Mint Chocolate Chip Cookie Crunch Cake

Mint Chocolate Cookie Crunch Cake

I will admit that December has pretty much been kicking my ass so far. In the balance of work/blog/life/sleep, blogging has been coming in last place. Not to mention the fact that I’m married to a non-Indian person now so I have to think about Christmas and presents and all that stuff more than I normally would. I did, however, have a few minutes to throw together this little cake. And by throw together, I mean I had 2 failed attempts because I tried to rush and ended up leaving out some important ingredients (like eggs) the first couple of times. Remember that whole post about having a relaxed holiday? Yeah, that totally didn’t work. But enough grumbling, let’s talk cake!

The cake recipe is from The Brown Betty Cookbook, which has been sitting unused on my bookshelf for entirely too long. The Chocolate Buttermilk Cake requires 2 egg yolks, which had me wondering what to do with the leftover egg whites. In hindsight, I probably should have used them in the frosting, but that would have been too simple. Plus, I have been stalking Katherine Sabbath’s instagram profile lately, and I love the idea of using meringues as cute little cake toppers.

Aaron loves mint chocolate cake, but he requires that it be paired with mini chocolate chips, so I threw some of those in between the layers. I also had a few Peppermint Jo Jos on hand so I crushed them up and threw some of those in along with some crushed meringue cookies because, why not? It’s a total smorgasbord of minty chocolate chippy cookie crunchy goodness. I didn’t measure how much of each topping I used, but after I tasted the finished product, I wish I had added more. You can add anything you want- crushed candy canes, peppermint bark, etc. And don’t be afraid to use a heavy hand. Texture = good.

Mint Chocolate Cookie Crunch CakeMint Chocolate Cookie Crunch CakeMint Chocolate Cookie Crunch Cake

If you don’t have 7-inch cake pans, you can get 3 shorter 8-inch layers out of this recipe or 2 9-inch layers. Keep in mind that if you use different sized baking pans, you will need to adjust the baking time.

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookie Crunch Cake

Yield: One 3 layer 7-inch cake

Ingredients

    For the Buttermilk Chocolate Cake:
  • 2¼ cups (260 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups (400 grams) granulated sugar
  • ½ cup (60 grams) plus 3 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup (180 ml) buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (240 ml) vegetable oil unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • ¾ (180 ml) cup boiling water
  • For the Mint Meringues:
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) superfine sugar (I took granulated sugar and put it through the food processor)
  • ¼ tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1/4 tsp mint extract
  • a few drops of green gel food coloring
  • For the Mint Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting:
  • 8 large egg whites or 8 ounces (227 grams) liquid egg whites
  • 8 ounces (227 grams) granulated sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 pound (454 grams) unsalted butter, softened but still cool and cut into chunks
  • 2-3 teaspoons mint extract
  • a few drops of green gel food coloring (I used Americolor brand)
  • Toppings:
  • Mini Chocolate Chips
  • Peppermint Jo Jos or Mint Oreos
  • Leftover mint meringues
  • For the Chocolate Glaze:
  • 1/2 cup (90 grams) semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons hot milk

Instructions

    For the Chocolate Buttermilk Cake:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit and grease and line 3 7-inch cake pans with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer) mix together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt on low speed.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together the buttermilk, oil, eggs, egg yolks, and vanilla extract until blended.
  4. Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture in 2 additions and beat on low speed until blended. Turn the mixer up to medium high and beat until smooth.
  5. With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour in ¾ cup boiling water and beat until blended.
  6. Divide the batter equally between the cake pans and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25-28 minutes.
  7. Cool the cakes in the pans on wire racks for 15 minutes.
  8. Turn the cakes out onto wire racks to cool completely.
  9. For the Meringues:
  10. Preheat the oven to 225 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  11. Whip the egg whites with an electric mixer on medium low speed until they are frothy (about 60 seconds).
  12. Add the cream of tartar and turn the mixer up to medium high.
  13. Beat the mixture until it becomes stiff and shiny. (about 90 seconds).
  14. Add about ½ of the sugar, and beat until stiff peaks form. Add the remaining sugar, mint extract, and a few drops of the food coloring and beat until incorporated.
  15. Place a round pastry tip in a decorating bag and fill the bag with the meringue mixture and pipe onto the parchment paper (I made a few in different sizes).
  16. Bake for 1 1/2 hours, or until the cookies are firm, smooth and dry.
  17. Turn the oven off and let the meringues sit the oven for a few more hours or overnight.
  18. After the meringues are completely cooled and dry, use the edible pens to decorate them.
  19. For the Mint Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
  20. Combine the egg whites, sugar, and salt in a bowl (I used the bowl of my stand mixer).
  21. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water. The bowl should not touch the water, nor should the water be at a rolling boil. It's the steam that's going to heat the egg whites, since we don't want scrambled eggs.
  22. Heat the egg white mixture until it reaches 150 degrees fahrenheit (140 is ok for liquid egg whites), whisking frequently so as not to get scrambled eggs.
  23. Remove the bowl from the heat, and whip the egg whites on medium high using the whisk attachment of your stand mixer.
  24. Whip the egg whites until they become fluffy and double in volume. The bowl should be cool to the touch (this will usually take several minutes).
  25. Turn the mixer down to medium low, and add the butter in one chunk at a time, until it has all been incorporated.
  26. If the mixture looks curdled at this point, this is normal. Just keep whipping for a few more minutes until it comes together. If the mixture looks soupy, you can add a few cubes of chilled butter, or stick the whole bowl in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes and then continue beating.
  27. Once the buttercream has become smooth, and the mint extract and food coloring and beat until incorporated.
  28. To Assemble the Cake:
  29. Place one layer of the cake on a7 or 8-inch cake board.
  30. With an offset spatula, spread about 1 cup of the buttercream filling on top of the first layer.
  31. Top with mini chocolate chips, crushed oreos, and crushed meringue cookies.
  32. Repeat this process with the second layer, spreading the remainder of the filling on top.
  33. Place the 3rd layer on top.
  34. Place the cake on a turntable, and apply a thin layer of the chocolate frosting on the sides and the top of the cake to lock in the crumbs.
  35. Let the frosting set up in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
  36. Apply the remainder of the frosting to the sides and top of the cake.
  37. Refrigerate the cake while preparing the glaze.
  38. For the Chocolate Glaze:
  39. In a microwave safe bowl, combine the chocolate chips, butter, and corn syrup.
  40. Microwave on medium power for 30 second intervals and stir after each interval until the mixture is smooth.
  41. Drizzle in the hot milk a little bit at a time until you reach a pourable consistency.
  42. Pour the warm glaze over the top of the cake (the frosting should be cold) and use an offset spatula to even it out.
  43. Top the cake with additional mini chocolate chips, crushed oreos, and meringue cookies.
  44. Serve at room temperature.
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Notes:
Cake recipe adapted from the The Brown Betty Cookbook
Chocolate Glaze adapted from allrecipes.com
Design inspired by Katherine Sabbath

-Since there are a lot of components to this cake, I made it over a period of a few days. I made the cake and the meringues one the first day and kept the cake in an airtight container at room temperature. I frosted the cake the next day, and did the glaze on the 3rd day.

-The glaze on this cake is shiny at room temperature. I was in a hurry to take the pictures and the cake was still cold so the glaze had hardened.

-Don’t forget to wipe down your tools with vinegar before making the meringue cookies and the swiss buttercream. Any traces of grease can cause a weepy meringue.

Raw Pumpkin Cheesecake

Raw Pumpkin Cheesecake

One of the best things about being married and having family close by is hosting Thanksgiving, because even though I don’t eat turkey, I’ve always really loved the holiday. Aaron makes the turkey and I make everything else and get to indulge in foods that my mom always deemed to bland for consumption when I was a kid. When your in-laws aren’t Indian, they don’t feel the need to douse the mashed potatoes in Tobasco and add chili paste to the green beans.

After hosting our first Thanksgiving last year, it was clear that oven space is prime, so not only is a raw pie healthier, it’s more practical. Plus, it is so so easy, and this is the one time of year when easier always wins for me. God knows I cannot be trusted to roll out a pie crust under pressure. I swear pie crust can smell fear, and after the pumpkin pie disaster of 2011, give me a press in pie crust recipe any day.

Raw Pumpkin CheesecakeRaw Pumpkin Cheesecake

This recipe has been a long time coming, mostly because the first time I made this cheesecake and removed it from the pan, the filling completely oozed out the sides and onto the floor. I’ve often said that I have no shame when it comes to desserts, but even I won’t lick cheesecake remains off the ground.

Gloopy cheesecake didn’t keep me down for long, though. I’ve tweaked this recipe a couple of times since then, so not only will it hold it’s shape now, but it will taste so good that even your pumpkin hating hubby will eat it and enjoy it! Ok, I can’t guarantee that, but mine certainly did. If you’re not concerned about the pie being raw, you can roast the pumpkin and use the puree instead of the raw shredded pumpkin. I plan to try it that way for my own Thanksgiving table.

As for the soy lecithin being raw, I’ve done some research and I’m still not 100 percent sure. Apparently sunflower lecithin is raw and a good alternative for those with soy allergies. I’ve never tried it, but I would love to hear your results if you do.

Raw Pumpkin Cheesecake

 

Raw Pumpkin Cheesecake

Serving Size: One 6-inch cheesecake

Ingredients

    For the Crust:
  • 1 cup pitted medjool or deglet dates
  • 1 cup pecans or walnuts
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • For the Filling
  • 1 1/4 cups raw cashews, soaked at least 4 hours or overnight
  • 2 cups shredded butternut squash or pumpkin (the small pie pumpkin, not the carving kind) soaked for 2-3 hours and drained
  • 1/2 cup raw agave nectar
  • 1/4 cup raw nut milk
  • 1/4 cup carrot juice (optional) for color
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil (use refined if you don't want coconut flavor)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons non-GMO soy lecithin
  • For the Coconut Whipped Cream:
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk, refrigerated for at least 24 hours
  • 1 tablespoon raw agave or maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Instructions

    For the Crust:
  1. In a food processor, combine all of the ingredients and process until they come together into a ball. The mixture should be pliable.
  2. Press the mixture into a 6 x 3 inch springform or cheesecake pan and set aside.
  3. For the Filling:
  4. In a high powdered blender, combine the cashews, shredded pumpkin, agave, nut milk, carrot juice, lemon juice, vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt and blend for about 5-10 minutes until completely smooth.
  5. Add the coconut oil and soy lecithin and blend for an additional 15 seconds until smooth (don't over blend here or the coconut oil will start to solidify).
  6. Pour the mixture over the crust and tap the pan against the counter a few times to knock out any air bubbles.
  7. Refrigerate for at least 24 hours before serving.
  8. Top with coconut whipped cream (recipe follows), cinnamon, and pecans.
  9. For the Coconut Whipped Cream:
  10. Open the can of chilled coconut milk and scoop out the hardened cream into a bowl (you can save the coconut water for smoothies).
  11. Using an electric mixer, whip the coconut cream until fluffy.
  12. Add the agave and vanilla and beat to combine.
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-Coconut whipped cream recipe adapted from Oh She Glows.
-I’ve tried several brands of coconut milk, and some separate better than others. I’ve had the best luck with the Thai Kitchen brand.
-If you don’t want to use the carrot juice, you can add an additional 1/4 cup of nut milk to the filling
-I recently swapped out my broken springform pan for a cheesecake pan and found it much easier to use.

Spiced Apple, Walnut, and Goat Cheese Cupcakes

Apple Walnut Goat Cheese Cupcakes

These cupcakes were inspired by pizza. I know that sounds weird, but we like to make our own pizza at home, and Aaron and I both love a pizza that is topped with thinly sliced granny smith apples, toasted walnuts, and big globs of goat cheese. Sounds strange, but it works.

The cupcake epiphany happened as I was drizzling honey on leftover goat cheese and spooning it into my mouth and thinking how good the combo would be as frosting. I wish I could explain to you how much I love this honey goat cheese frosting. Maybe someday in the future, food blogs will offer a tasting feature, but for now, you’ll just have to make it. I think I’m going to start adding goat cheese to all of my cream cheese frostings from now on, because it really adds something special. It would be pretty great on pumpkin, carrot, or even red velvet cupcakes, but I liked the fact that these apple cupcakes were slightly different from the standard cupcake fare.

Since these cupcakes have cream cheese and goat cheese in the frosting, you shouldn’t leave them at room temperature for more than a few hours. However, the frosting doesn’t get too firm in the fridge and the cupcakes don’t dry out too easily, so you don’t need to bring them to room temp before eating them. Instant gratification = :) Most cupcakes are best when they’re fresh, but I actually liked these better on day 2 and even 3. I can’t tell you how long they keep after that, because they disappeared pretty quickly.

Apple Walnut Goat Cheese Cupcakes

As for the sugared walnuts, make sure you separate them while they are cooling on the parchment. Otherwise, you’ll end up with walnut clusters that look kind of antlers. But hey, they’re festive, right?

Spiced Apple, Walnut, and Goat Cheese Cupcakes

Yield: 12 cupcakes

Ingredients

    For the Spiced Apple Cupcakes:
  • 1 cup (125 grams) all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups packed (about 2 small) peeled and coarsely grated tart apples, such as Granny Smith (I pulsed mine in the food processor a few times).
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  • For the Honey Goat Cheese Frosting:
  • 8 ounces (226 grams) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 4 ounces (113 grams) soft goat cheese, at room temperature
  • 4 tablespoons (57 grams) unsalted butter, softened but still cool
  • 1 cup (115 grams) confectioner's sugar
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) honey
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • For the Sugared Walnuts:
  • 1/2 cup toasted walnut halves
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch of salt

Instructions

    For the Spiced Apple Cupcakes:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit and line a cupcake pan with 12 paper lines.
  2. In a large bowl,whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, pepper, and salt.
  3. Add the oil, eggs, and vanilla extract and stir until combined.
  4. Stir in the grated apples and walnuts.
  5. Divide the batter between the 12 paper liners and bake 17-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcakes comes out clean.
  6. Cool completely on wire racks before frosting.
  7. For the Honey Goat Cheese Frosting:
  8. With an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese, goat cheese, and butter on medium speed until fluffy.
  9. Add the confectioner's sugar and beat on low to combine.
  10. Turn up the mixer to medium and beat for an additional 2-3 minutes.
  11. Add the honey and vanilla extract and beat until combined.
  12. Put the frosting into a piping bag fitted with a round tip and pipe the frosting onto each cupcake.
  13. Top each cupcake with a sugared walnut (recipe below).
  14. For the Sugared Walnuts:
  15. In a small skillet, combine the sugar, maple syrup, cinnamon, and salt.
  16. Heat on medium and stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture resembles thick caramel.
  17. Remove from heat and stir in the walnuts.
  18. Spread the mixture onto parchment paper to cool.
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Cupcake recipe adapted from myrecipes.com
Sugared walnut recipe adapted from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World