Chocolate Layer Cake

Lets talk about adjusting expectations.

Just because you have managed to do something to the highest degree of awesome once (or even twice!) doesn’t mean you should or have to do it that way again.

Chocolate layer cake (grain free)

Just because someone does something super awesome in the coolest way doesn’t mean that you need to be that way either.

So much easier said than done.

Chocolate layer cake (grain free)

While Little isn’t three yet (this birthday is Wednesday) we celebrated his birthday this weekend. The party was not what past parties have been. There was no three layer beautifully decorated cake. The food was simple and easy. The decorations largely commercialized store bought stuff. I felt like the worst mom ever.

And you know what? He loved his party. He woke up the next morning asking if he could have another birthday party.

Chocolate layer cake (grain free)

I am harder on myself than I should be. Letting go and adjusting my expectations I know would make me a happier person. I’ll get there. It’s just going to be one tiny shift at a time.

One place where I refuse to compromise and adjust expectations is with grain free cooking. I want the grain free food so be as good as the with grain varieties. This cake fits that bill perfectly.

Chocolate layer cake (grain free)

Beyond impressed.

So while the cake was frosted rather simply and topped with Pixar rather than homemade coolness it WAS absolutely delicious. Even most of the grain eaters who came to the party agreed that it was delicious.

Little clearly loved it.

Chocolate layer cake (grain free)

One year ago today: Chanterelle Mushroom Risotto

Two years ago today: Buttermilk cake with blackberries

Chocolate Layer Cake (makes 1 two layer 6 in cake)
From Against All Grain

6 eggs
1/4 cup honey
1/4 maple syrup
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 almond meal
1/3 cup coconut flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 325 F. Place the eggs, honey, maple syrup, coconut oil, and vanilla in the bowl of your food processor. Process till fully combined. Add the rest of the ingredients and process till smooth. Allow to sit for 10 minutes (for the coconut flour to absorb some of the liquid). Meanwhile grease two 6 inch pans and line the bottom with a parchment round. Once the batter has rested divide it between the two pans. Bake for 28-32 minutes rotating halfway through. Check for doneness with a toothpick. Allow to cool completely before removing from pan and frosting. Can be made up to three days ahead.

Chocolate layer cake (grain free)

Salted Caramels

I made you these for my one year party. And you know what you did? You ate all of them.

It wasn’t easy though. See I started off my screwing up the recipe. I rewrote it for you so you wont make the same mistake but I did have to pitch a whole bunch of sugar. It crystalized and I didn’t know how to bring it back from that. Sigh.

Salted caramels

BUT! The second attempt was perfect. I remember making the a while back and they turned out too hard so I checked the temp both my instant read meat thermometer and my candy thermometer. Sure enough the candy thermometer was reading 10 degrees cooler. So not ok when making candy.

So moral of that story is check your thermometer. I think there is a way to recalibrate my candy thermometer but I have no idea how… maybe I should sort that out.

Salted caramels

Anyways these make the loveliest gifts. I was impressed with how easily they wrapped up. They were delicious for over a week. Probably longer but I can’t say because they were all gone.

Yes in case you are wondering I did hide some from you so I had a few to enjoy in the days after the party. I do that sometimes. Still love me? Good. Thanks!

Salted caramels

One year ago today: Strawberry jam

Two years ago today: Chewy chocolate chip cookies

Salted Caramels (makes 1 8×8 pan)
From Ina Garten 

Vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 water
1 cup heavy cream
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus extra for sprinkling
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Line an 8-inch-square baking pan with parchment paper, allowing it to drape over 2 sides, then brush the paper lightly with oil.

In a deep saucepan (6 inches wide and 4 1/2 inches deep), combine 1/4 cup water, the sugar and corn syrup and bring them to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil until the mixture is a warm golden brown. Don’t stir — just swirl the pan.

In the meantime, in a small pot, bring the cream, butter and 1 teaspoon of sea salt to a simmer over medium heat. Turn off the heat and set aside.

When the sugar mixture is done, turn off the heat and slowly add the cream mixture to the sugar mixture. Be careful — it will bubble up violently. Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon and cook over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes, until the mixture reaches 248 degrees F (firm ball) on a candy thermometer.

Very carefully (it’s hot!) pour the caramel into the prepared pan and refrigerate for a few hours, until firm.

When the caramel is cold, pry the sheet from the pan onto a cutting board. Cut into pieces and sprinkle the caramel with sea salt. It’s easier to cut the caramels if you brush the knife with flavorless oil like corn oil.

Cut glassine or parchment paper into 4-by-5-inch pieces and wrap each caramel individually, twisting the ends. Store in the refrigerator and serve the caramels chilled.

Salted Caramels

Second Anniversary Party Recap

It was such a lovely lovely time. Thank you all for coming!

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So many cupcakes….

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Who knew lemon curd was so popular! It was an after thought even.

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Loved my decorations. And those are flowers from my yard!

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Homemade hummus and delicious (albeit huge) crackers.

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Such lovely weather too.

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The real break out star of the party? Roasted veggies. Who knew? Drizzle veggies with olive oil then throw in the oven 400 F for 15 ish minutes.

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If you serve them at your party they will be the first treat gone. Gauranteed. Or maybe only is you have veggie loving friends like I do.

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In researching mojito recipes for a crowd I discovered one that said it made 8 drinks but used a whole bottle of rum. Good times indeed. Ours were not nearly that stiff.

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Flavored water and sweet take home treats!

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And in case you have had too many cupcakes and the roasted veggies were gone we had the obligatory plate of fresh fruit.

I sold enough raffle tickets to pay for my new camera lens. So very very blessed.

Thank you.

One year ago today: Strawberry jam scones

Two years ago today: Strawberry cupcakes and blueberry muffins

Lemon Poppyseed Cake

Are you ready for me to instill some confidence in you about this cake? It baffles me.

Mostly it is delicious but it was definitely one of those things that turned out every which way. Tasty always but annoying.

I made a total of three batches of this cake in rapid succession. It was a cake all around weekend with me helping to make the cupcakes for two toddler birthday parties and having the privilege of making a cake for a baby shower I was hosting.

Lemon Poppyseed Cake

The first time I made it I made a double batch but I didn’t come out with enough cupcakes for both parties so another batch ensued. Both batches were delicious but the second was cooked ever so slightly less time and was less dense. Neither was better than the other just different.

The last batch I baked in a bunt pan like the recipe called for. Delicious in the end but I struggled to flour the bunt pan. Yes. You read that right. I struggled with something in the kitchen. So the cake you see here pictured is less than beautiful as it has huge clumps of flour on it.

Lemon Poppyseed Cake

Maddening I tell you. No one complained. All were met with rave reviews and devoured quickly. And who who can say no to poppyseed and lemon? Certainly not me.

The first batch I skipped the lemon glaze till long after the cake had cooled. It was delicious but I recommend following the directions and putting it on while the cake is hot. Also these are the STRANGEST directions if you ask me. I contemplated ignoring them and making it my own way several times but opted to try it just once. And it works. Who knows why or how it works but it does. So just trust it.

Lemon Poppyseed Cake

One year ago today: Spicy whole grain mustard

Lemon Poppyseed Cake (serves 10-12)
From Rose’s Heavenly Cakes

2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
3/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp. sour cream, divided
1 1/4tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups (8.7 ounces) superfine sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
5 tsp. loosely packed lemon zest (from 2 large lemons)
1/3 cup poppy seeds
14 Tbsp. (1 3/4 sticks; 7 ounces) unsalted butter, at 65 to 75 degrees
Lemon syrup
1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp. (4 ounces) sugar
6 Tbsp. lemon juice freshly squeezed

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 10-cup metal fluted tube pan with butter and then with flour. In a medium bowl, whisk the whole eggs, yolk, 1/4 cup of the sour cream, and the vanilla, just until lightly combined.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, lemon zest, and poppy seeds on low speed for 30 seconds. Add the butter and the remaining sour cream. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Raise the speed to medium and beat for 1 1/2 minutes. The mixture will lighten in color and texture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Starting on low speed, gradually add the egg mixture in two parts, beating on medium speed for 30 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the structure. Using a silicone spatula or spoon, scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface evenly with a small metal spatula. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a wire cake tester inserted between the tube and the side comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center.

Shortly before the cake is finished baking, make the lemon syrup. In in a small saucepan over medium heat heat the sugar and lemon juice, stirring often, until the sugar is dissolved. Do not allow it to boil. As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, place the pan on a wire rack, poke the cake all over with a thin skewer, and brush it with about one-third of the syrup. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Invert it onto a 10-inch cardboard round or serving plate. Brush the top and sides of the cake with the remaining syrup. Cool completely and wrap airtight.

Lemon Poppyseed Cake

Ice Cream Cake

Last year for my daddy’s birthday I embarked on what was my 100th post. It was the most delicious tiramisu ice cream cake. It took over a week to make. A total showstopper.

See ice cream and my dad are thing. He eats a lot of it. Hey don’t judge. We all have our things. All my vices are drinks- craft cocktails, beer, wine, tea, ridiculously good coffee. Nathan must eat all the chocolate. No matter the quality.

So naturally when his birthday rolled around this year it was time for another ice cream. Life is, to put it mildly, a tad overwhelming these days. It’s just a chapter. It will pass. But in the meantime I don’t have copious amounts of extra brain power.

Ice cream cake

I knew making an ice cream cake was simple. Despite my lack of processing capacity in my brain I poured over recipes (I think it was an escape really). There just wasn’t anything that seemed right and I waffled back and forth so many times.

Till all of a sudden it was the day before his birthday and I had no cake. Not that I hadn’t been thinking about it every.single.day. I just hadn’t decided what I was doing.

So, in a rare screw it all moment, I did something I have never done before with a cake- I winged it. Well not entirely because the cake itself is a tried and true recipe but I had absolutely no idea how it would do frozen and or how this whole mess would turn out.

This is how it went down. I made the cake, froze it, let some ice cream soften on the counter, smeared it on the frozen cake, topped with second frozen layer, refroze the whole things, then “frosted” with whipped cream and add sprinkles.

And then I forgot to photography if before we cut in to it. Because it was that good. A simple cake but oh so delicious. This will be happening again sometime soon. I promise.

Ice cream cake

One year ago today: Brown Butter Rosemary Cornbread

Ice Cream Cake (serves 12 easily)
Mine

2 pints of your favorite ice cream ( I used Trader Joes chocolate chip mint)
2 layers of your favorite chocolate cake (I made this one and froze the extra third layer)
1/2 pint whipping cream
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Freeze your layers of chocolate cake. Thirty minutes before assembly place your ice cream on the counter to soften. Place one cake layer on your board or plate. Make a collar for the cake extending up 2-3 inches out of wax paper. Secure around the bottom later with tape. Spoon in and spread around the softened ice cream. Top with the second layer and press down firmly (this will help spread the ice cream). Put back in the freezer for 2-3 hours. Whip the whipping cream with the sugar and vanilla till firm. Remove the cake from the freezer and frost quickly. Add any decorations or sprinkle you want. Put back in the freezer for 1-2 hours. Enjoy.

Ice cream cake

Chocolate Roulade

When it has come to this family’s foray into cake baking it has largely been my task.

Except for roulades. Nathan got a wild hair years ago and churned out a couple of these with varying degrees of success. Well success as far presentation was concerned. Taste wise they were absolute winners each and every time.

chocolate roulade

He even went so far as to actually ensure we had a great jelly roll pan just for making roulades. Then they ceased. Loss of interest? Moved on to other baking ventures? I can’t remember why but we haven’t had one in the house for years.

In planning a birthday cake for my lovely friend Bev, Nathan suggested making a roulade again. I wasn’t convinced. I hummed and hawed about it and finally decided to give it a shot. It’s just the idea of rolling a cake was stressing me out.

chocolate roulade

I knew there was a recipe in my Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook and what finally sold me on the idea that I COULD roll a cake was her technique. You roll the cake in a towel while still hot. You read that right- the cake comes out of the oven straight onto a cocoa powder dusted towel and rolled. It is then cooled completely wrapped up.

I am not going to lie and say that then filling the roulade wasn’t stressful but it was easier than I had anticipated. I would recommend liberally dusting the towel with the cocoa powder. It stuck in a couple of places because I was stingy.  Eh… it wasn’t that bad but perfectionist me was annoyed.

chocolate roulade

Also I didn’t have the time or patience that day to make the fancy chocolate mouse filling and opted instead to fill it is a kahlua spiked whipped cream. It was a stroke of brilliance really because the desert ended up being light and perfect. A cake you could easily eat half of and not realize it.

And eat it we did. The whole thing was put away at Tuesday night pizza and beer with no protests from anyone.

chocolate roulade

One year ago today: Granola Clusters and Easy Veggie Curry

Chocolate Roulade (serves 10-12)
From Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for dusting
1/4 all purpose flour
1 tablespoon espresso powder
1 tablespoon boiling water
6 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 325F. Coat a 12 x 17 inch jelly-roll pan with cooking spray; line with parchment. Coat lining with cooking spray. Dust with cocoa; tap out excess. Sift cocoa, flour into a bowl. Set aside. Dissolve coffee into hot water. Set aside. Separate eggs. Beat egg yolks until pale and creamy, about 5 minutes. Set aside. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites frothy. Then add the sugar and beat on medium high heat until soft peaks form. Gently fold in egg whites to egg yolk mixture. Carefully then add the coffee and flour mixtures. Pour batter into pan and smooth out carefully. Bake until cake pulls away from sides of pan and is springy to the touch. About 10-12 minutes. Run a thin knife around cake. Invert onto a clean kitchen towel dusted generously with cocoa; peel off parchment. Starting from one short end, roll cake, using towel to guide into a log (you are rolling the towel INTO the cake). Transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely.

Meanwhile beat the whipping cream, kahlua, and sugar in a bowl till set.

When cooled, unroll cake. Spread with whipped cream, leaving a small border. Roll up again, removing the kitchen towel as you go. Carefully transfer the cake to a serving plate. Dust generously with cocoa powder. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight before serving.

chocolate roulade

Hot Cocoa

Who knew this was a recipe?

I make this without thinking about it. So far during this cold weather season we have had it approximately 3.4 million times. I exaggerate but seriously at least twice a week.

Easy adaptable homemade cocoa!

It feels dumb to even share it as a recipe because this is one of the many throw-things-in-the-pan “recipes” I have. Nathan insists I share these with you though, and considering the cold temperatures and the versatility of this recipe, I figure it is high time I share it with you.

No additives. No artificial ingredients I can’t pronounce. Just sugar and cocoa. And then whatever little version of happiness you add to it. This particular “recipe” has been graced with almost everything in our liquor cabinet. I am not an orange and chocolate person so triple sec might be the one party spared.

Easy adaptable homemade cocoa!

 

Frangelico, Bailey’s, vodka (vanilla or otherwise), peppermint Schnapps, whiskey, brandy…. all of it. I don’t recommend them all at the same time but one generous splash from any of them elevates this from a kid’s post-snow play snack to mommy’s wind-down treat at bedtime.

Often, though, I am just a little kid at heart and I pack my mug halfway full of marshmallows and pour the steaming deliciousness over it, thereby melting them and making it a sickeningly sweet mess. Yum.

Easy adaptable homemade cocoa!

I tend to not make my cocoa very sweet and leave the sweetening up to my additions. Try stirring in a candy cane. Bliss.

Oh. And while I am absolute sucker for store bought mini marshmallows…. there is nothing quite like homemade marshmallows. Trust me on this one. (Recipe coming, I promise.)

Easy adaptable homemade cocoa!

One year ago today: Cranberry Orange Muffins

Hot Cocoa (makes as many as you want)
Mine

Per serving:

1 cup milk of your choosing
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1/2 tablespoon sugar (or more to taste)
1 tiny pinch of salt
1 little splash of vanilla extract

Additives of your choice: Peppermint Schnapps, peppermint extract, instant coffee powder, Bailey’s, Frangelico, vanilla vodka, etc. etc. Let your imagination run wild.

Add the milk to a sauce pan over medium high heat. Add the cocoa powder and sugar and whisk to combine. Once hot (steaming) remove from heat and add the splash of vanilla extract. Serve immediately with a candy cane or marshmallows or whipped cream.

Easy adaptable homemade cocoa!

Cookie Dough Frosting (or filling)

Yes another cake!

I am so incredibly blessed to be included in so many birthday celebrations. So. Many.

 Cookie dough frosting (of filling)

My lovely, sweet, beautiful friend Jenifer moved across the country a few years back and I don’t get to see her enough.

Thanksgiving weekend coincided with her birthday AND a trip back here to Oregon. I cannot get enough of her when she is back here. I was so lucky this time to get to have her over for dinner one night and then be asked to host her birthday party.

And birthdays mean cake. I am not going to even bother linking to all the birthday treats and cakes on here. There are so very, very many.

Cookie dough frosting (of filling)

This is actually attempt 2.0 at this frosting/filling recipe. It made its first appearance at my sister’s birthday at the beginning of the month. Total crowd pleaser.

When chatting with Jenifer about what kind of cake she wanted she suggested Funfetti. Um… I have feelings on that. Instead I offered her a chocolate on chocolate cake filled with cookie dough. Funfetti was quickly forgotten. Mercifully.

Cookie dough frosting (of filling)

My chocolate cake recipe is my standard go to. I can’t help myself. It is consistent and delicious. Light and moist — utterly perfect.

The cookie dough frosting (or filling as it was in this case) has no eggs so there is no concern about salmonella or the like. It doesn’t fare particularly well out in the air for long so I would recommend only using it if you are frosting cupcakes then immediately serving. Otherwise do as I did and fill a chocolate cake with it.

So much win.

Oh and this is going in my back pocket to make and serve at sleepovers when Little gets bigger. Cause I am a cool mom like that.

Cookie dough frosting (of filling)

One year ago today: Turkey (or chicken) biscuit pot pie

Cookie Dough Frosting (or filling) (makes enough to fill one layer of a cake or frost about 18 cupcakes)
From the Girl Who Ate Everything

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temp
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 Tablespoons milk
1 cup mini chocolate chips

With a mixer, cream together the butter and sugar at medium speed. Add the vanilla and beat well. Add the flour and salt and mix until combined. Add the milk gradually until desired consistency is reached and beat until fluffy. Gently fold in chocolate chips. Frost cooled cupcakes. I like mine thick so I kind of spoon is on. Store in refrigerator.

For the rest of the cake I used this chocolate cake poured in two 9 inch pans and baked for 30-35 min and this chocolate frosting doubled.

Cookie dough frosting (of filling)

Chocolate Layer Cake with Cream Cheese

Do you enjoy reading?

I do. So very much so. When Little was first born I read through more books than I can remember while nursing with one arm and reading on my Kindle with the other.

I have fallen out of the habit. Since Little became more mobile I have seemingly lost my ability to concentrate for more than 10 minutes at a time. Even when he is bed I struggle to stay focused on a book however engaging.

Chocolate cake with a cream cheese frosting

Till this past week.

I have a sweet dear friend whom I love to pieces. She is beautiful outside and in and so very very ambitious. Do you know what she did? SHE WROTE A BOOK. An honest to goodness novel. And a spectacular one at that.

I tore through the book. For someone with little to no down time finishing a book in under a week is kinda a big deal. I think it took me 5 days. Once you hit chapter 25/26 you are toast till the end. I am warning you.

Brooke is like family to me. She is so terribly talented in to many arenas. She and her husband had a lovely sweet baby girl about four months before we had Little. Truly my kindred spirit.

Chocolate cake with a cream cheese frosting

We often joke that we need to be sisterwives. Half the time I am not joking. Half the time I am sure she isn’t either. Maybe more.

This weekend I was honored to make this lovely cake for her book release party. Did I mention she WROTE A NOVEL? And what a lovely evening it was. She made the most tempting appetizers and delicious dinner. We all got to mingle and talk about how amazingly awesome she is and how awesome her book is.

Which is all so very very true.

Chocolate cake with a cream cheese frosting

The book is titled Marked by Glory and is the  tale of Amy Masters. Born of noble blood and completely unaware of the fact, she is swiftly thrust into the world of the supernatural when a pair of late night intruders forcibly tattoo her birthright on her. It is a story of love, loss, battle, and destiny. A wickedly good read.

So you know what? I want you to read her book. Partly because I am beyond proud of her and partly because it is just so good.

Shameless promotion but you can buy it here on Amazon or here on Barnes and Noble.

I am offering you the chance to WIN a copy. I should preface that it is currently in ebook format so I will send it to your Kindle or Nook (you can get an app for free if you have a smart phone). If you are technologically challenged and patient and you want a physical copy and you win we can wait till it is in print in about a month and I will mail you a copy.

So… comment on this post and tell me what your favorite book is. All comments made by midnight Nov 21st, 2013 will be entered into a drawing for a copy of this fabulous book. One entry per person for commenting. You can get a second entry if you share this post on facebook and then come back here AND comment that you shared the post.

And yes. I made a cake. It was delicious. And pretty.

But seriously just go read the book.

Chocolate cake with a cream cheese frosting

One year ago today:Pumpkin Crème Candies

Chocolate Layer Cake with Cream Cheese
From Key Ingredient

Cake
2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup boiling water

Cream Cheese Frosting
1 cup cream cheese
3/4 cup butter
1/2 tablespoon vanilla
6 cups powdered sugar

Chocolate Buttercream
1/2 cup butter (4 ounces)
3/4 cups cocoa powder
3 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup + 1-2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Coat three 8-inch cake pans butter. Line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla, and mix until everything is thoroughly incorporated. Stir in the boiling water; the batter will be very thin.

Divide the batter evenly among the prepared cake pans (a scale works great for this). Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of each layer comes out clean. Cool the layers in the pans for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Wrap each layer in plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Make the cream cheese filling and chocolate buttercream (see recipes below). When you’re ready to assemble the cake, remove the layers from the refrigerator. If needed, level each layer with a serrated knife or cake leveler.

Place the bottom layer on a cake plate. Evenly spread about 3/4 cup of the cream cheese filling over the cake, leaving about 1/2 inch margin around the edges. Top with the second layer and repeat. Finally, top with the third layer. Apply a thin layer of chocolate buttercream over the top and sides of the cake. This is only a crumb coat, so it doesn’t need to be perfect. Refrigerate the cake for about 30 minutes. Remove the cake from the refrigerator and apply a final layer of chocolate buttercream, as well as any desired embellishments.

Cream Cheese Frosting
Beat the cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer at medium speed for about one minute. Add the vanilla and beat one minute more. Reduce the mixing speed to low, and add the powdered sugar about 1/2 cup at a time. Once the sugar is completely incorporated, beat at medium speed for about two minutes or until fluffy.

Chocolate Buttercream
In a large bowl, combine the powdered sugar and cocoa powder. Beat the butter with an electric mixer at medium speed for about one minute. Reduce the mixing speed to low, and add the sugar/cocoa mixture about 1/2 cup at a time. Halfway through this process, add the milk and vanilla. Once all of the ingredients are thoroughly incorporated, beat at medium speed for about two minutes or until fluffy.

Chocolate cake with a cream cheese frosting

Moroccan Beef with Pine Nut Couscous

This is the lost recipe.

Have you ever made something and it was just amazing and then you don’t remember where you found it?

I have several dishes like that and this was one of the worst. I made this years ago for Nathan’s birthday. It simply disappeared.

Moroccan Beef with Pine Nut Couscous

A few weeks ago we were cleaning out a stack of recipes and notes from a cupboard in the kitchen. Papers were placed in several piles- to make for the blog, already on the blog so we can pitch, utter failures never to make again, etc. And somewhere in all those recipes this one resurfaced.

I was SO pleased.

The first time I made it was the story of the dinner that multiplied. I made just a single recipe (and made it with the lamb like the original recipe called for) and somehow it managed to feed a table of, if I recall correctly, twelve.

Moroccan Beef with Pine Nut Couscous

This year knowing I was going to have a crowd I doubled the recipe and used beef since it was significantly cheaper. I was sure there would be leftovers.

Nope.

Every.single.last.bite. was gone.

And who can blame them? It is utterly delicious. The comment was made around the table a couple of times that we don’t often eat meat spiced like this. What a tasty tasty birthday dinner is was for Nathan.

Lucky boy.

Moroccan Beef with Pine Nut Couscous
One year ago today: Cheddar Scallion Drop Biscuits

Moroccan Beef with Pine Nut Couscous (serves 6-8)
Adapted from Rachel Ray

2 1/2 pounds stew meat
1 rounded tablespoon grill seasoning
2 teaspoons turmeric
2 teaspoons cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons coriander
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
20 to 24 pitted dates, halved, about 1 cup
1 quart chicken stock
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons pine nuts
2 cups couscous
4 scallions, chopped

Place beef in a food storage bag. Combine the 7 spices in a small bowl. Sprinkle into the bag and seal bag. Shake and evenly coat the beef pieces in the spices.

Heat a large, deep skillet over medium-high to high heat. Add 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil then the beef. Sear the beef and caramelize the meat all over, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the onions and garlic and cook 5 minutes more. Add the dates and 2 cups of chicken stock to the pan and cover. Simmer for 20-30 minutes more (till the meat is tender) to plump the dates, soften the onions. Remove cover and adjust seasonings.

During the last 5 minutes the beef has to cook, melt butter and toast pine nuts. Add 2 cups stock and bring to a boil. Remove pan from heat, add couscous and cover pan. Let stand 5 minutes. Remove lid and fluff with fork.

Serve beef over couscous in shallow dishes and garnish with chopped scallions.

Moroccan Beef with Pine Nut Couscous