Dense Chocolate Chocolate Cake

Monday, December 31, 2012

Everyone needs a good chocolate cake recipe and this has been my go to recipe for years.  (I even had a 5 year old girl convinced that she wanted this cake every year for her birthday cake, she thought it was that good!).  I have to admit that I love the ease of cake mixes, but I hate how potentially dry they can be.  With pudding, sour cream, and cream cheese added to the mix, this cake turns out perfectly moist and flavorful....just the way I like it!
 Click here for printable recipe.

Post by: Jen

recipe source: Philadelphia Cream Cheese Collection

1 8 oz pkg cream cheese, softened
1 c sour cream
1/2 c water
2 eggs
1 box chocolate cake mix
1 4 oz pkg instant chocolate pudding mix
1 c chocolate chips, optional

Peaheat oven to 325 degrees.

Cream the cream cheese until it is is smooth. Mix in the eggs, and water and blend until smooth.
 Add in the cake mix and the pudding mix and blend together until all mixed well.
 This is a VERY thick batter.  It may work your beaters!  Stir in the chocolate chips at this point if desired.
Grease and flour your pan.  I love to use a bundt pan for this cake, but it works just fine in 2 round cake pans, or a 9x13 pan.  If I am not covering the cake with a ganache, or frosting, then I like to flour the pan with cocoa powder so as to not leave a flour residue on the cake.  OR if you have the flour/butter spray combo then use that because that stuff is amazing for greasing and flouring pans!
 Spread your batter into the pan.  This is thick, so you will spoon your batter into the pan and then spread it out.
 Bake in a 325 degree oven for 1 hour or until toothpick in center is clean.  It will take less time if using 2 rounds or a rectangle pan.  I would check around 40 minutes.  But check by looking in your oven rather than opening your oven if possible.
 Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then invert onto a cooling rack.  (unless you are using a 9x13 pan, and you want to leave it in the pan)  Cool completely.
 You can put whatever you want on the top.  Frosting, chocolate ganache,  fresh fruit, powdered sugar,whipped cream, pie filling,  etc...  Here it is with chocolate ganache.  It will be very chocolaty.  In fact when I made this again recently, my 8 year old son requested that I make it not too chocolaty.
 I love this recipe because it tastes great and it is great to serve to guests.  Plus it looks really cool with powdered sugar!


Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Between my son's diagnosis with leukemia early this year and my husband getting laid off from his job later the same week, it's been a tough year to say the least.  However, in amongst the struggles that life brought us this year, we have also never felt so incredibly blessed.  We were comforted  by God's peace in every step of our journey and we are grateful to so many of you who brought us food, listened to us cry, and most importantly prayed for us. We felt the power of those prayers buoying us up in the darkest moments we faced.    Spencer has been in remission for 6-1/2 months now and this holiday season we are just grateful to be all together. 

May God bless you and your families with peace and love this holiday season.  Merry Christmas! 



"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."  John 3:16


Andes Mint Fudge

Sunday, December 23, 2012

What can I say about this fudge?
First let me tell you how incredibly easy this fudge is.  No need for candy thermometers or timers with this twelve year old daughter whipped us up this fudge 100% by herself (she even took all the process pictures herself). 
Second, it's amazingly tasty. 
If you like mint and chocolate, then you are in for a treat with this creamy delight! 
Lastly, it's beautiful! 
With it's different colored layers, it's a gorgeous addition to your goodie plates!
Easy, tasty, and beautiful...
What are you waiting for?

Recipe Source:  Finding Joy in My Kitchen. 
Click here for printable recipe.

Posted by Lara.

The ingredients:

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips, divided
1 can (14-ounces) sweetened condensed milk, divided
8 oz. white baking chocolate (or 1-1/2 cups white chocolate chips)
1-1/2 tsp. peppermint extract  (we like the Watkins peppermint extract from Walmart--it's cheaper and has a better flavor)
2 drops green food coloring
1 tsp. shortening (like Crisco)
1/2 cup Andes mint chips (or regular Andes mints chopped up)


Line a square 8x8 or 9x9-inch baking pan with tinfoil or parchment paper and lightly spray with nonstick spray. 
In a small saucepan, combine 3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk with 1 cup chocolate chips.    Heat over medium-low heat.  Stirring frequently, heat until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.   
Spread the chocolate mixture evenly in the bottom of the prepared pan. 
Place the pan in the refrigerator for 5-10 minutes while you prepare the next layer. 
Grab a second small saucepan and combine 8 oz. white chocolate (either white baking chocolate or 1-1/2 cups white chocolate chips) along with the rest of the sweetened condensed milk.
As with the first layer, heat over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture is melted and smooth.  Then add 1-1/2 tsp. peppermint extract and 2 drops of green food coloring. 
Add additional food coloring drop-by-drop until the desired color has been reached, then gently pour the green/minty layer over the set chocolate layer, taking care to keep the layers separate. 
Place  pan in the refrigerator until set (about 10 minutes).  Meanwhile, in a microwaveable bowl combine the remaining cup of chocolate chips and the teaspoon of shortening. 
Microwave, stopping it every thirty seconds to stir,  until smooth and melted (about 2 minutes).  Pour the melted chocolate over the mint layer, spreading it carefully.  Before chocolate is set, sprinkle the Andes mint chips over the top, lightly pressing them down as you go. 
Cover and refrigerate for at least 2-4 hours.    Allow to sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes before cutting and serving.   Store covered in the fridge or freezer. 


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Frosted Pretzels

Saturday, December 22, 2012

I love the flavors of sweet and salty together.  These are about some of the easiest treats to make and everyone loves them.  They are incredibly versatile and can be made for just about every occasion you can think of.  All it takes is two ingredients and then your imagination with the sprinkles.  Here is an assortment showing pretzels for Christmas, Halloween, 4th of July, and a baby shower.  How will you decorate them?!
Click here for printable recipe. 

 Post by: Jen


Almond Bark (often found in the baking aisle next to the chocolate.  I often can find it at Walmart.  You can use candy melts from the craft store as well)
Mini pretzels
wax paper

Break up your almond bark into smaller pieces so as to ensure quicker and more even melting.  Place them in a large non stick pan and melt over LOW heat.
Stir occasionally until everything is melted.  Meanwhile, lay out sheets of wax paper so you are prepared with someplace to put your pretzels. 
Add a handful or two of pretzels at a time.  Carefully fold them into the almond bark so that nothing breaks.  Make sure they are completely coated.

 Using a fork, or skewer or something with prongs that won't scrape your pan,  remove a few pretzels and tap the excess off.  (tap the fork or the skewer against the side of the pan).
 Place the pretzels on the wax paper and separate them so they are not touching.  After you have placed about a dozen on the paper, decorate with your sprinkles of choice.  Make sure that you put your sprinkles on before the almond bark sets.  After sprinkling some pretzels, go back to the pan and continue as above.  Repeat until all the almond bark is gone.  You will have about five or six full 9x13 sheets of wax paper.  Make sure that you have room on your table to store them while they are cooling.

I place my wax paper onto a transferable surface so that I can move the paper if necessary.  Like my plastic dinosaur placemat?!

Here are Halloween pretzels

 Fourth of July or Flag day or Memorial Day pretzels
 Pink or Blue baby shower pretzels
 have fun thinking up other things to do with various holidays,  Just make sure that you use small sprinkles .  It will look better.


Chocolate-Peanut Butter Pretzel Bars

Friday, December 21, 2012

I pretty much guessed before even making these, that my family would love the salty and sweet combination of these bars.  What I didn't expect was how much other people would love them too.  I went home from the gathering I brought them to with a completely empty plate and several requests for the recipe.   

Recipe adapted from The Family Kitchen
Click here for printable recipe.

Posted by Kristina. 

The ingredients:

3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1-1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1-1/2 cups mini pretzel twists, broken up
1/3 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup chocolate chips


In a large bowl, beat butter, brown sugar, and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Add the flour, baking soda, and salt and stir until combined. Fold in chocolate chips and 1 cup of the pretzel pieces.
Spread the batter evenly into a greased 9x13-inch baking pan and bake at 350-degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.
In a small microwaveable bowl melt the peanut butter and chocolate chips stirring every thirty seconds until smooth and melted.  Sprinkle the bars with the remaining crushed pretzel pieces and drizzle with the peanut butter and chocolate mixture.
Let cool until set, then cut into squares or bars. 


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Peppermint Surprise Cookies

Thursday, December 20, 2012

I don't know about the rest of you, but I love serving food with an unexpected twist.  Something that will stop people mid-bite and say, "Wow! That's not what I expected, but it's really good!"    These cookies are just that.  They look like a simple peppermint snowball cookies, but lo and behold there's a little chocolate kiss waiting inside to be eaten!  In addition to being a fun and unique addition to a cookie exchange, these are also sturdy enough that they  would be great for mailing in a holiday package.   Enjoy! 

Recipe adapted from an old cooking magazine.

Click here for printable recipe

Posted by Lara.

The ingredients:
1-3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. peppermint extract
4-2/3 cups flour
Hershey Kisses (about 60)
4-ounces white chocolate
Crushed peppermint candies (crushed in blender)

In a large bowl, combine butter and sugar and mix until well combined.  Add egg, vanilla, and peppermint extract until beaten.  Add the flour one cup at a time, mixing until all of the flour is well incorporated.   The dough will be thick. 
Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. 

Shape dough into about 1-inch balls, flatten, then place an unwrapped Hershey Kiss into the middle of each and wrap the dough around until the Kiss is fully encased in dough.

Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes at 350 degrees or until the bottoms are barely brown.  Transfer to wire rack to cool. 

In a microwaveable bowl (make sure the bowl is perfectly clean and dry first or the chocolate will not melt properly), melt the white chocolate by placing in the microwave for two minutes and stopping to stir every thirty seconds.  Dip the top of each cookie into the melted white chocolate, then sprinkle with crushed peppermint candies. 

Allow chocolate/peppermint topping to set before serving.  

Makes about 5-6 dozen cookies. 


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Pumpkin Doughnut Muffins

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A couple of weeks ago I bought some pumpkins from a garden center.  One of the pumpkins was a pie pumpkin, which is the kind of pumpkin that you can puree and eat.  I didn't want to just eat the pumpkin by itself, so I asked Lara for a pumpkin recipe I could try.  This is the recipe she gave me.

They were delicious!  I couldn't get enough of them and thought they would make for a perfect Christmas morning breakfast! They're a little dense, but moist and delicious...especially fresh and hot out of the pan!  My roommates and I couldn't stop eating them. 

Recipe adapted from The Virtual Goody Plate 
Click here for printable recipe.

Posted by AnnaLisa

 The ingredients:

 10 T unsalted butter, room temperature
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground allspice
(next time I will double both the nutmeg and allspice and add a teaspoon of cinnamon)
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 1/4 cups pure pumpkin puree (from a 15 oz. can)
3/4 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs

Sugar Coating:
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350. Butter and flour 12 standard muffin cups.

Make batter: In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and allspice. In a small bowl whisk together buttermilk and pumpkin puree.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, scraping down bowl as needed. With mixer on low, add flour mixture in three additions, alternating with two additions pumpkin mixture and beat to combine.
Spoon 1/3 cup batter into each muffin cup and bake until a toothpick inserted in center of a muffin comes out clean, 18-22 minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine granulated sugar and cinnamon. Let muffins cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack. Working with one at a time, remove muffins from pan, brush all over with melted butter, then toss to coat in sugar mixture. Let muffins cool completely on a wire rack. (Store in airtight container up to 1 day.)

  Makes about 15 muffins.


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About This Blog

My name is Lara and while I'm definitely not a gourmet cook, I do love preparing tasty, healthy meals for my family. Finding new recipes to try and sharing the ones we've already fallen in love with is a passion I've had since college and the reason why I've started this blog! With five kids, I'm usually in a hurry, so you'll find most of these recipes kid friendly and simple to make.

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