Little Miss Cleaver just turned five in March. (I know, I have no idea how that happened so fast either).
To celebrate such a momentous occasion, we had a big friend birthday party about a week before the actual day. But, in LMC's words, the "real party" was the one with family on her actual birthday. So even though we were solidly cupcaked-out by that point, a cake was still in order. Enter this deeply chocolaty, but petite cake - just enough for the three of us to handle and cute to boot.
There are hundreds of chocolate cake recipes out there, so I'll just say that this one was still really moist after three days at room temperature and I use my blog as my own personal recipe box and I wanted to put this out there so I can remember it for the next birthday.
This recipe will fill any of the following:
- One 9" cake pan
- Two 6" cake pans
- About 10-12 cupcakes
- Or a really thick 6" cake, plus a small ramekin. (which is what I did).
Small and Simple (-ly Delicious) Chocolate Cake
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup plus 3 Tbl unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup salted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbl sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 3 Tbl cold coffee
- 3 Tbl milk
- 4 Tbl salted butter, softened
- 1 1/3 cups powdered sugar
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- up to 3 tbl milk
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Optional (lots of sprinkles to decorate)
Preheat oven to 350 Degrees F. Grease pan(s) and coat with cocoa powder or use liner if making cupcakes.
In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, In a small bowl or large measuring cup, combine coffee, milk, and yogurt.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla to sugar and mix until well combined.
Starting and ending with the flour mix, alternate adding flour mix and yogurt mix to sugar/egg mix, making sure batter is thoroughly combined before each addition.
Scrape batter into prepared pan(s), keeping the distribution as even as possible if using multiple pans.
Bake cake until a tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Start your timer at 20 minutes and check every 3-5 minutes thereafter, cooking times will vary based on which pan you choose.
Cool cake in pan for 10 minutes then invert unton rack to cool completely before frosting.
To make frosting: Beat butter until light and fluffy. Add cocoa and powdered sugar to butter. Add milk a tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency is achieve and then beat in vanilla.
To decorate as shown: Place a large amount pf sprinkles into a pie pan or rimmed baking dish. Frost sides, but not top of cake. Being very careful, tilt the frosted cake into the pie pan and roll until sides are coated with sprinkles. Gently place cake unto serving dish or stand and press sprinkles into the side as needed. Frost top of cake. To make number, print out number of choice in a very large font (I think I used Impact here) in the center of a 5" circle. Cut out number with sharp scissors or an craft knife. Place template gently on top of cake, trying not to stick it to the frosting. Pour sprinkles into your template, mushing them into the frosting gently with you fingers and carefully remove template.
Goes excellently with a glass of milk.
Adapted from Ghirardelli's Grand Fudge Cake (aka the one on the back of the cocoa powder bag).
To print, see button at bottom of post.
Small and Simple (-ly Delicious) Chocolate CakeServes 9 Ingredients: 1 cup all-purpose flour 1/2 cup plus 3 Tbl unsweetened cocoa powder 1/2 tsp baking powder 1/2 tsp baking soda 1/4 tsp salt 1/2 cup salted butter, softened 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbl sugar 1 tsp vanilla 1 large egg 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt 3 Tbl cold coffee 3 Tbl milk Frosting 4 Tbl salted butter, softened 1 1/3 cups powdered sugar 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder up to 3 tbl milk 1/2 tsp vanilla extract 1 1/2 teaspoons salt,
We've fallen in love with the croque monsieur in our household. The croque monsieur, a grilled sandwich featuring ham, Gruyere cheese and béchamel sauce originated in the brasseries of France as a hearty snack or light meal. You can turn the sandwich into a croque madame with the addition of a fired egg on top (health food, this is not). For the Cleaver family, the addition of ham and sauce take the grilled cheese to a dinner-worthy level, so when it came time to come up with a savory pie for my annual pie-luck, rec-creating this sandwich in pie form seemed like a no-brainer.
Typically, I use shortening in my pie crusts for it's ease of use, but for a French inspired recipe, I had to use butter. Instead of fully incorporating the butter into the dough ("the damp sand" look), I suggest leaving a few beads of butter intact, which, when rolled flat into the rounds, leaves pockets of butter to create an almost puff-pastry like crust. Make sure to chill the dough before rolling for maximum flakiness.
Since I originated this recipe for an event were there was 11 pies for 7 people, I went light on the filling. To use as a main dish, simply double the ham and cheese. The béchamel sauce should be sufficient to cover both amounts.
Croque Monsieur Handpies
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 2 sticks unsalted butter (cold)
- 2/3 to 3/4 cup cold water
- 6 oz sliced ham, diced into small pieces*
- 6 oz Gruyere cheese, shredded*
- Fresh parsley (optional)
*filling sized for appetizer portions, for a meal-sized pie, double the filling
- 1 1/4 cup milk
- 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- 1 pinch nutmeg
- 1 pinch pepper
- salt to taste
Preheat oven to 350 Degrees F.
Make crust. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour and salt. Using a pastry cutter or food processor, cut in shortening until mixture mostly resembles damp sand, leaving a few small pea-sized chunks of butter. Add water, a little bit at a time, until dough sticks together. You will want it slightly more elastic than crust for a pan pie. Break dough into two evenly sized pieces, wrap in plastic wrap, and place in refrigerator up to a day in advance.
Make béchamel sauce. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. When butter starts to bubble, add flour and whisk until combined, mixture will be clumpy. Cook flour mixture (roux) for 2 minutes. Slowly add milk, whisking constantly to break up any clumps and prevent scalding for approximately 8 minutes, or until sauce is a thick consistency. Pour into a bowl and set aside to cool.
Make filling. IN a bowl, combine 3/4 of the shredded cheese, the diced ham, and enough béchamel sauce to thoroughly coat the filling.
Line two rimmed cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Remove crust from refrigerator. Cut each ball of dough into four equal pieces. On a well-floured surface, roll each piece of dough into a 7 to 8 inch square. Place dough on cookie sheet. Scoop filling into the center of the square making sure to avoid the edges.
Fold dough over filling, so top portion of crust is about 1/4 inch shy of the edge of the bottom. Fold up bottom crust to meet top crust and pinch/crimp to seal. Slice a few holes in the top to let steam escape. Repeat for remaining pies.
Whisk together 1 egg with 1 Tablespoon water. Brush egg wash generously over pies.
Place cookie sheets in oven and bake for 45-50 minutes, until filling bubbles and crust is golden brown, rotating pans halfway through cooking time.
To serve, sprinkle on remaining shredded cheese. Broil briefly to melt cheese. Sprinkle finely chopped parsley on top (optional) and eat warm.
To store, cool completely on a wire rack, wrap in tin foil and place in refrigerator for up to one week. To reheat for 10-15 minutes in a 350 degree F oven.
To print, see button at bottom of post.
Croque Monsieur HandpiesServes 8 Ingredients: 3 cups all-purpose flour, melted 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 2 sticks unsalted butter, 6 oz sliced ham, 6 ox gruyere cheese, 1 1/4 cup milk, 2 tablespoons flour 2 tablespoons butter nutmeg pepper parsley
I use my annual National Pie Day potluck to expand my pie-making skills. Fueled by a desire to work with white chocolate, I came up with this show-stopping tart with a coconut flour crust, white chocolate mousse filling, and topped with fresh raspberries and a coconut lime streusel, which just happens to be gluten-free.
I'm not gluten-free myself, but I have many friends who are, and the pressed-into-the-pan crust used here is easy for a gluten-free beginner. The coconut flour, with its subtle coconut flavor compliments the bright flavors of the lime and raspberries, even if you aren't gluten -free.
White Chocolate Raspberry Tart with Coconut and Lime (Gluten Free)
- 1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 3/4 cup coconut flour
- 1/2 cup coconut flour
- 1/4 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) melted butter
- Zest and juice of one lime
White Chocolate Mousse
- 7 ounces white chocolate, chopped into very small pieces
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 1/4 cup heavy cream
· 12 oz Fresh Raspberries
Preheat oven to 320 Degree F.
Make crust. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour and salt. In a separate bowl, beat together eggs and melted butter. Combine wet and dry ingredients until a dough forms. Pat dough into a 9” greased pie or tart pan. Prick crust all over with a fork.
Bake crust for 10 minutes, cover edges with foil and bake for another 10-15 minutes until golden brown. Remove crust from oven and cool completely before filling.
Make Streusel. Combine streusel ingredients, adding lime juice until mixture clumps nicely. Spread streusel on a lined cookie sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until evenly browned. Set aside.
Make Mousse. In a saucepan, whisk together 1/4 cup of the cream, eggs yolks and sugar. Cook over medium-low heat for 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly, until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and whisk in chopped chocolate. Strain through a sieve into a bowl and chill until cool.
Beat remaining cream until stiff peaks form. (If doing this by hand, chill your bowl, cream and whisk in the freezer before you start). Stir half the cream into the chocolate mixture, then gently fold the remaining whipped cream in.
Scoop mousse into completely cooled pie crust, cover, and chill at least thirty minutes and up to overnight.
Bring pie out approximately 30 minutes prior to serving. Line top of pie with fresh raspberries and sprinkle streusel on generously (you will use about half the streusel – use the rest to top yogurt, pancakes, etc.) Top pie with grated white chocolate (optional). Serve at room temperature.
To print, see button at bottom of post.
White Chocolate Raspberry Tart with Coconut and Lime (Gluten Free)Serves 8 Ingredients: 1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted 2 eggs 1/4 tsp sea salt 1 1/4 cup coconut flour 1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut 1/3 cup granulated sugar 4 tablespoons salted butter, melted lime 7 oz white chocolate 2 egg yolks 1 1/4 cup heavy creams 12 oz fresh raspberries
I don't know if it's the 4th of July, or summer in Maine, or a week off with family, but this time of year gets almost ridiculously idyllic this time of year.
I bought Mr. Cleaver a pair of chaise lounges for the backyard as a Father's Day gift, and I'm starting to think that this made have been my best gift given to date. My brother and his family visited for 4th of July week, and we spent a good portion of that time, parents and kids all cuddled up on those chaises. I'm generally not great at relaxing, but give me a chaise, a cool drink, and a good magazine and I'm content for hours.
My brother had never been to Maine in the summer before, and my adopted home did a great job of showing why Maine is so wonderful. We had sunshine for days and strawberries warm off the vine; we had seafood feasts and fresh strawberry ice cream; we played candlepin and wiffle-ball in the golden hour. We celebrated Steinbeck's gotcha day and Mr. Cleaver's birthday and Independence Day.
It was a warm, wonderful week and it makes me glad to live in Maine.
Those last precious days of summer.
In reality, our schedule doesn't really change all that much between the seasons, but there's something about the marker of Labor Day weekend that kicks us into gear to finally get to our favorite beach soda fountain and make the trip to the Drive-In movies. Because even if our schedule doesn't change, those things pretty much shut down come September. So we got our ice cream cones and popcorn and wore our glow bracelets and sunscreen for one last summer fling.
And it was fabulous.
It takes a while for summer to arrive in Maine, but is it ever worth the wait.
Strawberries and splash pads and sunshine. Home runs and wading pools and little owl nests. Yes, please, and thank you.
Summer, at least unofficially, has finally come to Maine. Which in these parts means parade season! The Memorial day parade got cancelled on account of rain, but fortunately in our little town the next weekend is Together Days and another parade.
When the parade features marching bands, Shriners in tiny cars, your next door neighbor, and copious amounts of candy, it's a good parade. :)
At lot of people in the area tend to look down on this little former mill town: it's not as hip as Portland, or as posh as Cape, and our realtor famously said "at least it doesn't smell anymore" when we put the city on our short list. People ask me all the time if we're planning to move.
The town's not perfect (putting a highway through the middle of downtown is pretty poor civic planning), but it's a good town filled with good people. It's not fancy, but it suits me and family just fine.
How it is already September? The local schools start back up this week and when I dropped Little Miss Cleaver off at daycare they had changed all the decorations to leaves and pumpkins. Don't get me wrong, I adore Autumn, it's my favorite season, but summer seems to go so darn fast! It doesn't help that it doesn't start feeling like summer until July, but still.
I have kept to my goal of taking more time off this summer and we seem to manage two weekends worth of activity in every one (having a kid that gets up at 5 AM helps there). I took a half-day Thursday and all day Friday off, so we could do this penultimate weekend of summer right.
We took LMC to our favorite beach, which she adored. Splashing in the water, playing in the sand, screaming and running from imaginary lobsters. Mr. Cleaver and I aren't huge beach people, being easily burned, but her joy at it, makes the multiple sunscreen applications and big hats worth it. We lost a sand shovel in the tide and the tide gave it back. We took a beach break for shuffleboard and burgers and ice cream and then returned for more surf and sand angels. The weather was perfect and it was a glorious day.
Sunday, we grabbed a discount pass from our local library (Libraries are awesome!) , LMC picked out her fancy new kitty-cat party dress and we went to the Maine Wildlife Park. We saw all sorts of critters, but if you ask her about it, LMC will tell you all about the turkey that she tried to feed popcorn and that bit her finger and that she told it no more biting. (She's fine, didn't break skin, just scared her.) Both mornings ended with an insta-crash in the car seat and an epic nap at home.
Good summer living if you ask me.
It's just one of those things. When something is so available you never think to take advantage of it, because it's always there. The opposite of the shamrock shake/limited time only effect.
I drive by the Fore River Sanctuary twice daily, it was in the background of my wedding photos. but I never actually hit the trails until a few weeks ago. Truly, I've been missing out.
Mr. Cleaver and I both agreed that we'd need to come back in the Fall, (there's not a lot of shade on the trail, so it gets hot) and maybe LMC will be interested in walking more than just the bridges (so much riding on shoulders!).
We only walked a small portion of the trail (see riding on shoulders comment above), but it was worth it even for that.