Easter Coconut Sheet Cake

When Spring rolls around, there are three ingredients that I automatically gravitate towards: carrot, lemon and coconut. My Easter dessert usually centres around one of those three things, although this year I was in Florida for Easter weekend, so didn’t have a chance to do any baking. Luckily, we had this magnificent Easter Coconut Sheet Cake on the agenda for this week’s Baked Sunday Morning.

The first thing I noticed when reviewing the recipe for this cake is the variety of ways the Baked Boys incorporate coconut into the recipe. In the cake there are FOUR coconut ingredients: coconut oil, coconut extract, sweetened shredded coconut, and cream of coconut. No problem on the first three: you can find coconut oil pretty much everywhere now, coconut extract was at my grocery store, (although artificial, not pure, and shout to a couple of my fellow BSMers who MADE THEIR OWN COCONUT EXTRACT for this recipe!), and of course shredded coconut is easy to find. But this last one, cream of coconut, is what led me on a comical search through three grocery stores last week trying to track it down. I found both Creamed Coconut (a hard block you’re supposed to add boiling water to and stir to make a paste) and Coconut Cream, neither of which I was convinced were the right ingredient. BSMer Sandra assured me on our site that Coconut Cream would be fine as the cream of coconut product everyone uses in the US, Coco Lopez, is not available up here in Canada.

Having procured all the ingredients, this cake was fairly easy to pull together, although it seemed kind of weird to fold in 5 whipped egg whites at the end. I’m curious to know what it would have been like without them, since my final cake didn’t seem sponge-cake like, and was still pretty dense.

Now the icing. This is a coconut based variation on the Boys’ Swiss Meringue Buttercream, which I’ve made twice in the past. The first time I concluded it tasted like pure whipped butter, so the second time, I only added half the butter, and it turned out fine. I tried the same method again this time, and it started to curdle a bit at the end, so I kept mixing and hoped for the best. Once I added the coconut cream, coconut extract and salt at the end, it seemed to smooth out, but wasn’t as fluffy as I remember.

I had my heart set on decorating the cake like the Boys did in the book, which is a super cute rainbow-esque pattern with little bursts of icing.  Of course I forgot to pick up extra piping tips when I was out, so I followed the instructions in the book and used plastic storage bags. Please note that I DO NOT recommend this! Because you snip the corner of the edges of the bags, you end up with little lines or creases in your icing. Overall I still think it turned out to be cute, and some of the bursts almost look like jelly beans, but truly I should have taken the time to go get a couple more large round tips so I could have done it properly.

Okay, geez, with all that said, how did it taste? AMAZING. The only thing I would have maybe changed is to leave the actual shredded coconut out of the cake. It’s cococut-y enough without it, and I just think I would have liked it better, but it’s still delicious and thick and hydrated. Although Swiss Meringue Buttercream is not my fave, I will still say that it’s super smooth and light and melts in your mouth. Overall a success!

You can find the recipe here!

More Baked Sunday Mornings here!

{ 3 comments }

Strawberry Pie

by byn on April 1, 2015

in Pies & Tarts

Strawberry Jell-O Pie

I’m super excited to share this quick and easy recipe today! *insert sound of record scratching here* APRIL FOOL’S! I can’t even keep up this charade as a joke. Let me take a minute to explain.

On my 5th blog-iversarya mean internet troll my brother left me a comment that said: “Meh. The continuing lack of gelatin-based strawberry desserts on this blog is disappointing. Unsubscribe”.

Over the years, you have heard me repeatedly mention my brother’s love for a dessert known as Strawberry Pie. My Mom made this for us frequently while we were growing up, along with Lemon Meringue Pie (my brother Joel’s favourite) and Skor Bar Dessert. To this day, every time I show up for a family event,  Chris still asks if I made Strawberry Pie. So I decided that for a special April Fool’s post (as in, there is no way I would ever seriously put this recipe out into the world) I would finally document this truly horrifying dessert.

 What do you need?

  • Pie crust from a box, don’t even think about making one from scratch
  • Box of Strawberry Jell-O
  • Tub of Cool Whip
  • Water, both boiling, cold, and in the form of cubes
  • Fresh strawberries (optional, see Chris’ opinion on this below)

I brought this creation over to my brother’s house last weekend, and this time, when he excitedly guessed what I brought for dessert,  he was actually RIGHT. His only complaint was that there were TOO MANY FRESH STRAWBERRIES, and he left them in a little pile on the side of his plate. I MEAN REALLY! He said that over the years he would ask my Mom to put in fewer and fewer until the filling was just a mixture of straight up Jell-O and Cool Whip.

I ate the tiniest little sliver you can imagine, and it tasted like all my childhood nightmares in a convenient pie formation.

Here’s the recipe anyway. Sorry.

Strawberry Pie

Source: Mom (originally a Kraft recipe, probably on the back of the Jell-O box)

Ingredients

1 frozen pie crust, thawed and baked according to the directions on the box

1 pkg Strawberry Jell-O

2/3 cup boiling water

1/2 cup cold water, and enough ice cubes to make it 1 cup

1 1/2 cups Cool Whip, thawed

 1/2 -1 cup sliced fresh strawberries

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, add the Jell-O powder, then add the boiling water, and stir for a few minutes until dissolved.
  2. Add the cold water/ice mixture and stir for a couple minutes until the Jell-O starts to thicken. Remove the ice cubes with a slotted spoon.
  3. Whisk in the Cool Whip, then stir in the strawberries, if using.
  4. Chill for about 30 minutes, then stir again and add to the pie crust. Smooth the top with an offset spatula.
  5. Chill for 2-3 hours.

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March on Planet Byn {2015}

by byn on March 31, 2015

in Monthly Recaps

TJs Treats

Still waiting for Spring over here, but there were a lot of fun foodie adventures this month to distract me from the weather:

  • My month-long obsession, which is still continuing, is Take a Megabite’s Oatmeal cooked in Almond Milk. I usually just grab a packet of the no-name natural stuff (no flavouring, so sweetener) and doctor it up once I get to work with fruit, nuts, seeds etc. I tried Megabite’s method and I LOVE IT. Favourite right now is a bowl with banana slices, a drizzle of maple syrup and a sprinkle of chopped pecans.
  • Kupfert & Kim is a vegan + gluten-free lunch place in the PATH in Toronto and now has BURGERS, which is big news. Nicole and I met there for lunch and split the Hemp & Sunflower Burger on a gluten-free bun, and I really liked it. I went back the next week for the Big Kim (walnut + mushroom) burger, and I liked that even more. They come with a little kale slaw and a few roasted root vegetables. Pretty good for days when I don’t bring my lunch!
  • Switching gears totally here, but I couldn’t resist the lure of the new Jelly Modern Doughnuts which has opened near my office. I first had Jellys in Calgary a few years ago, and OMG, they are so dangerously good. I had my fave, a mini S’mores, and tried their doughnut of the week which was a Mars Bar doughnut, and picked up a couple more for my friend/hairstylist Kim.
  • I brought my workplace proximity associates to Smoque & Bones for dinner, because I’ve been dying to go back ever since Heather invited me to a blogger event there last year. We shared a little bit of everything: pork ribs, sausage, pulled pork, mac & cheese, onion rings, ‘slaw and cornbread. Seriously in love with this place.
  • I took a day off work and headed over the border with Meg & Jenny for a day of foodie shopping at Target & Trader Joe’s. I didn’t get too much at Target, just some Dark Chocolate & White Chocolate Mini Eggs which you can’t get up here, and honestly, nothing can top the milk chocolate ones! At Trader Joe’s I got some fresh pasta, cheese, TOMATO PASTE IN A TUBE (revolutionary! why can’t I get this here!) and then the treats you see pictured above. Oh TJ’s: when will you come to Toronto?
  • Carb Safari 2.0 went down in a day trip that I hope continues on a regular basis, wherein we drive up to Elora for bread from our friend Calantha, followed by lunch at Taco Farm. I had the Fries Supreme this time, and it was like, next level. (Read about my personal history with Taco Bell Fries Supreme here).
  • I probably haven’t stepped foot in a Milestone’s in like 10 years (you can find a rant from the archives here), but met my friends there for brunch to celebrate Mandy’s baby girl who will be here in a few weeks. I had a Spinach & Feta Omelet and you know what, it wasn’t half bad. Good for you Milestones!

Other non-foodie things I was obsessed with this month:

  • This month marked the 30th Anniversary of The Breakfast Club, one of my all-time favourite movies, so of course I re-read You Couldn’t Ignore Me if You Tried and then re-watched TBC.
  • I read a bunch of other books this month and would recommend The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry (Danielle recommended this) and The Vacationers (Danielle HATED this, but I LOVED it, we are only twins sometimes).
  • Grantland is one of my favourite websites for pop culture reads, but I sometimes read/watch some of their Sports stuff as well. This documentary, Son of the Congo, about NBA player Serge Ibaka is so well done and enlightening, and I shed more than a few tears by the time it was done.

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Lemony Jelly Roll

I’m so sick of complaining about the weather. We’re pretty much at the end of March, and have barely had temperatures above zero here, much less in double digits like I’m normally hoping for this time of year. I seriously can’t wait for Spring which I feel will bring me an improved mental state that will show on my face (bonus points if you know which 80s teen movie that comes from).

Anyway, this also explains why I was so excited to make this dessert, even though I have publicly declared my distaste for both citrus desserts and raspberries in the past. This cake just screams SPRING to me! It’s a thin, lemony sponge cake, filled with raspberry whipped cream. I was also very excited to try making a jelly roll cake, because I remember my Mom making one when I was little.

Lemony Slices

I decided to start making this at 9pm on Thursday night, which is usually a recipe for disaster, but it actually wasn’t as involved as I thought. The lemon sponge comes together easily, after you separate your eggs so you can whip the whites and fold them in later. The cake only bakes for about 8 minutes too, with a few gymnastics required (dusting, covering, flipping, rolling) once it comes out of the oven. You actually wrap the cake up in a tea towel to cool, and then unroll it when you’re ready to add the filling. My only problem here was that once I spread the whipped cream on the cake, I was so excited to roll it back up that I forgot to sprinkle the fresh raspberries over top. Oopsie. So i just lined them up on top instead.

Well it turns out that raspberry whipped cream is DELICIOUS and pairs perfectly with the lemony cake. Oh I also left out the lemon extract, but it was still plenty lemony with all the zest the recipe calls for.  I love, love, loved this, and it was just so pretty! This would be a perfect dessert for Easter.

Middle

You can find the recipe here!

More Baked Sunday Mornings here!

 

{ 8 comments }

Peanut Butter Pretzel Truffles

by byn on March 27, 2015

in Cookies, Gluten-Free

GF Treats

My lovely friend Aoife is getting married this May, and we celebrated her wedding shower a few weeks ago. I offered to bring treats, and they needed to be both gluten-free and dairy-free for the bride-to-be.

After consulting my Oh She Glows cookbook, a few other websites, and remembering what I made for her sister’s shower a few years ago, I decided to make:

Lydia came over to help out, and I had to laugh because she said she was excited to bake together – little did she know how bossy I am in the kitchen! She was a great helper/mixer/truffle roller, and we had everything done in a couple of hours. Lydia also learned a lot about the various uses of coconut oil (moisturizer, deodorant, replacement for butter in the cookies – ha!).

Everything turned out great, but my personal favourite was the Peanut Butter Pretzel Truffles. I bought a bag of GF pretzels for the first time, and they are totally delicious and freakishly crunchy! They stayed super crunchy in the truffles and I loved that salty/sweet combo. I love how something so simple can be also be so decadent, and the added bonus of no refined sugar.

Side note: How cute are these new gift boxes from the LCBO? (I got Aoife the wine cooler on her registry, and a bottle of wine to go with it from the winery where she’s getting married).

Cute Box

Peanut Butter Pretzel Truffles

Source: Minimalist Baker

Ingredients

3/4 cup raw almonds

1/2 cup pretzels (GF if needed, I used Glutino brand and am now obsessed)

1/2 cup pitted dates

1/2 cup smooth natural peanut butter

+ dark chocolate for dipping

Directions

  1. Add the almonds to your food processor, and process until they turn into coarse crumbs. Add the pretzels and process again until the pretzels are in small pieces. Pour mixture into a small bowl.
  2. Add the dates to the food processor, and process until it forms into a ball. Add peanut butter and process again until well combined with the dates.
  3. Reserve 1/4 cup of the almond/pretzel mixture, and add the rest back to the food processor. Process until combined.
  4. Roll dough into small bite-size balls. You can dip entirely in dark chocolate and sprinkle the reserved almond/pretzel mixture on top, or just dip half, or just drizzle with chocolate.
  5. Store in the fridge or freezer until ready to serve.

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S’mores Cookie Sandwiches

by byn on March 20, 2015

in Cookies, S'mores

S'mores Cookie Sandwiches

It’s well known that I have a serious love affair with S’mores and the holy trinity of graham + milk chocolate + marshmallow. This relationship hasn’t been without it’s trials and tribulations over the years though, all due to homemade marshmallow making in a variety of forms.

There was this pie, where the marshmallow never thickened; these cupcakes where the frosting of my dreams ended up drooping right off the cupcakes (instead of looking like this); and even two Baked Sunday Morning projects of cookies and pudding, where I could never quite get my marshmallow to thicken and billow like I needed it to.

And so while I’ve had these S’mores Cookie Sandwiches bookmarked for the last four years, I was scared I would have another disappointment. But then something pretty amazing happened. Last summer, while recipe testing for Baked Occasions, I had to make a marshmallow frosting for some Black Forest Cupcakes. And because I was in my recipe testing zone, I was patient and followed the recipe exactly, and lo and behold, IT WAS A SUCCESS! After 5 years of gloopy marshmallow, I finally had the puffy, pipe-able frosting of my dreams. I almost didn’t believe it, but I wondered if it was a fluke.

It wasn’t! I made it again last week for my Blog-iversary party, and it worked like a charm once again. Beautiful, shiny, thick swirls of marshmallow that I piped onto these cookies with a chorus of angels singing in the background. I basically can’t wait to re-make all those old disasters, and just need to procure a kitchen torch, and then I’ll be in business.

Side note: The cookie component here turned out a little too dense/thick for my liking, so I would experiment with something else next time, although they tasted really good.

S’mores Cookie Sandwiches

Source: Cookies from My Kitchen Addiction // Marshmallow filling from Baked Occasions

Ingredients

Cookies

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, room temperature

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup honey

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 egg

2 1/2 cups flour

+ sugar for rolling

Marshmallow Filling

3 egg whites, room temperature

3/4 cup sugar, divided

2 tbsp water

1/2 tbsp light corn syrup

1/2 tsp vanilla

+ melted milk chocolate for drizzling

Directions

  1. For cookies, line two cookie sheets with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 375.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, brown sugar, honey, baking powder, baking soda and salt until light and fluffy. Mix in the egg until well combined, then mix in the flour.
  3. Roll dough into balls, then roll in sugar and place on the baking sheet. Press down slightly then bake for 8-10 minutes. (I would err on the side of underbaking here). Let cool completely before filling.
  4. For marshmallow filling, add the egg whites to a large bowl and whip until soft peaks form. Set aside.
  5. In a medium saucepan, add 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp sugar, water and corn syrup and set over medium heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved, then increase the heat and add a candy thermometer, bring to 235 degrees and remove from heat.
  6. Sprinkle the remaining 2 tbsp sugar over the egg whites, mix on low, and slowly stream in the hot syrup until it is all incorporated. Mix on high and beat for about 7 minutes until thick, shiny and beautiful. Add the vanilla and mix again briefly until combined.
  7. To assemble, add the marshmallow filling to a piping bag with a large round tip. Pipe onto flat side of half the cookies, then add another cookie on top. Drizzle with melted milk chocolate.

 

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Creamy Peanut Butter Pie

by byn on March 18, 2015

in Pies & Tarts

Peanut Butter Pie

The second dessert I made for my Blog-iversary party is another one I’ve wanted to make for years, and has a bit of a back story behind it. In 2011, food writer and blogger Jennie Perillo lost her husband suddenly. In response to the outpouring of support and people asking what they could do to help, she said to make this pie and share it with someone you love. This went viral, and “Peanut Butter Pie for Mikey” posts took over the internet, and this was how I discovered Jennie and her story.

In 2013 Jennie released her first cookbook, Homemade with Love, and I met her in Toronto on her cookbook tour. She was so inspirational and positive and just generally amazing. I never forgot her story and I still check in on her blog to see how she’s doing and what’s going on in her kitchen.

Obviously I never forgot about this pie either, and was looking forward to finally making it. It has an Oreo cookie crust, and the most smooth, luscious peanut butter filling you can imagine. There’s also a layer of melted dark chocolate hiding underneath all that peanut butter.

Even though I’m about 4 years too late, it was still nice to make this and share it with friends who I love.

Creamy Peanut Butter Pie

Source: In Jennie’s Kitchen

Ingredients

Crust

12 oz Oreo cookies (filling and all)

1/4 cup + 2 tbsp (1/2 + 1/4 stick) butter, melted

Filling

4oz dark chocolate, finely chopped (I used Lindt 70%)

1 cup whipping cream

1 pkg cream cheese, room temperature

1 cup peanut butter

1 cup icing sugar

300mL can sweetened condensed milk

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp lemon juice

Directions

  1. Finely crush Oreos in a food processor. Pour in melted butter and pulse until combined. Press into the bottom of a 9″ springform pan. (Note: I bumped up the crust ingredients from the original recipe because I barely had enough crumbs to go up the sides. Also, don’t use a tart pan like I did, because the filling won’t all fit in OR make two tarts).
  2. Melt the dark chocolate and spread it over the bottom of the cookie crust.
  3. In a medium bowl, beat the whipped cream on high speed until stiff peaks form, then stick in the fridge while you prepare the rest of the filling.
  4. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and peanut butter together until light and fluffy. Mix in the icing sugar until smooth. Mix in the sweetened condensed milk, vanilla and lemon juice until smooth.
  5. Stir 1/3 of the whipped cream into the peanut butter filling, then gently fold in the remaining 2/3 whipped cream. Pour the filling into the cookie crust, spreading evenly with an offset spatula.
  6. I sprinkled a bit of dark chocolate shavings on the top as a garnish. Chill until ready to serve.

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Blog-iversary Line-up

Last weekend I had a few friends over to usher in Spring and celebrate 5 years of blogging. Yes, yes, y’all, the return of the Blog-iversary Party! After my 1st Blog-iversary Party in 2011, I just assumed I would throw one of these every year, but you know, new jobs, root canals, and general winter blahs got in the way. All that to say that I have literally had this recipe bookmarked for 4 years and was pretty excited to finally make it.

So I wouldn’t necessarily consider myself a cheesecake fanatic, but I love it when cheesecake is a component in something else. For example, these Smitten Kitchen brownies are one of my favourite treats of life, but I rarely make them because I will eat the entire pan without sharing. So you can see the attraction to this chocolate cake, which has an entire layer of cheesecake in the middle.

Inside

This cake is actually an ideal dessert for entertaining, because you can make the cake layers AND the cheesecake layer in advance and freeze them. This makes it easy to stack up the layers the morning of your gathering, and then all you need to do is add some frosting.

There are endless combinations of cake and cheesecake you could go with here, and the original version on Erin’s Food Files is a red velvet cake with a plain vanilla cheesecake filling. I decided to go with a classic chocolate cake, a chocolate chip cheesecake filling, and cookie dough icing (you can see I actually brainstormed this cake back in 2012).

I used this Cookie Dough Icing, but didn’t find it to be an ideal match since it’s quite thick/heavy and so is the cheesecake filling. Next time I would go with something light and fluffy, maybe a brown sugar buttercream, to provide more of a contrast to the filling. But truly, who are we kidding, this was amazing. I can’t wait to make it again!

Slice Line-up

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Cake

Source: Erin’s Food Files, although I used my favourite Chocolate Cake recipe from Anna Olson

Ingredients

Cake

1/2 cup water

4 oz unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped

2 tsp espresso powder

1 3/4 cup cake & pastry flour

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla

1 cup sour cream

Cheesecake

2 1/2 packages cream cheese, room temperature

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla

1/4 tsp salt

2 eggs

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Icing

Choose your own frosting adventure!

Directions

  1. For cake, line two 9″ cake pans with parchment paper and spray with non-stick spray, and preheat oven to 350.
  2. In a small saucepan, heat the water, chocolate and espresso powder over medium-low heat, and stir until melted. Set aside to cool while you get the other ingredients ready.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, beat the butter, sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in the eggs and vanilla, then the cooled chocolate mixture.
  5. Add the dry ingredients, alternating with the sour cream, until everything is combined (I did three additions of dry ingredients, two additions of sour cream).
  6. Divide batter into the two pans and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Let cool in pans for 20 minutes or so, then invert onto cooling racks. Cool completely, then wrap each layer twice in plastic wrap and once in tin foil and freeze until firm.
  7. For cheesecake, first get your pan ready. Line the bottom of a 9″ springform pan with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 325.
  8. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the sugar, vanilla and salt and beat again until combined. Add the eggs and beat until incorporated, then mix in the sour cream until smooth. Use a spatula to fold in the mini chocolate chips.
  9. Pour batter into the prepared pan. Bake until just set in the middle, about 45 minutes. Let cool a bit then stick in the fridge and chill overnight. In the morning, remove the ring from the pan, and wrap the cheesecake twice in plastic wrap and once in tin foil (do not remove the bottom of the pan). Freeze until firm.
  10. When ready to assemble, unwrap all the layers. Place one cake layer on a cake stand or platter. Use a knife to gently remove the bottom of the springform pan from the cheesecake (it will pop right off) and place on top of the cake. Top with the final cake layer. I suppose you could add layers of icing between the cake and the cheesecake, but I don’t think you need it.
  11. Crumb coat the whole thing in your icing of choice, chill for 30 minutes, then frost with a final layer and decorate with chocolate chips.

{ 1 comment }

Texas Sheet Cake

Texas Sheet Cake isn’t really a thing up here in the Great White North. I hadn’t heard of it until about 2008 when I started reading food blogs, and saw The Pioneer Woman’s recipe. Her recipe is a thin chocolate cake that you top with a boiled chocolate and pecan frosting, and it’s supposed to be a no muss, no fuss affair. I finally made one a few years ago, although the icing component of the recipe I used was kind of a disaster (you can actually see it over here, check out #37).

I was excited to make one again for this week’s Baked Sunday Morning, because it’s always fun to tackle a recipe that didn’t work well in the past, but especially since the Baked boys put their own twist on it. Their recipe also has a thin chocolate cake base, but is topped with a peanut butter frosting and chopped peanuts. My own little twist was to sprinkle mini chocolate chips overtop, because while I love peanut butter, for some odd reason I don’t love actual peanuts in my treats.

Texas Sheet Cake Slice

The cake base was quick and easy to mix up, and I followed my friend Dafna’s advice and used a 4 qt saucepan, because the chocolate mixture you have to boil bubbles up pretty aggressively. The cake bakes up quickly in about 15 minutes, and you have to start making the frosting as soon as it goes into the oven, because the frosting has to be poured over the cake while it’s hot. The peanut butter frosting is very different from a traditional buttercream; instead you need to bring evaporated milk, butter, peanut butter and salt to a boil in a saucepan, and mix it into a pile of icing sugar. It’s very runny and more like a glaze, which then gets poured over the hot chocolate cake.

I cut my cake while it was room temperature, but you’ll get cleaner cuts if you chill it in the fridge before slicing. The cake component is super hydrated, and not that sweet, which balances out the peanut butter frosting. So far, the slice I tried was room temperature, but the boys note that they prefer this cake chilled, so I’ll try another slice tomorrow from the fridge. One final thing: the recipe calls for 1/4 cup shortening which I didn’t have, so I just left it out to no ill effect.

TEXAS (SHEET CAKE) FOREVER!

You can find the recipe here!

More Baked Sunday Mornings here!

{ 9 comments }

February on Planet Byn {2015} + Vegas Eats

by byn on February 28, 2015

in General

Bouchon Remnants

I jinxed myself last month, talking about how I didn’t find January all that bad, because of course it all came crashing down in February. I was in major grumpy hibernation mode, but luckily had a quick trip to Las Vegas at the end of the month to look forward to:

  • Nicole came over for dinner and we had an old favourite (Cheesy Butternut Squash Rigatoni) and my current obsession (Sarah’s Kale Salad). This is counting as my Gathering of the month!
  • When Danielle came to visit a few years ago we went to Pizzeria Libretto on Ossington and it was so amazingly delicious, but I sadly haven’t been back with such a long list of other places I want to try. Luckily a new location has opened near my office and I went for lunch with some workplace proximity associates. I had the House-made Sausage pizza and added tomato sauce, and it immediately shot directly to the top of my Financial District Pizza Power Rankings.
  • I flew to Vegas to meet my parents and celebrate my Dad’s 70th birthday!!! We had a super fun three days, and of course fit in some good eats. While my Dad was on a helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon, my Mom and I went to brunch at Bouchon Bistro in the Venetian. I’m not sure anything I write here can do this meal justice. We shared a Croque Madame with frites, a warm goat cheese salad, and the flakiest croissant I have ever had. We couldn’t stop exclaiming over how delicious everything was and my Mom even took pictures of everything with her new iPhone (this is what happens when you travel with a food blogger). It was perfection.
  • The famous cupcakery Sprinkles has opened up a location near the new hotel The Linq and THERE IS A CUPCAKE ATM. I can’t handle the cuteness. I have never actually had a Sprinkles cupcake before, although Kristine brought me back a mix from LA a million years ago. I got two cupcakes: Salted Caramel & Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip. I think they were honestly the best cupcakes I’ve eaten in my life.
  • For my Dad’s special birthday dinner, we went to Jean Georges Steakhouse in the Aria Hotel. My parents both had fish (chilean sea bass + salmon), I had the crispy beef short rib, and we ordered butternut squash gratin and roasted brussels sprouts as our sides. Everything was great, and I loved the vibe. Would definitely recommend if you need a fancy dinner while you’re in Sin City.
  • On our final night we ate at Gordon Ramsay’s Pub & Grill in our hotel (Caesar’s) and I had a top notch Chicken, Bacon & Kale Pot Pie, and my parents had the Shepherd’s Pie (which was actually lamb stew topped with Cheddar Mashed Potatoes). I feel the need to recreate both these dishes at home.

Other non-foodie things I was obsessed with this month:

  • We went to see Britney in Vegas and the show was so much fun! Hearing all her old songs totally takes me back to my university days, and then when I got home I downloaded all the new songs I’ve missed over the last few years. Obsessed with “Till The World Ends”.
  • Parks & Recreation wrapped up it’s last season and I LOVED the final episode, where it had flash forwards to all the main characters’ futures so you see where they ended up. Makes me want to re-watch the entire series from the beginning! I will also now exclusively refer to my co-workers as workplace proximity associates.
  • Kristine and I love a good teen comedy so we went to see The Duff and laughed so hard!
  • My friend Kirk loaned me his copy of Bad Feminist which was such an insightful read. In Vegas I read The Girl on the Train, which is worth all the hype, although I found the main character so unlikeable. I also read Someone Else’s Love Story from an author I love, Joshilyn Jackson.

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