Favorite Chocolate Bundt Cake

This is one of my favorite chocolate cakes. It's simple, delicious and gets fudgier the second day.

Try it folks.

1 devil's food cake mix
1 5.9 oz box instant chocolate pudding mix
5 eggs
1/2 cup butter, melted
16 oz. sour cream
2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350.
Combine cake and pudding mixes in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add sour cream, melted butter and eggs. Mix until combined. Batter will be very thick. Add in chocolate chips and mix well. If you don't have a stand mixer, or don't want to get it out, this can very easily be mixed by hand. Spoon batter into Bundt pan (coated with cooking spray). Bake 50-55 minutes, or until cake tester inserted in middle comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove from pan and cool completely on wire rack.

Chocolate Waffles with Lorraine's Wickedly Good Hot Fudge Sauce

Remember this virtuous breakfast?

Well today's dish will not be winning any awards for health or nutrition.
But we had Gracie Girl over for dessert today, er, I mean Brunch.

Come on. When you're this cute, you've gotta eat chocolate.

Chocolate Waffles
adapted from the food network

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 whole eggs, beaten
4 T unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
16 ounces buttermilk, room temperature
3/4 cup chocolate chips
Vegetable spray, for waffle iron

Preheat waffle iron according to manufacturer's directions.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. In another bowl beat together the eggs, melted butter and vanilla, and then add the buttermilk. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir in the chocolate chips just until combined. Allow to rest for 5 minutes.

Ladle the recommended amount of waffle batter onto the center of the iron. Close the iron top and cook until the waffle is crispy on both sides and is easily removed from iron. Serve immediately or keep warm in a 200 degree F oven until ready to serve.

Serve with fresh fruit (loads of it, it will help you justify chocolate chips and hot fudge for breakfast), whipped cream or ice cream (we used fat free frozen yogurt...see how healthy we are), and a drizzle of Lorraine's hot fudge.

Hot Fudge

½ cup butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1 can evaporated milk
1 t. vanilla

Melt butter. Add sugar, chips and milk. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil for 8 minutes stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add vanilla.

I've tried several hot fudge recipes, and this is always my favorite. Fabulous on a brownie sundae with vanilla ice cream. Thanks Bush's!

Candied Lemon Cupcakes

I found this recipe in a Donna Hay magazine. It is based in Australia so the butter measurement is metric. I have converted it to the best of my mathematical abilities. Don't be afraid to double check.

125g butter, softened (about 9 T)
3/4 c sugar
1 t vanilla
2 T lemon zest
2 eggs
1 1/4 c flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup milk

candied lemon
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
l lemon, thinly sliced (you make 18 cupcakes, I couldn't get 18 slices from one lemon, so I would recommend two)

lemon icing
4 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup lemon juice (freshly squeezed is best)
2 T boiling water

To make the candied lemon, place the sugar and water in a deep frying pan over low heat and stir to dissolve. Add the lemon slices and cook for 15 minutes or until translucent and candied.

Preheat oven to 325*. Place butter, sugar, vanilla and zest in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat for 10-12 minutes or until light and creamy. Gradually add the eggs and beat well. Add the flour, baking powder and milk and beat until just combined. Spoon into standard size muffin tins lined with cupcake papers. Bake for 15 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean. Cool on wire racks.

To make lemon icing, place powdered sugar, lemon juice and boiling water in a bowl and mix well. Pour over cupcakes and top each with a slice of candied lemon. Set aside until icing is set.

Cyclops Cookies

For my eighth birthday, my grandparents gave me my first cookbook, Better Homes and Gardens Cookies for Kids. Twenty some-odd years later, I still turn to it to make some of my most loved cookies. Some pages are falling out, some are sticky, but whenever I flip through it, I feel like an eight year old again.
Give these peanut-buttery cookies a try. Don't you want to be a kid again?

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (that's the only kind the cyclist will allow in the house)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
2 T milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp baking soda
granulated sugar
30-36 Hershey Kisses, unwrapped

In large mixer bowl, beat butter and peanut butter on medium speed about 30 seconds. Add the sugar and brown sugar and beat until fluffy. Add egg, milk and vanilla. Beat well.
In a medium mixing bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, salt and soda. With mixer on low speed, gradually add flour mixture to peanut butter mixture, beating well.
Cover and chill 1 hour (not completely necessary if you don't have the time, it just makes the dough easier to handle).
Preheat oven to 375*. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in additional sugar. Place about 2 inches apart on un-greased cookie sheets.
Bake for 10-12 minutes or until edges are firm. Immediately press a chocolate kiss atop each cookie. Cool on rack.

French Toast Bites with Blueberry Sauce

From Williams-Sonoma "Cooking Together"

1 pint blueberries
3/4 cup maple syrup
2 T sugar
1 t cinnamon
2 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup milk
1 t vanilla
pinch salt
6 slices country bread or homemade bread cut into 1-inch cubes (we used the cinnamon-swirl variation)
2 T butter

In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the blueberries and maple syrup. Bring to a boil, stirring to prevent scorching, then remove from the heat and set aside to let cool.

In a large bowl, stir together the sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.

In a large shallow bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, milk, vanilla, and salt until blended. Place the bread cubes in the egg mixture and, using a large spoon, toss gently until the cubes are evenly coated and all the egg mixture has been absorbed.

In a large frying pan over medium heat, melt 1 T of the butter. Add half the coated bread cubes and cook, turning often, until golden brown on all sides, about 5 minutes. Transfer the cubes to the bowl holding the cinnamon-sugar and toss to coat. Repeat with the remaining bread cubes and 1 T butter.

Divide the french toast into individual servings and sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon-sugar. Serve with blueberry sauce.

White Bread

I've been looking for a good white bread recipe. You know...the kind that makes your house smell wonderful while it bakes. The kind that makes a great sandwich. The kind that makes fantastic hot buttered toast. I've tried a few recipes and this is my favorite. I adapted this slightly from Tyler Florence of Food Network fame.

1 cup milk
3 tablespoons butter
1 package (1 tablespoon) rapid-rising dry yeast
2 tablespoons sugar or honey
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 egg whites, divided and slightly beaten

1. In a small saucepan, heat the milk with butter over low heat just until the butter melts. Remove from heat and add to the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a dough hook. Let cool 5-7 minutes (I have been hasty and added the yeast too soon and the heat killed it). Proof the yeast by adding it to the warm milk and butter. Add the sugar and stir gently to dissolve. Let stand 3 minutes until foam appears. Turn mixer on low and gradually add the flour. When the dough starts to come together, increase the speed to medium and add the salt and 1 egg white. Mix until the dough is no longer sticky, about 10 minutes.
2. Turn the dough onto the (very lightly floured) work surface and knead for a minute or so by hand. Form the dough into a round and place in an oiled bowl, turn to coat the entire ball with oil. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
3. Once the dough is doubled, turn it out onto the counter. Handle the dough gently, overworking the gluten at this point will produce a dense loaf that is difficult to shape.
To form a loaf, pat the dough into a rectangle, fold the long sides to the middle then fold under the ends. Pinch the seams closed and place in a greased 9 by 5-inch loaf pan, seam side down. Make sure the dough touches all sides of the pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise a second time for 20 minutes or until the top of the dough is nearly level with the top of the loaf pan.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, place a large pan on the bottom rack of the oven. Bring 3 cups water to a boil on the stove. Pour the hot water into the preheated pan to create a steam bath for the bread. This will make a crisp crust.
4. Slash dough down the middle of the loaf with a sharp knife to allow the steam to escape during baking. Brush the top with remaining beaten egg white. Bake the bread for 30 to 40 minutes until crust is golden. The bottom of the loaf should sound hollow when tapped. Immediately remove the bread from the pan and cool completely on a rack.

* Variation: To make Cinnamon Swirl Bread: after the first rise, press the dough out to a rectangle, sprinkle surface with cinnamon to cover. Roll up like a jellyroll, pinch the seams closed and continue as directed in the recipe.

Soft Pretzels

Last Monday, while skimming through my new favorite magazine, my second born and I stumbled upon this recipe. I told her we could make them over the weekend. We couldn't wait. We ended up having them as an appetizer for Tuesday dinner.
They were simple to make and tasted delicious. Our only problem (and I use that word loosely) was that we couldn't get the dough to stretch into 30 inch ropes. We stretched it as much as we could and then formed the pretzels. They shrunk a bit in the oven, and as you can see, ours ended up pretty squat and round. We actually think it made them even better. You know how the middle of the cinnamon roll is the best? So is the middle of the pretzel!

For the Pretzels:

* 1 cup milk
* 1 package active dry yeast
* 3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
* 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
* 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing
* 1 teaspoon fine salt
* 1/3 cup baking soda
* 2 tablespoons coarse salt

For the Sauce:

* 1/4 cup mayonnaise
* 1/4 cup dijon mustard
* 3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
* 1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar


Make the pretzels: Warm the milk in a saucepan until it's about 110 degrees; pour into a medium bowl and sprinkle in the yeast. Let the yeast soften, about 2 minutes; stir in the brown sugar and 1 cup flour with a wooden spoon. Dice 2 tablespoons butter and soften; stir into the mix. Add the remaining 1 1/4 cups flour and the fine salt to make a sticky dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead, adding more flour if needed, until smooth but still slightly tacky, about 5 minutes. Shape into a ball, place in a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and grease a large baking sheet. Punch the dough to deflate it, then turn out onto a lightly floured surface. (If the dough seems tight, cover and let rest until it relaxes.) Divide the dough into 6 pieces. Roll and stretch each piece with the palms of your hands into a 30-inch rope, holding the ends and slapping the middle of the rope on the counter as you stretch. Form each rope into a pretzel shape.

Dissolve the baking soda in 3 cups warm water in a shallow baking dish. Gently dip each pretzel in the soda solution, then arrange on the prepared baking sheet and sprinkle with the coarse salt. Bake until golden, 10 to 12 minutes.

Prepare the sauce: Combine the mayonnaise, mustard, brown sugar and vinegar in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate.

Melt the remaining 8 tablespoons butter in a shallow dish. Dip the hot pretzels in the butter, turning to coat; place on a wire rack to let excess butter drip off. Serve the pretzels warm with the sweet mustard sauce.