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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Red Velvet Cookie Cake

I’ve never really thought about it before, but cookie cakes have played kind of a major role in my life.

It started in high school. Junior year when my husband and I were dating, there was a Sadie Hawkins’-style dance called MORP (backwards prom). Everything about it was supposed to be the opposite of the regular protocol for school dances. Instead of dressing up in our fancy best, couples were supposed to dress exactly alike. (This was much trickier in the ’90s, before the age of gender neutralized clothing.) The dance was casual instead of formal; even the photo backdrop was a departure from the usual Grecian columns and silky fabrics:

Ah yes, here we are, dressed alike and casually hanging out on our garland-draped ATV. (Who comes up with this stuff?)

The final detail of MORP was that the girl was supposed to ask the guy to the dance in some clever way. I guess food has always been my love language, because I decided to present my then-boyfriend-now-husband with a cookie cake popping the question in frosting. Unfortunately, “Will you go to MORP with me?” was too long to fit on the cookie I ended up ordering, and instead, I remember it just had the word MORP with a giant question mark.

MORP?

Good thing he knew what I was talking about, or he probably would have thought I was suffering from some sort of delicious aphasic episode.

Fast forward several years. When we found out I was pregnant with our first child, we figured we’d break out the old cookie cake communication trick to inform my husband’s parents of their new grandparent status. We had been tasked to bring dessert to Sunday dinner. Imagine my in-laws’ surprise when they read the happy news in frosted lettering. Good memories.

With this history, cookie cakes have always held a place in my heart as special occasion desserts. So the other night when a friend and her daughter joined us for dinner, I decided a red velvet cookie cake sounded like just the delectable treat to serve after dinner.

When our visiting friend and I took our first bites, we looked at each other and went, “Oh. WOW.” The subtly flavored chocolate cookie dotted with white chocolate chips and covered with smooth cream cheese frosting made for an amazing finish to dinner. Cookie cakes for the win once again!

With Valentine’s Day on the horizon, or for any special occasion, consider this decadent dessert. You don’t even have to spell out any messages on it. It’s special enough all by itself.


Print Recipe
Red Velvet Cookie Cake
Perfect for Valentine's Day, this frosted red velvet cookie cake is a decadent treat!
Servings
small slices
Ingredients
Servings
small slices
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 10-inch tart pan with cooking spray. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add egg, egg yolk, vanilla, food coloring, and vinegar and mix to combine.
  2. Add flour, cocoa powder, corn starch, baking powder, and salt and mix until just combined. Stir in white chocolate chips. Pour into prepared pan, smoothing the top of the batter until even. Bake 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, make the frosting: In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese and butter until smooth. Gradually beat in powdered sugar, then vanilla and milk, until smooth and spreadable.
  4. When cookie cake has completely cooled, spread frosting in a smooth layer on top. Sprinkle with colored sprinkles, if using. Keep refrigerated.
Recipe Notes

Cookie cake adapted from Just So Tasty. Frosting from Betty Crocker.

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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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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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Lemon Honey Olive Oil Muffins

Lemon Honey Olive Oil Muffins

You know the phrase, “If you want something done right, do it yourself”? Well, you may not think this phrase applies to the humble muffin, but I’m here to tell you it does.

Lemon Honey Olive Oil Muffins

As a muffinomaniac, I am constantly scouring the internet for new muffin varieties to try, but sometimes, alas, I just can’t find exactly the recipe I want for the ingredients I have on hand.

Lemon Honey Olive Oil Muffins

Thankfully, muffins are the perfect drawing board for recipe experimentation, even for anyone new to the process. If you can’t find a recipe for exactly what you want, you can always take the DIY route. Muffins are like a bake-able paint-by-numbers kit: hard to screw up and with a bit of room for creativity. All you have to do is find a good basic recipe (like this one from King Arthur Flour or this one from Mark Bittman) and tweak it to your liking, or to fit whatever items in your kitchen need using up. You might even use a flavor guide like The Flavor Bible for inspiration on ingredient combinations. That’s how I ended up with these Lemon Honey Olive Oil Muffins–which, by the way, are no basic muffin.

Lemon Honey Olive Oil Muffins

Popping with lemony tartness both in the batter and in a glaze on top, these little gems also have an undercurrent of the distinctive, mellower flavor of olive oil. They were just what I was hoping for when I decided to roll up my sleeves and figure out a recipe that used honey, lemon, olive oil, and whole wheat flour. Knowing they were awaiting me for breakfast even motivated me to get out of bed in the morning during this week of my kids’ return to school after Christmas break. (How did I get so used to sleeping in after only two weeks?)

Lemon Honey Olive Oil Muffins

So tell me, what kind of muffins would you make if you were to create your own recipe? Or what other types of foods do you find easy to experiment with? I’m always looking for new ideas!

Lemon Honey Olive Oil Muffins

Lemon Honey Olive Oil Muffins

Print Recipe
Lemon Honey Olive Oil Muffins
These lemony muffins get their sweetness from honey and their moist texture from olive oil.
Course breakfast
Servings
muffins
Course breakfast
Servings
muffins
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray 10 cups of a muffin tin with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the honey, olive oil, eggs, sour cream, vanilla, almond milk, and lemon juice until smooth.
  3. Add all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, salt, baking powder, and lemon zest and mix until just combined.
  4. Spoon into greased muffin cups and bake 3 minutes at 425, then reduce heat to 375 degrees and bake an additional 15-17 minutes.
  5. Cool at least 10 minutes in the pan. Meanwhile, make the glaze by whisking together the remaining lemon juice and powder sugar. Remove muffins from tin and drizzle with the glaze. Store in an airtight container.
Recipe Notes

A Love Letter to Food Original Recipe.

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