Double Dark Chocolate Waffles

Double Dark Chocolate Waffles
The chocolate cravings have gone overboard.  I really blame it in all seriousness on pregnancy.  When I’m not pregnant, chocolate is good and fine, about on par with every other sweet. Not pregnant,  I don’t think about it outside of seeing it, I don’t dream up ways of using it to its maximum potential in breakfast foods, and I don’t think that it’s “needed” to get from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. successfully.  When pregnant…well, all those things suddenly become priorities.  Like on Labor Day, I got up and looked up a basic buttermilk waffle recipe and then thought of the maximum way I could choco-fy it.  And I did.  Yes, I’ve had a similar waffle recipe on this blog before, BUT it wasn’t as good.  These waffles are fluffier, less dense, and the chocolate chips remain melty like a fresh-baked chocolate chip cookie during your entire breakfast.  So.  I’m not sorry for seeming repetitive.  If you’re pregnant, I’ll understand if I get a thank-you note in the mail later this week.
Double Chocolate Buttermilk Waffles
I topped these in three different ways and they were all good: melted butter and powdered sugar – easy, and the most cookie-like experience.  Butter with maple syrup: most waffle-like experience, but I’ve always felt that syrup on a chocolate anything is too much.  Turns out, it’s not.  And three: fresh raspberries all over the suckers.  Chocolate dipped fruit, anyone?  They were all good.  Dress it up, dress it down, this will be your new craving.

Double Chocolate Waffles
Double Dark Chocolate Waffles
makes about 12 Belgian-style waffles

2 cups AP flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups buttermilk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup dark chocolate chips

Heat your waffle iron.  In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients with a whisk until fully incorporated.  In a smaller bowl, whip up the wet ingredients.  Gently whisk the wet into the dry until just combined.  Fold in the chocolate chips.  Cook waffles to the waffle-iron’s suggested time (mine has a handy little light that goes off when they’re done) and keep in a 200 degree oven while you cook the rest to keep them nice and warm and crisp on the outside.  Serve with powdered sugar and melted butter, or whatever.  It really doesn’t matter – it’s all good.

Advertisements

Baking Challenge: Triple Berry Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Triple Berry Cinnamon Swirl Bread
I love a good challenge.  And Joy the Baker gave everyone a wonderful one!  She teamed up with King Arthur Flour (our favorite flour to use and the one Matt uses for all his bread) to create a baking challenge using four different flours from King Arthur’s extensive selection.  Go here to see the contest rules for yourself and be sure and watch the video – it’s so inspirational!  She makes everything look so easy 🙂

Matt chose two and I chose two – a true Family Meal collaboration!  He went first with the Triple Berry Cinnamon Swirl Bread.  It really didn’t seem that difficult for him and the recipe seems pretty forgiving.  I think no matter what your dough looks like when you put it in the pan raw, it’s going to bake up beautifully.  We brought this to our church class this morning and it tasted like one huge cinnamon roll filled with fruit.  In fact, I think if I were to redo this recipe, I would make them into berry cinnamon rolls with an orange icing.  Okay…that sounds awesome.  You heard it here first, folks.  That’s gonna happen.

Go take this challenge and have fun!  Post your pics on Instagram with the hashtag, “#bakingbootcamp”  and enjoy the process!

Triple Berry Bread Uncooked Triple Berry Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Click here for the very helpful recipe with photo tutorials!

 

The Ultimate Dark Chocolate Brownies

The Ultimate Brownie
Just look at them.  Super dense.  Fudgy.  Chewy.  Crisp around the very edges and topped with a square of caramel chocolate so it oozes out when it’s cut.  Simply put: the best brownies you will ever eat.

The Bread Man made these a few years ago when we decided to host a Brownie Battle and invite about 20 of our friends to all bring brownies to taste test and enter into the competition for the Golden Whisk.  Yes, there was a golden whisk trophy.  We are serious about our food battles.  Matt baked these brownies and topped his with dark chocolate toffee bars, which is his favorite combination.  They tied up with another contender for Best Traditional Brownie out of about 20 pans of brownies!  When I went to make them last week, I bought Ghiradelli bars – the individually wrapped ones.  And I bought sea salt caramel (as seen pictured) and sea salt soiree with almonds to place on top of the batter.  Check it out, sinking down into the glossy batter…
Ultimate Brownies
This recipe is super simple and I nearly have it memorized.  We’ve adapted it from a stunning UK recipe and put it in slightly easier steps and terms for everyone.  I hope you make these soon.  If for nothing else than to cry with happiness.  It’ll happen.  And be creative with the type of chocolate bars you put on top!  There’s so many to choose from!  I thought if I were in the mood, a dark chocolate mint bar on top would be good.  Or dark chocolate and strawberry!  The fun thing about going with the individually wrapped bars is that it’s instant perfect portioning for cutting!  Have fun and let me know how you like them!

The Ultimate Dark Chocolate Brownie

The Ultimate Dark Chocolate Brownies
makes about 16 depending on how to slice it 😉

8 oz unsalted butter
8 oz dark chocolate chips (I use Ghiradelli 60%)
10 oz superfine sugar (I used Baker’s Sugar)
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 eggs
pinch of salt
5 oz cake flour
Your favorite chocolate bars for topping (I used these two kinds)

Preheat your oven to 400F.

In a double boiler (or a medium saucepan over low heat filled a couple inches up with water with a big heatproof glass bowl setting on top) melt the butter and chocolate together and stir with a rubber spatula until completely incorporated.  Gently stream in the sugar and whisk constantly until fully incorporated and smooth.  Whisk in the vanilla.  In a separate bowl, crack your eggs and lightly whip them up with a pinch of salt.  Take the bowl off the double boiler (if you haven’t already) and whisk in the eggs until smooth and then add the flour in two batches, stirring well to smooth out as many lumps as possible.

Line a 9×13″ pan with foil and spray with cooking spray.  Pour the brownie batter in the pan and smooth out the surface.  Dot the entire surface with chocolate bars and bake for 20 minutes.  It’s not going to look done, but take that sucker OUT and let it cool COMPLETELY before cutting.  Restrain yourself.  Plan ahead.  Gently lift the foil out of the pan and place the sheet of brownies on a cutting board and cut into squares.  Enjoy your life more than you ever have before. You’re welcome.

Double Dark Chocolate Brownies

 

Homemade Sweet, White Sandwich Bread

Two Loaves of Sweet, White Sandwich Bread Sandwich Bread
This is home.  To smell this bread baking is to realize that everything is going to be alright. One of the blessings of being married to The Bread Man is that he bakes stuff like this.  He started baking this bread a few months ago. The recipe makes two loaves at a time and we can blaze through both in a week.  Perhaps we shouldn’t and in a better world, I’d give a loaf away.  But it makes the perfect toast in the morning, the perfect grilled cheese sandwich at lunch, the perfect cinnamon toast for a snack in the afternoon and the perfect toast with jam for dessert after dinner.  No, we don’t do all those things in one day.  I’m just telling you that you will NEVER tire of this bread.  It stays fresh for so long AND, unlike most homemade breads, this stuff doesn’t get mold for more than a week – on the counter!  It’s perfect.  Sweet, smooth, silky inner texture and a perfectly crisp crust when toasted – not too thick, not too thin.  Your kids won’t even tear off the crust.

Homemade Sandwich Bread
You can see my lack of restraint that in the thirty seconds it took me to cut the slice to put the slices in the toaster, I bit the corner of that cinnamon/sugar slice.  I could NOT help it.  You’ll see why.  This bread is what’s good about being a kid, again.  This bread sings of wholesome goodness and peace and harmony.

1375973_10152292138695169_2128879586_n
I may be going too far.  Just try it out. And start it the night before you want it because I don’t want you to get all fussy when you see that it has to rise in your fridge for 8 hours.  Suck it up – it’s worth it.

Sandwich Loaf

Homemade Sandwich Bread*
makes two, 8″ loaves

9 grams (1 tbs) instant yeast
425 grams (1 3/4 cups, plus 2 tbs) lukewarm whole milk
794 grams (6 1/4 cups) unbleached bread flour
14 grams (2 tsp) salt
78 grams (5 1/2 tbs) sugar
85 grams (6 tbs) vegetable oil or melted, unsalted butter
1 egg (50 grams)

Do Ahead:

Whisk the yeast into the lukewarm milk until dissolved.  Set aside for 1 to 5 minutes.  Combine the flour, salt, sugar, oil, and egg in a mixing bowl, then pour in the milk mixture.  If using a mixer, use the paddle attachment and mix on the lowest speed for 2 minutes.  If mixing by hand (go you) use a large spoon and stir for about 2 minutes.  The dough should be coarse and slightly sticky.

Switch to the dough hook and mix on medium-low speed for 4 to 5 minutes, or knead by hand on a lightly floured work surface for 4 to 5 minutes, until the dough is soft, supple, and tacky but not sticky.

Whichever mixing method you use, knead the dough by hand for 1 minute, then form it into a ball. Place the dough in a clean, lightly oiled bowl, cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight or for up to 4 days. (You can bake the dough in batches over different days if you want and portion the dough into two or more oiled bowls at this stage.)

On Baking Day:

Remove the dough from the refrigerator about 2 1/2 hours before you plan to bake and divide it in half; each piece should weigh about 25 ounces (709 g) which is perfect for 4 1/2 x 8 inch loaf pans.  For a 5 x 9 inch pan, use 28 to 32 ounces of dough.  Shape into sandwich loaves (read method below), then place them in greased loaf pans to rise. Mist the dough with spray oil and cover the pans loosely with plastic wrap or a towel; then let the dough rise at room temperature for about 2 1/2 hours or longer, until it domes about 1 inch above the rims of the pans.

About 15 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 350F.

Bake for 20 minutes, then rotate the pans and bake for another 20 to 30 minutes.  The bread is done when the top is a rich, golden brown, the sides are firm and the loaf sounds hollow if tapped on the bottom and the internal temperature is at least 185F in the center.

Remove from the pans and cool on a wire rack for at least 1 hour before slicing and serving.  I DID exercise restraint, here.  If you cut into them too early, you’ll have gummy bread.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

* from Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Every Day – we love him

 

Shaping the Sandwich Loaves for baking:

To shape a sandwich loaf, flatten the dough into a 5 by 8 inch rectangle.  Working from the 5 inch side of the dough, roll up the length of the dough (like a fat cinnamon roll).  Pinch the final seam closed using your fingertips or the back edge of your hand.  Gently rock the loaf to even it out.  Don’t taper the ends; keep the top surface of the loaf even.  Place the loaf in a greased pan, seam side down, cover, and proof.

Cooking Basics – Salted Caramel Sauce

Salted Caramel Sauce

This week is so busy with all the prep for our fundraiser dinner for Carpenter’s Church!  So, instead of an involved recipe, I decided to give you a simple kitchen basic that I have made about fifteen times in the past twenty-four hours as a topping for the banana bread pudding I’m doing for the dinner tomorrow.

Okay, okay, so maybe this isn’t the most basic kitchen skill to have.  It’s not exactly on par with the humble chicken stock. HOWEVER! It tastes outstanding and you have the ingredients in your house right now.  You could make a batch for ice cream, for brownies, as a topping for a cake or as a totally amazing sweet fondue for bread/fruit/a spoon.  You don’t need a reason.  You could jar this up and give it away as gifts at Christmas or any time.  You could make a few batches and keep them all to yourself – the only thing I know for sure is that if you try this recipe, you WILL be back for more…

Salted Caramel Sauce
makes about a cup

1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup warmed heavy cream (warm it in the microwave for a minute)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste (or extract)
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

In a large saucepan over medium heat, add the sugar and water and stir with a spatula to fully incorporate.  Put a lid on the pot and let it come up to a simmer.  Have you ever read recipes that tell you to brush the sides of your pan with a wet basting brush to keep sugar crystals from forming while making caramel?  No more!  That’s tedious and I don’t like getting my fingers that close to boiling sugar.  The lid creates condensation that drips down and keeps all the sugar in place, instead of creeping up the sides like it will if the lid’s off.

Swirling occasionally while cooking, check for the color.  When it develops a nice golden amber color, remove it from the heat and stir in the heavy cream and vanilla.  This will bubble furiously, but just whisk, whisk, whisk until it calms down.  Add the butter and whisk to incorporate.  Then, add the salt and stir until dissolved.  Let it cool and taste test for salt level.  Store in jars on the counter for a week or in the fridge for a month.

 

Challah French Toast with Caramelized Bananas and Toasted Almonds

Challah French Toast with Caramelized Bananas
So when Matt made Challah a couple weekends ago, the leftover loaf sat on our counter among other homemade rolls he made.  We ate the rolls, but the Challah just sat there, threatening to mold.  So I stuck it in the fridge to prolong its life and waited for the weekend.  Saturday rolled around and I turned that almost-moldy bread into amazing French toast.  Cinnamon, vanilla bean, a touch of almond extract made the batter extra decadent.  I pan fried some bananas and almond slices in a touch of butter and agave nectar and sprinkled them on top.  It was so good and once again, I got the satisfaction of knowing I didn’t let Matt’s bread go to waste!  

Happy Weekend!  
Challah French Toast
Challah French Toast
batter makes enough for about 8-10 slices of thick toast

4 eggs
2/3 cup milk
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
8-10 thick slices of bread – any bread will do, but dense, enriched bread works best
2 bananas, sliced
1/4 cup sliced almonds
Butter for pan
Syrup of your choice – I chose dark amber agave nectar

*Give yourself a 30 minute head start so the bread can soak! Heat your oven to 200F.  

Whisk the eggs, milk, cinnamon and extracts together and pour into a 9×13″ pan.  Arrange the bread till it fills the pan and let it soak on one side for 15 minutes, then flip and let it soak for another 15 minutes, pressing down to soak up more batter.  

Heat a large non-stick skillet or griddle over medium heat and add butter.  When butter starts to bubble, add the slices of bread (work in batches) and cook till golden brown on each side, about 5 minutes per side.  As they finish, put them on a baking sheet and place in the oven to keep warm while you finish the rest.

When you’re done with the toast, wipe the skillet out with a few paper towels and over medium high heat, toast the almonds until brown and fragrant.  Remove and add one tablespoon of butter, a swirl of syrup and the bananas and cook until golden on each side, about 1-2 minutes per side.  Top the toast with almonds and bananas and syrup and serve!

 

Dark Chocolate and Ricotta Pancakes

dark chocolate ricotta pancakes

 

Chocolate or coffee?  Which ingredient controls my mind the most?  Coffee may win out just a hair with its zero-calorie-yet-complex-and-indulgent attribute, but chocolate comes in at a close second.  I received an amazing cookbook for Christmas from Matt.  The Mast Brothers Chocolate cookbook.  It’s stunning.  A voyage in pictures and recipes in the lives of Rick and Michael Mast – two brothers who make and sell chocolate in New York City.  The pictures are dark and stunning and the stories are as wholesome and exciting as the product they sell.  Everything from a sustainable source, every ingredient in their chocolate from a farmer they literally know and have probably had dinner with.  Nothing they do is the easy way out and it’s an amazing way of life to aspire to, and a joy of a book to read through like a novel.

One of the recipes that caught both Matt’s and my eye was the dark chocolate and ricotta pancakes.  I’m usually on the lookout for something special to fix us for breakfast on Saturday and that recipe just jumped off the page.  The picture showed these nearly-burned pancakes (although not burned – just super dark chocolate) and browned butter frothing around the edges.  Sold.  All the recipes in this book (if you can procure some really great chocolate) are simple and straight-forward.  Hardly any recipe takes up more than a paragraph and so it all seems so accessible.  I used Lindt 70%, our favorite dark chocolate that you can actually find in a grocery store.  The results were amazing – your classic chocolate chip pancake bumped up a notch.  Enjoy and take your Saturday morning a bit slower!

Dark Chocolate Ricotta Pancakes*
makes 10-12 small pancakes

3 eggs, separated
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/3 cup whole milk
3 tablespoons sugar
1 pinch kosher salt
2/3 cup AP flour
3 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped
6 tablespoons unsalted butter

In a medium bowl, whisk egg yolks with ricotta cheese, milk, sugar, and salt.  Add flour and chocolate and combine.
In a separate bowl using a handheld mixer, beat egg whites to soft peaks.  Fold the egg whites into the flour-ricotta mixture.

Melt one tablespoon of butter for each batch of pancakes in a large cast iron skillet over medium heat.  Ladle batter onto pan in 4-inch circles.  When the edges brown and batter bubbbles, flip pancakes.  They are pretty messy, so just do your best.

Serve with maple syrup and a cup of black coffee and rejoice.

*adapted from Mast Brothers Chocolate: A Family Cookbook

Candied Apple Pie – a family recipe

slice of candied apple pie

My brother in law, Justin, is pretty amazing with a pie plate.  He’s been known to ship his cherry pies across the country just because someone requested it.  I tasted one the first year he was married to my sister in law, Julie, because he mailed one to us in Tulsa for Thanksgiving since he and Julie couldn’t come and were stuck working in Atlanta.  It was amazing and it made me doubly glad he married into the family. 🙂  He is a man of many talents and you’d never expect this hunter/carpenter/plumber/electrician type guy to be a whiz with baking, but he is!  And he loves it and you can tell.  There’s a pride in what he bakes that can literally be tasted.  Matt and I feel so fortunate that we have two more enthusiastic hands in the kitchen around the holidays in Justin and Julie.  We’re a family centered around the table with forks in hand!

This recipes was one he made over the Christmas break.  He first made a candied cherry pie and followed that up with this candied apple pie, which was so beautiful and rustic, I had to take pics and then, I had to have the recipe after I tasted it – amazing.  I know pie season is over and New Years Resolutions are done, but if you have room in your heart for one more pie this winter, make it this one.

candied apple pie

Candied Apple Pie
makes one, 10″ pie

For the crust:

2 1/2 cups flour
2 sticks of butter, very cold and in small cubes
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1/4 cup ice water, more or less as needed

In a stand mixer, add the first cup and a half of flour, the salt and sugar, and gradually beat in the butter by small handfuls until each addition is pretty well incorporated.  When all the butter has been added, add the last cup of flour and mix slowly to combine.  Add tablespoons of water until the dough just comes together when pressed between your fingers.  Wrap the dough in a plastic bag (I use a bread bag) and flatten out into a disc and let chill for at least 30 minutes.  When ready for the pie, take it out of the fridge and let it warm up a bit on a lightly floured counter space for about ten minutes, and then divide the dough, not exactly in half, but let one half be a bit bigger than the other.  You’ll use the slightly smaller half for the top of the pie.

For the Filling and Assembly:
3-5 lbs Granny Smith apples (or any firm, tart apple), cored, peeled, halved and sliced thin
1 cup brown sugar
1 stick of butter (8 tbs)
1 cup granulated sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 egg white

In a 10″ cast iron skillet melt the butter and add the brown sugar. Stir until brown sugar is dissolved.  Set aside.

Peel and slice the apples (this little gadget is worth buying!). In a large mixing bowl,  stir 1 cup granulated sugar with the cinnamon and mix in the apples. Set aside.

Roll out the bigger of the two pie crusts and lay into the skillet, on top of your brown sugar/butter mixture.  Fill crust with apple mixture.  Roll out the smaller crust over the top and crimp edges and and trim any excess. Cut several single blade-width vent slots. Baste top with lightly whipped egg white then sprinkle with white sugar. Cook at 350 degrees for one hour.

Serve right out of the pan with ice cream or wait a bit for it to cool and the caramel in the bottom will be extra gooey.  It’s up to you.  If the bottom seems to be sticking and won’t come out, simply warm the skillet on a burner over low heat until the caramel melts and you can remove a slice.

Enjoy!

skilled apple pie

Mexican Dark Chocolate Waffles with Cinnamon Whipped Cream

Mexican Chocolate Waffles with Cinnamon Cream

As I was drifting off to sleep after our New Year’s Eve party, I suddenly shouted out, “Mexican chocolate waffles!  Wouldn’t that be great?! And served with cinnamon whipped cream!”  “or dulce de leche,” Matt said.  YES! It was one of those ideas I knew would work.  I had some Mexican chocolate in our pantry that I hadn’t used, yet, and I usually like to think of a fun breakfast when we are all home together.  So New Years Day seemed like the perfect morning for a fun breakfast, laced with chocolate.

It worked as good as it did in my dream-like state at 1:30 a.m.  The chunks of Mexican chocolate gave the waffles a chocolate/spice/sugar grit throughout, and the waffles were crispy and as I brushed them with melted butter, I knew we had a winner.  I’d recommend these for any time you want something a little out of the ordinary.  The girls at the grocery store seemed to think me mad for buying Ibarra brand instead of Nestle’s Abuelita.  I really am not well versed in Mexican chocolate, but next time, I’ll avoid the scorn and buy Abuelita brand.  However, for tasty little chunks in a dark chocolate waffle, Ibarra worked just great 🙂

You can serve these with the simple cinnamon vanilla whipped cream, or like Matt suggested, I think some warmed dulce de leche would be amazing.  Or even some simple chocolate syrup.  No matter what you do, these waffles stand delicious on their own!

Mexican Chocolate Waffles

Mexican Dark Chocolate Waffles with Cinnamon Whipped Cream*
makes about 6-8 small waffles, or 4-6 Belgian

3-1/2 oz AP flour (about 1/2-3/4 cup)
1 oz. (1/4 cup) cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 TBS dark cocoa powder
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup milk
6 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 large egg, separated
1 Tbs. sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup Ibarra Mexican chocolate (half a baking bar), chopped fine

Cinnamon Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy cream
1 TBS cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
1 tsp sugar

Preheat the oven to 200F.

Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl with a whisk and set aside.  In a separate bowl, combine the milks, oil, egg yolk, sugar and vanilla extract and blend well.  In a separate bowl, whip the egg white with a pinch of salt until stiff peaks form.   Set aside.  Mix the wet ingredients into the dry with a few simple stirs, then mix in the chopped chocolate and then gently fold in the egg white until fully incorporated.  Don’t overmix!  The egg white makes these waffles crisp!

Cook the waffles according to your waffle maker directions.  I use a stove-top waffle maker and it takes about 1-2 minutes per side over medium high heat and I use about 1/2 cup waffle batter spread over my waffle iron per batch.

As you bake, place the finished waffles directly on your oven rack to keep crisp and warm until ready to serve.

For the whipped cream: In a tall cup with an immersion blender, or in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, blend the heavy cream, cinnamon, vanilla bean paste and sugar until soft to medium peaks form.  Give a generous dollop per waffle and top with shaved chocolate or cinnamon.  Enjoy!

*base waffle recipe adapted from Fine Cooking

Red Velvet Cake – a family recipe

Red Velvet
This is the best red velvet cake I’ve ever tasted.  In general, I am not a fan of cream cheese frosting.  I feel it overwhelms a cake’s delicate flavors and just makes everything taste like cream cheese.  But on a red velvet cake, it’s the only conceivable option.  In fact, I get rather annoyed when bakeries sell red velvet cupcakes with a generic butter cream frosting.  Who are they kidding?  I feel lucky that I ran across this recipe and even MORE lucky that this recipe originates within my own family!  My sweet mother-in-law, Peggy, is the owner of this amazing cake recipe and the first time I had it, I was rather astonished with how perfect it was.  I guess it was one of those instances where I didn’t know what I was missing until I had something  better.  I didn’t know that all this time, I’d been having sub-par red velvet cakes, but when I tasted hers, I knew instantly this was the only recipe I’d ever use for red velvet, ever again!

You may be a little squeamish about using SO MUCH food coloring in this cake, but my thoughts on that are: 1. How often do you eat red velvet cake, anyway? and 2. You only need a small piece of this two-layer, rich cake to feel happy, anyway, and 3. get over it – it’s red velvet cake.  It’s supposed to be red!  If you still can’t take it, I’m pretty sure that someone out there has invented an organic red food coloring made out of beets – just ask Google and let me know how that goes.

My mother-in-law made this on Christmas Eve and I couldn’t help but feel, in that icy cold weather in northern Oklahoma with a fire going in the background, that this cake was extremely wintery and Christmassy.  We enjoyed it with a cup of coffee and the view of the woods covered in a thick layer of ice outside our window.  An experience to remember!  Merry Belated Christmas Cake to you all, and to all, a good night –

slice of red velvet cake
Red Velvet Cake*
makes a 9″-2 layer cake

2 1/2 cups AP flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tsp cocoa powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 cup whole milk
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tablespoon + 1 tsp white vinegar
1 ounce red food coloring

Preheat oven to 350F.  Spray two, 9″ round baking pans with non stick spray and then line the bottoms with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, add the vinegar to the milk and set aside to curdle.  In a medium bowl, combine dry ingredients with a whisk until fully blended.  In a large mixing bowl, whisk all the wet ingredients except the food coloring until completely incorporated.  Gently fold in the dry ingredients until just combined, then add red food coloring until desired color.  For full-on red velvet awesomeness, add the entire bottle.  Don’t worry, you’re not eating the whole cake by yourself (I don’t think.)

Pour batter into pans and bake for 30-35 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove from oven and let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, and then turn out on a cooling rack and let it cool COMPLETELY before assembling with the icing.

Cream Cheese Icing

16 ounces confectioners’ sugar
1 stick softened butter
1 – 8oz package of cream cheese, room temp
1 tsp vanilla extract

Cream butter and cream cheese and vanilla together until fluffy.  Add confectioner’s sugar in batches until thick and creamy.  Place one round of cake on a serving tray and spread a thick layer of icing on top.  Then, add the second layer and finish icing the whole cake and let it set, if you can, for at least an hour before cutting and serving.

*I’ve never actually seen Peggy make this cake, but I’ve eaten it several times.  Some of the info is my interpretation from her recipe card that was pretty concise.  The cake instructions literally said, “mix all the ingredients together and bake it for 30 min at 350.  So I added some more detailed instructions 🙂 The part about lining the bottoms of the pans with parchment is all me because I’ve learned the hard way, one too many times with my cakes getting stuck to the bottoms of pans.  But Peg, if you see anything that needs changed, let me know!  

Red Velvet Cake