Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Moistest Ever Chocolate-Peanut Butter Triple Layer Cake

This cake was totally amazing. It's like a really rich Reese's peanut butter cup in cake form, only about a thousand times better. I could not stop eating it! Make sure to chill it well before frosting and you'll get a neater frosting job than I did. :) The cake is super moist, and the frosting is so rich and delicious...you must try the recipe!

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Triple Layer Cake (from Sky High: Triple Layer Cakes)

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch process
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup neutral vegetable oil
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line three 8-inch round cake pans with buttered parchment circles in the bottoms of the pans. Butter and flour the pans. (Make sure to get them really buttered and floured--these cakes are really sticky!)
2. Sift together the dry ingredients (flour sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt). Whisk to combine; then add the oil and sour cream and whisk together. Gradually whisk in the water, followed by the vinegar and vanilla. Whisk in the eggs and beat well to blend, scraping down the sides of the bowls as needed.
3. Divide among the three pans and bake for about 30-35 minutes. Cool, then very carefully remove from the pans. Wrap in plastic wrap and freeze about 30 minutes before frosting.

10 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
5 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2/3 cup smooth peanut butter (not a "natural" variety)

1. Beat together the cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Add the confectioners' sugar slowly...you might not use all of it. Add the peanut butter and beat thoroughly for 3-4 minutes until light and fluffy.
2. Remove the cakes from the freezer and place one layer on the serving tray. Spread 2/3 cup frosting on the bottom layer; top with a second layer, another 2/3 cup of frosting, and the top layer of cake. Spread a thin layer of frosting on the entire cake. Chill for about 20-30 minutes. Frost the cake evenly with

Monday, October 20, 2008

Sweet Potato-Black Bean Chili

Eek, it's been forever since I've posted here! But, my big exam is over, and so things may go somewhat back to normal. :)

I've been making this chili for a long time, but somehow never actually managed to post it here! It's extremely easy and very versatile. Since it has beans, there's plenty of protein and the chili is filling without any meat. But it's also tasty with ground turkey, sweet Italian sausage, a mix of sweet and hot Italian sausage, or any other meat.

Part of the reason this dish is so easy is that it relies on jarred salsa for a lot of the flavor--so don't skimp on a cheap brand. I like to use one that involves tomatoes, black beans, and corn, but whichever you go with, you definitely want to go for the more normal flavors rather than a peach or pineapple salsa. You can vary the heat level according to how spicy you'd like the chili.

Sweet Potato-Black Bean Chili (from Good Housekeeping)

1 T olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 medium sweet potatoes or yams (about 12 oz. each), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 T chili powder
1 16 oz. jar salsa
1 cup water
3/4 lb. ground turkey, sweet Italian sausage, etc. (optional)
2 15-19 oz. cans black beans

1. In a large pot, heat the olive oil. Add the onions, and saute until they begin to soften. Add the garlic, and saute one minute.
2. Stir in the sweet potatoes, chili powder, salsa, and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer about 12-15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender.
3. Meanwhile, crumble the meat and saute over medium heat until well-browned. Set aside on a paper towel to drain.
4. Add the browned meat and black beans (with their liquid) to the soup. Stir well and cook three minutes or until everything is heated through. Enjoy with cheddar cheese and/or sour cream.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Hershey's Chocolate Brownies with Frosting

My posting has been rather erratic of late as I'm preparing for a comprehensive field exam in my PhD program, which is taking place on Monday...wish me luck! This test is in the field of public law (I took the exam in American politics last spring), so any good wishes with regard to the Supreme Court or judicial behavior would be much appreciated... :)

These gooey brownies are super delicious. They're perfect for those times when you want a brownie that tastes like a brownie mix, except exceptionally good! The recipe comes from Hershey's and so both the brownies and the frosting use cocoa powder, which is really convenient and easy. They taste fabulous and just like a good brownie should taste! The frosting makes them extra decadent, so don't skip it (or the little bit of corn syrup).

Hershey's Chocolate Brownies with Frosting (recipe from Hershey's)

2 sticks butter
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 eggs
3/4 cup cocoa
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons butter, softened
6 tablespoons cocoa
2 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar
2 to 4 tablespoons milk

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a 13x9 inch brownie pan.
2. Make the brownies: Melt the butter, and then stir in the sugar and vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each egg. Stir in the cocoa. Sift in the flour, baking powder, and salt, and stir to combine. Pour into the pan and bake for 30 minutes. Cool completely.
3. Make the frosting: Beat the butter, cocoa, corn syrup, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar and the smaller amount of milk, and beat well. Add milk until a spreading consistency is attained. Frost the cooled brownies with an offset spatula.