Chocolate Mint Layer Cake

Hi, my name is Sarah and I’m a cake-aholic.

And I am also a nutritionist.

Do we have a problem here? Not necessarily. I mean, while I absolutely love cake, I don’t eat it every day, I maintain a healthy weight, and my diet is generally (I’d like to think) pretty healthy. In fact, I’m a big fan of the 80/20 principle when it comes to eating: stay on course nutritionally about 80% of the time, do what you like–within reason–the other 20% or so. (I even wrote an article about it here.) So do I feel bad posting a totally indulgent, party-perfect Chocolate Mint Layer Cake on the blog today?

No, I actually don’t. Especially because today is my birthday.

This cake isn’t actually for my birthday (mine will be a Neapolitan Strawberry-Vanilla-Chocolate sugar bomb I intend to make this afternoon), but rather, for my mom’s a few weeks ago. My mom and I have a little arrangement where, because I love making cakes and we both love eating them, I get to make her a cake of my choosing every year. Usually with chocolate.

This year mint chocolate was calling to me, and this recipe, modified from Lindsay over at Life, Love, and Sugar was exactly what I was looking for–except that with our family size, I didn’t actually need THREE layers. (Though I may have wanted them.) The cake came out fluffy and moist and kept well in the fridge, where it shockingly actually lasted a week. And though, with mint frosting, it can be tough to strike the right non-toothpaste-y, yet not-too-mild note, this stuff does so beautifully.

I’m no cake decorating expert–I’ve taken one single class at my local Michael’s with an instructor who was oddly enthusiastic about using Snickers to garnish cakes–but I have to say, I think this, with its pretty green color and tempting Andes mint pieces, turned out looking particularly appealing. And tasted amazing. What more does a birthday cake need?

P.S. I’m not including nutrition info for this one. It’s my birthday and I DON’T WANNA KNOW!



Print Recipe
Chocolate Mint Layer Cake
Minty, chocolatey, and totally indulgent, this cake makes the perfect choice for a birthday or other special occasion!
Course Dessert
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Servings
slices
Course Dessert
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Servings
slices
Instructions
Make the chocolate cake:
  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees and grease two 9-inch cake pans well. In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients (flour through salt). Make a well in the center of the dry mixture and add egg, egg white, milk, and vegetable oil. Mix to combine. Add vanilla and boiling water and mix until well incorporated.
  2. Divide batter evenly between the two pans and bake 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely.
Make the mint frosting:
  1. While the cakes cool, mix softened butter, shortening, and powdered sugar until smooth. Add water or milk, vanilla, and peppermint extract and mix again. Slowly add food coloring to your liking (I'd say go with about 2/3 green and 1/3 yellow) and mix until color is even.
  2. Place one layer of the cake on a platter and frost the top. Top with second layer of cake and frost the entire cake, reserving about 1 1/2 c. for extra frosting garnishes.
  3. To get the look pictured, use a cake decorating tip like Wilton 1M to pipe swirls around the outer edge of the cake's surface. Insert whole Andes mints into the swirls, press them into the base of the cake, or garnish however you like!
Recipe Notes

Adapted from Life, Love, and Sugar.

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Sangria Granita

You know what this blog needs? More alcohol. And it could always use more desserts. Let’s get crazy and combine the two in a fruity, refreshing Sangria Granita.

If you’ve never had granita before, you’ve probably had something similar that goes by a different name–because it’s basically a grown-up slushie. In fact, there’s not even always anything “grown-up” about it. It pretty much IS a slushie…or, if you prefer another name name, a “shaved ice” or, for the truly refined, a “sno cone.”  With origins in Sicily, granitas can be found alongside gelato all over Italy (which explains why you might ALSO hear them called “Italian ice”). A dead-easy dessert, granita typically contains just water, sugar, and a flavoring. Add some freezing time and a few rounds of ice crystal-scraping and you have the perfect sweet to hit the spot on a hot day.

With summer on the horizon, this Sangria Granita might be just the light treat you need poolside or after dinner. This version starts with Merlot and the juices of oranges, lemons, and limes, but could easily be adapted to use other wines and/or fruit juices. Let me know which combination you think would taste best!

Print Recipe
Sangria Granita
A refreshing, light dessert that's perfect for summer!
Course Dessert
Cook Time 5 minutes
Passive Time 3 hours
Servings
Course Dessert
Cook Time 5 minutes
Passive Time 3 hours
Servings
Instructions
  1. In a saucepan, heat wine, water, and sugar to boiling over medium heat. Boil and stir one minute, until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and stir in fruit juices. Let cool.
  2. Pour mixture into an 9 x 13 baking pan (metal works better than glass for optimal freezing). Place the pan in the freezer. Remove after 30 minutes to scrape and stir the mixture with a fork so that flaky ice crystals form. Repeat every 30 minutes until frozen to your liking.
  3. To serve, scrape with a fork into individual bowls and serve immediately.
Recipe Notes

Adapted from Fine Cooking.

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Apple Pie Truffles

How has it been since August that this blog has featured a dessert recipe? I’ll be honest, the gap in blogging about desserts is certainly not for lack of eating them! Halloween and our Stranger Things Party made sure of that. But now that Thanksgiving is upon us, leading (obviously) straight into the Christmas season, I say we can interrupt our regularly scheduled mostly healthy programming to bring you these Apple Pie Truffles.

Why Apple Pie Truffles? Doesn’t regular pie stand on its own as the top choice of discriminating holiday dessert eaters everywhere? Why would you mess with greatness? Well, pie and truffles are like religion and science: they don’t have to be in opposition! There’s room at the table–literally–for both.

These decadent truffles are like individual apple pies in poppable bite form–oh, and did I mention they’re covered in white chocolate? Apple pie + white chocolate is the flavor combination you didn’t know was missing from your life. The use of shortbread cookies to achieve the buttery texture of crust adds to the sensory experience…and of course the taste.

I’m thinking these need to make an appearance at our annual Christmas party…and maybe at a cookie exchange…and heck, let’s throw in Thanksgiving dinner, too. I don’t think anyone will mind.


Print Recipe
Apple Pie Truffles
These decadent truffles are like apple pie in poppable bite form!
Course Dessert
Servings
truffles
Ingredients
Course Dessert
Servings
truffles
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Peel apple and dice fine into ~ 1/4 square cubes. Place in a small saucepan with 1-2 Tbsp. of water, cover, and heat over medium heat about 5 minutes or until apple has just softened. Remove from heat, drain if any water remains, and set aside to cool.
  2. Crush shortbread cookies into crumbs. In a large mixing bowl, combine cookie crumbs, powdered sugar, cream cheese, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, and melted white chocolate. Form into a ball as best you can, cover, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  3. Line a flat platter or baking sheet with wax paper. Remove truffle mixture from fridge and form into 12-14 balls, about 1 inch in diameter, placing them on wax paper. Return to the fridge for another 30 minutes to 1 hour of chilling.
  4. In a small bowl, melt white chocolate in the microwave (30 second intervals tends to work well). Carefully dip each ball in the melted chocolate, rolling to cover the exterior and allowing excess chocolate to drip off. Place balls on wax paper. Sprinkle with cinnamon to finish.
  5. Return to the refrigerator for storing.
Recipe Notes

Adapted from Kitchen Sanctuary.

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Streusel-Topped Blueberry Custard Pie

Did you know that you can still actually enter pies to be judged at the state fair? There are many things I do not wish to be judged on (my fashion sense, the way I drive when my kids are late to school, the fine lines creeping across my face, to name a few), but if you must judge me, by all means, judge me by my pies.

This pie, specifically. I’m seriously considering entering this Streusel-Topped Blueberry Custard Pie in the upcoming Arizona State Fair Culinary Arts Exhibition in October. It may just be me and a bunch of old ladies from far-flung regions of this great state–places with goofy names like Tuba City and Why–people who still think of the state fair as an opportunity to display their skills instead of an opportunity to see Snoop Dogg in concert and eat fried Twinkies. But I’d kind of like the chance to showcase this gem of a pie, because it is deeeeelish.

Admittedly, “Streusel-Topped Blueberry Custard Pie” is a bit of a mouthful–literally and figuratively–and initially, sounds like a rather odd combination of flavors and concepts:

Streusel? On top of blueberry pie? Which is a custard?

But don’t let that deter you.

This is one special pie. Its mix of creamy blueberry custard with sweet, crunchy streusel is truly unique and has been a crowd-pleaser for its originality every time I’ve served it. If you’ve ever seen the movie Amélie, you may remember the title character’s delight at cracking the crust of a crime brûlée with a spoon to access the smooth custard underneath.

This pie offers a similar tactile pleasure, as its crunchy layer of streusel topping gives way to velvety custard beneath. And I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the way the cinnamony top complements the blueberry filling.

So what do you think? State fair-worthy? What pie would you enter in your state fair?

Nutrition Facts
Servings: 9
Per Serving % Daily Value*
Calories 276
Total Fat 12g 15%
Saturated Fat 4.5g 22%
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 29mg 10%
Sodium 204mg 9%
Potassium 91mg 2%
Total Carb 39.9g 13%
Dietary Fiber 1.9g 7%
Sugars 24.8g
Protein 3.5g
Vitamin A 5% · Vitamin C 11%
Calcium 2% · Iron 8%
*Based on a 2,000 calorie diet
Recipe analyzed by 
Print Recipe
Streusel-Topped Blueberry Custard Pie
A crunchy layer of streusel gives way to velvety blueberry custard underneath in this truly unique pie.
Course Dessert
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings
Ingredients
For the crust and filling:
For the streusel topping:
Course Dessert
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings
Ingredients
For the crust and filling:
For the streusel topping:
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll pie crust to a diameter of 10 inches and place in the bottom of a 10-inch pie plate.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine sour cream, egg, sugar, vanilla, 2 Tbsp. flour, and salt. Fold in blueberries. Pour the mixture into the pie crust. Bake 25 minutes. (You may want to cover the edges with foil or a crust shield to prevent excessive browning.)
  3. In the meantime, prepare streusel: in a small bowl, combine brown sugar and flour, then work the butter in with a fork or your fingers. Stir in pecans.
  4. After 25 minutes of baking, sprinkle streusel over the top of the blueberry filling. Return to oven and bake an additional 15-20 minutes until the filling is no longer jiggly and the topping is nicely browned. Cool 30 minutes before serving, or serve chilled.
Recipe Notes
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3-Ingredient Mango Frozen Yogurt

Mango frozen yogurt

I’m gonna come right out and say that Disneyland is missing a major opportunity.

Anyone who has been to Adventureland knows that you absolutely cannot have a complete Disney experience there without enjoying some Dole Pineapple Whip. You know, from the thatched-roof stand next to the Tiki Room where the line always stretches back to the I-10 (or at least to Sleeping Beauty’s Castle). I enjoy Dole Whip, with its cool, creamy texture and tropical sweetness, but I’m not quite as fanatical about it as some people I know. People go NUTS for this stuff.

So when I say Disneyland is missing an opportunity, here’s what I mean: there are other tropical fruits they haven’t experimented with that can be made into whips. Like mango! In this foodie’s humble opinion, this mango frozen yogurt (aka Mango Whip) is at least as tasty as the pineapple version served in Adventureland. It’s a zippy fresh fruit treat that, with only three ingredients, is ridiculously easy to make and surprisingly low in added sugar. If Disneyland tapped into this, the tiki stand could have lines that stretch all the way to the Pacific! Wouldn’t THAT be fun?

Mango frozen yogurt

Or, instead, you could just make it at home.

Mango frozen yogurt

Frozen mango + yogurt + powdered sugar + a blender, and in 5 minutes you’ve got the definition of refreshment in a bowl. So who needs Disneyland? (Ok, I do. I need Disneyland. When can we go back again???)

Adventure land

 

Print Recipe
3-Ingredient Mango Frozen Yogurt
A refreshing mango frozen yogurt with minimal added sugar.
Course Dessert, snack
Servings
(generously)
Ingredients
Course Dessert, snack
Servings
(generously)
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients in a blender or the bowl of a food processor and blend/process until smooth. Serve immediately.
Recipe Notes

Adapted from Eating Well.

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