds creepy, like I sit and stare at them as they eat, but I’m sure you know what I mean).

One group of folks I love to bake for is Mike’s family. Each Sunday evening we gather at their house for dinner and I bring whatever dessert I’ve whipped up. His mom is a fantastic cook, so the meal is always devoured enthusiastically. Many times I almost don’t think I have room for dessert! I say almost, because y’all know that there is always room for dessert.

Yay, SPRING!!

One reason I love to bake for Mike’s family is because they’re always encouraging — even if the results of my culinary efforts that week are not perfect! Don’t you love the people in your life who take one look at your runny pie and say, “Nevermind, it tastes delicious!” My own family deserves this praise as well, since they were served Coconut Cream Soup for Thanksgiving and ate it with cheerful smiles and compliments. Yep, those kind of folks are the keepers!

Because Mike’s family has been so supportive of my baking, I jumped at the chance this past weekend to create something a little special for them. A couple Sundays ago, Mike’s dad mentioned a cake his dad used to bring home from the old A&P store. The cake was called Spanish Bar Cake, and he described it as a dark brown cake with raisins and a creamy white frosting. I was so excited to recreate the memory that I started googling around that night.

What did I find? Well, first off, Mike’s dad is not the only one by far who wants to recreate the cake! Many online forums had pages of nostalgic posters describing their childhood experiences with the cake. They discussed every facet of their vivid Spanish Bar Cake memories : the color, the texture, the pattern on the frosting, the shape, the packaging . . . ! I also found many copycat recipes that boasted an identical taste and appearance to the original.

Not having tasted Spanish Bar Cake myself, I found it difficult to settle on a recipe! There were a few key disparities I had to evaluate. First, some recipes used cocoa powder, while some were a more traditional spice cake. After asking Mike’s dad to describe the color again, I decided to use the recipe that included the cocoa.

Another difference in the recipes I viewed was the frosting. Some used a standard cream cheese frosting, while others used white buttercream. I chose the latter, though I love cream cheese frosting. I reasoned that if the cakes were not refrigerated and had groove marks in the frosting, chances are the frosting would need to be safe when stored at room temperature and relatively stiff. Hence, buttercream. There were other, smaller decisions to make — things like nuts or no nuts (I chose no nuts), one layer or two (I chose one) — and then I was ready to bake!

One bonus of this cake is how simple it is to make! I must be on an easy cake kick. It’s a two-bowl process (one for the cake and one for the frosting). In a nutshell, you mix the dry ingredients, add the wet, bake, cool, mix the frosting, frost. No fuss.

If you have fond memories of this old A&P cake, bake one up for yourself and enjoy a blast from the past. I’ll add a note tomorrow to let you know how close to the original this recipe is, based on Mike’s dad’s reaction!

UPDATE: Score! Mike’s dad said as soon as it touched his tongue, the memories came flooding back! Apparently this is it, folks! He even said it seemed a bit moister than the original. Hurray!

Spanish Bar Cake



Recipe by: compiled from various internet sources
Yields: one 9 x 13 in. cake

Cake Ingredients:
2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 tablespoon cocoa (I used Dutch process)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon allspice
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 cups applesauce
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups raisins, soaked in warm water until plump and drained

Buttercream Frosting Ingredients:
1 cup white shortening
1 cup butter, softened
8 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (can use clear if you want the frosting to be snow white)
4-6 tablespoons milk for thinning to desired consistency

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a 9 x 13 in. baking pan with cooking spray (or butter and flour). Plump the raisins in warm water (I do this in a measuring cup that I’ll use for wet ingredients later — one less dish to clean).

In a large bowl, whisk all dry ingredients together. Add oil, applesauce, and eggs. Mix well. Add in raisins and stir to combine. Pour batter into prepared pan, rapping 3-4 times on a counter to release trapped air bubbles. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with only a few moist crumbs. Let cake cool completely before frosting.

To prepare frosting, mix all ingredients until well combined. Add more milk if needed for consistency. Frost completely cool cake. Use a fork to rake grooves into the frosting to resemble A&P’s cake presentation.


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Oatmeal Cake with Broiled Icing

It was hard to get my baking accomplished this weekend, but if I could go back and do it all again, I wouldn’t change a thing. I just spent the weekend with 8 of the sweetest 6th graders on the planet. My church holds a youth conference each year called Disciple Now. Students travel to the homes of generous church members to spend two days worshiping God, studying His Word, and having fun. I was a family group leader, responsible for leading the gals through Bible studies and refereeing the occasional pillow fight.

My short time with those bright, silly, beautiful, brilliant young ladies was so rewarding — partly because at first, it didn’t feel like it was going very well. They were exhausted Friday when we arrived home after worship, and were in no state for the Bible study we had planned. Sleepiness, pointed watch-checking, and delirium ensued. I lay in bed that night and reiterated the prayer I’d prayed upon arriving at the event earlier in the afternoon: Lord, I know Your strength is made perfect in my weakness, and right now, I’m feeling very weak! Please come make this work for Your glory.

The next day, I spoke with other group leaders who had experienced that very same moment of brokenness late Friday night. My Bible study leader revealed that she had woken up at 3 am that morning with the urge to pray for us. I’m so thankful for her prayers and the faithfulness of God — because the fantastic time spent with the girls Saturday was not my doing, but His! Apart from wheelbarrow relay races, crabwalking, screaming contests, an obstacle course, and a whole lot of giggling, we had an amazing discussion of what it means to live a “backwards life” for Christ (here is a site where you can download a free copy of the devotional book we worked through on this topic). The girls revealed their hearts — friends they were praying for, their struggles in faith. At one point, we made a list of daring ways to share the gospel (“good news”) of Christ with our loved ones.

I’m adding one to my own personal list — posting the good news on Willow Bird Baking! You are all on my list of “loved ones”! You may not be a believer, but I challenge you to read and consider this message either way, in the spirit of allowing me to share something that’s important to my heart.

The central message of Christianity is this simple truth: we are all sinners, separated from God by our sins. We cannot remedy this by ourselves, but God so loved us that He sent His Son Jesus to live a perfect life and die in our place — paying the price for sin. Jesus was then resurrected to triumph over sin and death. If we confess with our mouth and believe in our heart that Jesus did this for us, we accept His free gift of what Christians call “salvation”: salvation from the price of sin, and an eternal relationship with God, who is a wonderful Father.

If this is the first time you’ve heard or understood what Christ did for you, will you take a moment right now and tell Him you’re accepting His gift? If you’re already a believer, will you take a moment and thank Him again? Lastly, if you’re reading this right now and have questions, please leave me a comment with your email address.

Okay, I know you’re ogling the pictures of the amazing Oatmeal Cake with Broiled Icing and wondering . . . how does Christ relate to Oatmeal Cake? Well, my jam-packed weekend resulted in a rushed baking session on Sunday. I needed a quick and simple recipe that I could make while bleary due to sleep deprivation. I cut calories during the week to splurge on the weekends, so I also wanted a recipe that could be easily devoured before Monday morning. This cake more than fit the bill — especially the easily devoured part!

This recipe is heavenly, y’all (pun intended)! The cake is incredibly moist and delicate, with a mesmerizing blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, and oats. The broiled icing is insane: toasted coconut and pecans bound by a gooey almost-caramely mixture created by the broiled butter and brown sugar. On my Recipe Index, small hearts denote Willow Bird Baking favorites — the recipes I’m over the moon about. This hearty, filling cake has more than earned its heart!

One of the best parts is that it truly is a quick and easy recipe as well. The icing is spread on while the cake is warm, meaning that the entire recipe can be easily accomplished within an hour (not including cooling time). If I got through the entire process without a hitch while half-asleep, caffeinated, sore, and frazzled, it should be a breeze for you! Happy eating!

Oatmeal Cake with Broiled Icing



Recipe by: America’s Test Kitchen*
Yields: one 8-inch square cake (about 9 pieces)

Cake Ingredients:
1 cup (3 ounces) quick-cooking oats (see note)
3/4 cup water , room temperature
3/4 cup (3 3/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed (3 1/2 ounces) light brown sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Broiled Icing Ingredients:
1/4 cup packed (1 3/4 ounces) light brown sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 tablespoons milk
3/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup (2 1/2 ounces) pecans, chopped

Directions:
1. FOR THE CAKE: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Cut two 16-inch lengths aluminum foil and fold both lengthwise to 5-inch widths. Spray 8- by 8-inch metal baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Create a foil sling for the pan: cut two 16-inch lengths of foil and fold them to widths of 5 inches each. Fit foil pieces into baking dish, one overlapping the other, pushing them into corners and up sides of pan; allow excess to overhang pan edges. This creates a sling that will help you remove the cake after baking and cooling. Spray foil lightly with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Combine oats and water in medium bowl and let sit until water is absorbed, about 5 minutes. In another medium bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg together.

3. In bowl of standing mixer, beat butter and sugars on medium speed until combined and mixture has consistency of damp sand, 2 to 4 minutes, scraping down bowl with rubber spatula halfway through mixing. Add egg and vanilla; beat until combined, about 30 seconds. Add flour mixture in 2 additions and mix until just incorporated, about 30 seconds. Add soaked oats and mix until combined, about 15 seconds.

4. Give batter final stir with rubber spatula to make sure thoroughly combined. Transfer batter to prepared pan and lightly tap against counter 3 or 4 times to dislodge any large air bubbles; smooth surface with spatula. Bake cake until toothpick inserted into center comes out with few crumbs attached, 30 to 35 minutes (careful: mine only took 28 minutes), rotating pan halfway through baking. Let cake cool slightly in pan, at least 10 minutes.

5. FOR THE BROILED ICING: While cake cools, adjust oven rack about 9 inches from broiler element and heat broiler. In medium bowl, whisk brown sugar, melted butter, and milk together; stir in coconut and pecans. Spread mixture evenly over warm cake. Broil until topping is bubbling and golden, 3 to 5 minutes.

6. Let cake cool in pan 1 hour. Following illustration 2, transfer cake to serving platter, then discard foil. Cut cake into squares and serve.

*ATK’s notes: Do not use old-fashioned or instant oats for this recipe. Be sure to use a metal baking dish; glass pans are not recommended when broiling. If you have a drawer-style broiler (underneath the oven), position the rack as far as possible from the broiler element and monitor the icing carefully as it cooks in step 5. A vertical sawing motion with a serrated knife works best for cutting through the crunchy icing and tender crumb.




Enjoy!

P.S. Reader comment: “Seriously this is the best cake I have ever baked or eaten. […] I cannot thank you enough for posting this. It is seriously amazing!” Hurray! GO MAKE THIS CAKE!


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Chocolate Sheet Cake

My family and I like to joke that Pioneer Woman stole this recipe from us, since she has such a similar one on her blog. We know it’s not true by any stretch of the imagination, but I think it makes us feel a little smug. We think to ourselves, We had an amazing family recipe that Ree Drummond decided she was going to pilfer! Because it was so awesome, of course! We’ve been robbed by fantastic Pioneer Woman, of all people! Wouldn’t it sound cool to tell people that at dinner parties?

Ahem . . . but, as I mentioned . . . not actually true. In reality, the recipe for this amazing Chocolate Sheet Cake was created by who-knows-who, and was passed around, shared, and adapted to fit into many families’ recipe boxes. Here’s an interesting discussion about the origins of the cake. Several folks on Pioneer Woman’s blog recount where they came across the recipe first: some found it printed in a newspaper decades ago, some grew up eating it in their own kitchens. My family’s recipe was passed on to us by my great aunt, Linda Houts. Bless that woman.

Readers also shared their different names for the cake: Fabulous Sheet Cake, Cowboy Sheet Cake. Beth Moore and some other folks calls their version Texas Sheet Cake — and the flavor is, indeed, big enough for even Texas! As for my family, we always just called ours Chocolate Sheet Cake. But now I’m a little jealous of all those fancy names! I might have to come up with something a little more snappy. What do you think of Majestic Imperial Fantabulous Sheet Cake o’ Love? MIFSCOL for short? Okay, okay, fine . . . we’ll stick with Chocolate Sheet Cake.

But this is one fantabulous cake. It’s simple enough that I made it as a child (repeatedly — as in, any time my mom would hand over the cocoa powder and a spoon). My favorite time- and energy-saving characteristic of this cake is that you don’t have to wait for the cake to cool to pour the rich frosting all over it. So easy and quick!

But it’s not just simple — it’s also delicious enough that I still make it as an adult (wait, what? I’m an adult?!) when I want the absolute best chocolate cake flavor. Don’t you love it when the easiest also happens to be your favorite? The cake is fluffy and extremely moist with a gooey, deep chocolate frosting. I’m telling you . . . something magic happens when you put all these ingredients together, and the product is greater than the sum of its parts!

I’ve devoured this cake in Chocolate Chickie Cake Balls, in the Ice Cream Cupcakes I posted earlier this week, and (of course) all by its lovely lonesome. It’s also the perfect platform for a big ol’ scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. After my discussion of Freezer Tetris last post, I’m sure you’ll believe me when I say that there’s a big ziplock bag of Chocolate Sheet Cake in my freezer right now, just waiting for another fun recipe where I can sneak it in! Once you get a taste, you’ll be looking for any reasons you can find to bake it, too!

Chocolate Sheet Cake



Recipe by: Linda Houts
Yields: one half sheet cake (serves about 12)

Cake Ingredients:
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups sugar
dash salt
1 stick butter
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 tablespoons cocoa
1 cup water
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

Frosting Ingredients:
1 stick butter
4 tablespoons cocoa
6-8 tablespoons milk (as needed for consistency)
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1 lb. confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Whisk flour, baking soda, sugar, and salt together and set aside. Mix butter, vegetable oil, cocoa powder, and water together in a sauce pan and bring to boil. Pour over mixture of dry ingredients. Stir well, then add buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla. Mix to combine. Pour into a half sheet cake pan (12 x 18 in.) sprayed with cooking spray.

Bake at 350 degrees F for about 15 minutes. When a toothpick comes out with just a few moist crumbs, the cake is done. While cake starts to cool, make the frosting. Mix butter, cocoa, and milk and bring to boil. Remove from heat and add confectioner’s sugar, nuts, and vanilla. Stir to combine. Spread over warm cake.


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Clementine Cake

I’m getting really good at u-turns. You can’t make a left turn out of my apartment complex, so a few times a week I’ll find myself sitting at a traffic light, tapping my steering wheel in a bored rhythm, waiting to make my u-turn. If the turn lane light turns red just as I get there, I’m crafty enough to stay in the straight lane for a bit and make a u-turn just up the street. If I time it right, it’s a tad bit faster than waiting for another green arrow. Because that 30 seconds really matters, y’all.

I’m also apparently the queen of the culinary u-turns lately. You remember last week’s shenanigans, right? I wasn’t overwhelmed enough with my two-day Valentine’s dessert recipe, and needed to add, oh, handmade pasta to the mix. Ridiculous.

This week there was another switch, although thankfully not as intense: I was shuffling along, planning to make some personal ice cream cakes when a post showed up in my Google Reader that I could not ignore. Whaaat — a gorgeous citrus cake appears JUST when I’m about to toss out my leftover clementines, which are getting a little squishy? Just like that, my weekend plans slammed on their brakes, put on their turn signal (because unlike the drivers around here, my plans always use their turn signal), and changed direction entirely! Clementine Cake was born!

Mike liked this sweet dessert — but I loved it. It was a beautifully simple, dense, bright citrus cake with that lovely crackling glaze to break your fork into. No fussy frosting, so I found myself cutting slabs of it here and there to eat with my fingers!

I will say the cake itself was a bit dry (I overbaked, which could be the issue), but I had a few tricks up my sleeve to fix that. I poked holes in the cake as it cooled so the glaze would seep into the it when poured. We also served hunks of the cake with a smear of gorgeous clementine curd and a pluff of barely sweetened fresh whipped cream. I can’t recommend this serving suggestion enough — in fact, I’m going to make it a serving command (can I do that?), because the cake and fixins tasted just like a homey creamsicle!

My poor dad has been on a diet for weeks now and this is his “break” weekend. He’s not technically supposed to have cake, but I fixed him up a small slice (I promise I’m not a diet saboteur). He and my little brother both enjoyed it, so I left them a hunk for later. I may also have hidden away a bit in my own fridge! Something about refrigerating fruity baked goods always enhances the flavor, and this cake was no exception.

Clementine Cake



Recipe by: Adapted by Willow Bird Baking, Lick the Bowl Good, and Technicolor Kitchen from Jill Dupleix
Yields: one 9-inch cake

Cake Ingredients:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
4 eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoon grated clementine zest
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons fresh squeezed clementine juice (I needed about 7 clementines total to make the cake and glaze)

Glaze Ingredients:
1 1/2 – 2 cups powdered sugar
4 tablespoons fresh squeezed orange juice
grated clementine zest

Fresh Whipped Cream Ingredients:
2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons icing sugar

Directions:
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. Butter the paper and set aside (I use Wilton’s Cake Release).

Cream the butter and sugar well for several minutes, until it is very pale and thick.

Add the eggs one by one, beating well after each addition, then add the zest. Add the flour, baking powder and salt all at once, and beat well, then slowly add the clementine juice until it is incorporated.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin, and bake for 35-40 minutes – or until an inserted skewer comes out clean (If it starts to brown too much on the top, cover loosely with a sheet of foil.) I baked mine for 40 or 45 minutes, which proved to be too long.

Allow cake to cool in pan for 15-20 minutes on a wire rack. Then invert onto a plate, remove the parchment paper and allow to cool completely before glazing.

To make the icing, stir the clementine juice into the icing sugar until you have the right spreading consistency. Using a skewer, dowel, or toothpick, poke holes through entire cake to allow glaze to seep down into it. Pour the icing onto the cake and spread with a spatula or butter knife, allowing the icing to drip down the sides of the cake.

To make fresh whipped cream, whip cream and icing sugar together until the mixture forms soft peaks. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Leave the icing to set before cutting the cake into wedges or storing in an airtight container. Serve with a smear of clementine curd, and a dollop of fresh whipped cream (and optional candied clementine peel).


Enjoy your citrus squeezin’!


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