Monthly Archives: April 2017

Almond Raspberry Cake

almond-raspberry-cake-2bYou guys know I prefer my baking to be as easy as possible.

I rarely do any kind of decorating. I have no patience for piping bags. I only use cookie cutters occasionally. And if something requires more than 2 mixing bowls, well, it’s not the recipe for me.

Of course, the downside of that kind of baking is that sometimes you want to make something special and beautiful and extra nice. For me, it was this spring almond cake. I wanted it to be different than my usual fare. I was willing to take extra steps.

So no, this is not a box mix, it is made from scratch. But it honestly wasn’t complicated or difficult, and because I kept the frosting really simple, it looks beautiful even without any decorating skills. Which is a real bonus for me.

I have no decorating skills.

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If you’re like me and don’t want to pipe some fancy frosting onto a cake, you can always count on fresh berries to make a plain old cake look beautiful.

Or, in this case, raspberries and sliced almonds.

It’s such an easy way to decorate. And it gives the cake a fresh, spring look to it, which is exactly what I was going for.

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To keep the filling simple, I used raspberry jam. I just softened it up in the microwave for a few seconds, and stirred in a little almond extract. I spread the warm filling on the cake, and tried not to overdo it.

After all, the cake is the star here, not the filling.

Actually, it’s the almond flavor that’s the star. The raspberries are like the sub-plot. They keep it interesting and give some diversity, but beautiful, delicious almond is the diva.

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Since it’s the Easter season and all, I paired the cake with a vase full of orange tulips and a little vanilla ice cream.

And some sunshine. And Easter candy. And lots of family.

It really made for a lovely Sunday afternoon.

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Almond Raspberry Cake

An almond flavored cake with raspberry filling and vanilla frosting.

Cook Time 35 minutes
Servings 12 slices
Author Jen @ Jen's Favorite Cookies

Ingredients

For Cake:

  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs + 2 egg whites
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup milk

For Filling:

  • 1/3 cup raspberry jam
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

For Frosting:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • fresh berries and sliced almonds, for garnish, optional

Instructions

For Cake:

  1. Place butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and mix until light and fluffy, about 1-2 minutes. 

  2. Add eggs, egg whites, almond extract and sour cream and mix well. Add salt and baking powder and mix well.

  3. Mix in flour and milk alternately, mixing just until combined.

  4. Prepare two 9-inch cake pans by greasing or linin. Pour batter evenly between the pans. Bake at 350F for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Remove cakes from their pans, and let cool on a cooling rack.

For Filling:

  1. Place jam in a small dish. Microwave for 10-20 seconds to melt. Add almond extract and mix. 

For Frosting:

  1. Place all ingredients in a mixing bowl, and use a hand mixer to beat until smooth.

  2. Spread raspberry filling on top of one layer of cake. Spread a small amount of frosting on the BOTTOM of the other layer of cake. Place frosted layer on top of the other layer.

  3. Use remaining frosting to frost the top only, leaving sides of cake bare. Top with fresh berries and almond slices, if desired.

 

Brownies for a Crowd

brownies-for-crowdOne thing I can tell you about living in Utah is that there are lots of opportunities to make large-batch desserts to feed a crowd. Between the church parties, family get-togethers, and funerals, I’ll make a big dessert several times a year.

So it’s a good idea to have a solid recipe in your back pocket for these occasions. I got this one from my aunt, and modified it just a touch. She and I kind of think alike in the recipe department… keep it simple, keep it easy.

One modification I made was to give these Nutella frosting. If you’re not into this awesome chocolate hazelnet spread, I’m sorry. Because you are wrong.┬áNutella is freaking amazing.

If you want, you can substitute the Nutella in the recipe for about 4 tablespoons of cocoa powder. That way it can be hazlenut-free while still tasting like chocolate.

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My family can eat these kinds of desserts at an alarming rate. Case in point, my daughter made a double batch of chocolate chip cookies yesterday, and today they are half gone. I think everyone has learned that they better act fast, or they won’t get any.

There’s no mercy in this house when it comes to desserts.

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You can easily cut this recipe into 40 brownies, and with 5 of us in the house, these ought to last about… 2 days.

Maybe.

Let’s talk texture for a minute. These are not quite as chocolatey and gooey as the box-mix brownies. They cut into nice clean squares, but they are still soft. They are just slightly cakey, but not too much.

Which is perfect, because I would FFAAAAAAARRRR rather have brownies than cake.

(No offense, cake fans.)

This recipe is roughly equal to 2 boxed brownie mixes. So go crazy!

 

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Brownies for a Crowd

Large-batch soft chocolate brownies with Nutella frosting.

Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings 40 squares
Author Jen @ Jen's Favorite Cookies

Ingredients

Brownies

  • 1 cup butter, melted
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 6 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 cups flour

Nutella Frosting

  • 3/4 cup butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons Nutella (chocolate hazelnut spread)
  • 6 tablespoons milk
  • 2 - 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Instructions

For Brownies:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, place melted butter. (Make sure butter is slightly cooled before adding eggs.)  Add eggs, vanilla, and salt, and mix with a large wooden spoon.  *(see notes)

  2. Add sugar and cocoa powder and mix well.  Add flour and mix just until combined.

  3. Prepare a half sheet pan (about 13" x 18" pan) by greasing or coating with a non-stick spray. Pour brownie batter into pan and spread evenly.

  4. Bake at 350F for about 20 minutes. Let cool a little before frosting.

For Nutella Frosting:

  1. In a small bowl, place melted butter and Nutella. Stir until well-combined. **(see notes)  Add milk and mix.

  2. Add powdered sugar until frosting reaches desired consistency. It should be thin enough to pour without being runny.

  3. Pour frosting over brownies, and spread evenly. Let set for 10-30 minutes before cutting into about 40 squares.

Recipe Notes

*I recommend mixing these by hand rather than using a stand mixer. Stand mixers can add a lot of air into the batter, which will make the brownies more cakey. For the best texture, a large mixing bowl and wooden spoon are the best choice.

**I melted the butter about halfway, then added the Nutella and finished melting. This softened and melted the Nutella a bit, which made it easier to mix into the butter.

***If you don't want to use Nutella, substitute it for about 4 tablespoons of cocoa powder.

 

Coconut Dark Chocolate Thumbprints

coconut-thumbprints-3bThe only thing better than coconut cookies is chocolate cookies. And this is the best of both worlds because it’s coconut AND chocolate.

Why is coconut so freaking amazing? Besides that it’s the only flavor my entire picky family agrees with, I mean.

I just love the stuff. In fact, my friend gave me some of that Crystal Light liquid stuff that you mix into water, and it was the coconut flavor, and yeah, now I’m hooked. I guess it’s better than being hooked on Diet Coke, but probably not much.

I had a bar of bittersweet chocolate in my pantry, and I was just itching to use it. I saw a couple recipes on Pinterest for coconut thumbprints with salted caramel in them, and don’t get me wrong, it sounds aaaaahmazing, but… chocolate. I just have a hard time turning down chocolate.

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Add this recipe to your Pinterest board!

I loved spooning melted chocolate into these cute little cookies.

And then eating them.

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The dough for this cookie is a bit heavy, but it helps it to keep it’s shape. Nevertheless, I would plan to eat these within a couple days rather than keep them hanging around. They could get kind of dry and stale pretty quickly if you’re not careful.

You can fill these with whatever you want. If you choose salted caramel, I won’t blame you at all. In fact, I might wish I was there to swipe one from you. You could also fill them with jam. I would recommend something with a strong flavor, like plum.

But at least consider the chocolate!

Shop Baking Supplies Now!

 

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Coconut Dark Chocolate Thumbprints

A heavy coconut cookie topped with dark chocolate

Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings 3 dozen
Author Jen @ Jen's Favorite Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, cold and cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons coconut extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 4 ounces dark or bittersweet chocolate

Instructions

  1. In a stand mixer, combine cold butter with sugar and salt, mixing just until combined.

  2. Add coconut extract and eggs, and mix. Add flour and mix just until combined. Mix in coconut, being careful not to overmix.

  3. Form tablespoon-sized balls of dough. Place on a greased or lined baking sheet and press an indent into each ball with the back of a spoon or with fingers.

  4. Bake at 350F for 9-12 minutes, until edges are slightly brown. Remove to a cooling rack and let cool.

  5. Break chocolate into pieces and place in a microwave-safe dish. Microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring between each, until chocolate is completely melted.

  6. Spoon chocolate into the indents in the cookies. Let cool slightly before eating.