Quick Eats: Red Velvet Lava Cakes

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Remember at the end of February when I said I intended on sharing a recipe for what I considered to be the greatest dessert ever? Well, here it is- unless you don’t like red velvet cake, of course- in which case please get far, far away from me. I will side-eye you into the next century.

A look at any of my birthday celebrations over the past few years is all the documentation anyone would ever need to see I love anything red velvet (and I only recently ran out of a limited edition red velvet-scented body wash that Bath & Body Works created a couple of months ago for the holiday season.) The only thing I may love more than the cake itself is miniature indulgent versions of it- or any dessert, really. I’m all about small- but satisfying- portions of cakes/pastries/sugary snacks. Less goes to waste and I’m less inclined to overeat/put myself into a food coma when I have a tinier serving on my plate.

When I first laid eyes on the recipe for these little, round and personal red velvet lava cakes- I knew I had to give them a try. How could I not?!

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WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

* 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

* 1 tablespoon cocoa powder

* Pinch of salt

* 4 tablespoons unsalted butter

* 1½ ounces semisweet chocolate

* ½ cup confectioners’ sugar, plus more for finishing

* 1 egg

* 1 egg yolk

* ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

* 2 teaspoons red food coloring

OKAY, HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

1. Preheat your oven to 425°F. Lightly grease two ramekins (or two cavities of a muffin pan) with nonstick spray.

2. In a small bowl, whisk the flour with the cocoa powder and pinch of salt to combine.

3. In a medium-sized, heat-safe bowl, melt the butter and chocolate in 15-second intervals in the microwave until melted and smooth.

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4. Stir in the confectioners’ sugar into the butter and melted chocolate mixture until well combined. From there- add the egg, egg yolk, vanilla extract and food coloring- and stir until well combined.

5. Add your now red-tinted concoction to the whisked flour, cocoa powder and salt. Mix thoroughly until there are no lumps.

6. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared ramekins. Bake until set at the edges but still soft in the center, approximately 13 to 15 minutes. Let cool for 3 to 5 minutes inside the pan, then un-mold each cake onto a plate.

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7. Serve warm- immediately- and garnish with confectioners’ sugar.

8. Don’t burn the roof of your mouth as you inhale your serving of molten deliciousness!

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These little cakes came out so much better than I could have ever anticipated- and the inside was cooked to gooey, warm and sweet perfection. I served these prior to Sunday night’s sit-down for the latest ‘Walking Dead’ episode and they were a big hit!

I can imagine that if you substitute a few of the ingredients, you could probably make all sorts of flavor variations of these cakes with minimal effort or disaster. I’m tempted to try my hand at a dark chocolate or more fruity/lemon version the next time!

… But not after I make a few more red velvet ones, first.

xx

Planes, Cakes and Automobiles

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The view from my hotel room! 1.23.15

Hello from my hotel room in Downtown San Diego! I arrived in SoCal late yesterday afternoon for a long weekend of sun, sand, Mexican food, and some rest and relaxation. My 29th birthday was this past Thursday- and since I’ve spent pretty much every celebration of my getting yet another year older bundled up in frigid New England temperatures- I thought a couple of days in warmer weather would be a nice change and do me some good.

So far I’ve spent a little time working out, breaking into even more of a sweat in the sauna, and indulging in a little pampering- and I’m planning on doing some shopping this morning before I head to the beach and then meet up with some local friends for dinner and drinks later on tonight.

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Last year for my birthday, my mom surprised me with a small party where she went above and beyond to satisfy my love of all things “The Walking Dead.” This year, knowing how excited I am for “Avengers: Age of Ultron” to be released in the Spring- she decided to stick with a Marvel (and specifically Captain America,) themed party at her house for me with some of my family because even though I’m 29 now- on the cusp of 30- I can still love and appreciate cute toys to add to my growing display of nerd-dom.

I especially loved the chocolate “Hail Ashley” cake, a play on the Marvel baddies, HYDRA- which was so good it was practically evil (see what I did there?) The cake was also huge- so at least I know when I get back to my place from California next week I’ll have more than enough pieces waiting for me!

I can’t wait to see what she does when I turn the big 3-0 next year.

Quick Eats: Clementine Cake

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One of the best movies I’ve seen in recent years has to be Ben Stiller’s “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.” The story. The visuals. The soundtrack. The entire film is beautiful from start to finish and is one of the only movies I can recall leaving the theater after seeing and not only being moved to tears by how perfect it was- but feeling immensely satisfied- like every dime that had been spent on my ticket was worth it.

I’ve since watched the movie a handful of times On-Demand, each viewing just as enjoyable as the last- and the most recent being just the other night. One of the minor, but re-occurring plot devices in the film is the clementine cake Walter’s Mom (played by Shirley MacLaine,) bakes. No spoilers here- because I highly recommend anyone who hasn’t seen the movie yet watches it as soon as humanly possible- but I felt inspired to try my hand at baking my own!

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YOU WILL NEED:

* Food processor

* 8-9 inch springform pan

* Parchment paper

* 6 eggs

* 5-6 clementines

* 1 1/4 cup of white granulated sugar

* 2 1/4 cup of ground almonds

* 1 teaspoon of baking powder

OKAY, HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

1. Pre-heat your oven to 375°F.

2. While the oven heats up, butter the springform pan and line with cut and fitted parchment paper.

3. Poke washed clementines 5-6 times with a knife or fork before placing in a covered, microwave-safe dish/bowl and heating for 3-4 minutes or until the clementines are soft and mushy.

4. After letting the clementines cool for a few minutes, place them- peel and all- into the food processor and grind until they reach a smooth, puréed texture.

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5. Beat the 6 eggs and 1 1/4 cups of sugar in a large mixing bowl until the mixture is light in color and thick in consistency.

6. Add the puréed clementines, the 2 1/4 cup of ground almonds, and the teaspoon of baking powder to the eggs and sugar and continue thoroughly mixing.

7. Pour the mixture into the springform pan and bake in the oven for approximately 45 minutes. It may need to stay in for a little longer to ensure the middle is cooked through and evenly. If this happens, be sure to cover the top of the cake with a thin layer of tin foil to prevent the surface and edges from getting burnt.

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8. After removing the cake from the oven, let it cool. Once it’s cold- and therefore won’t crumble into pieces on contact- remove the pan and parchment paper. Glaze and decorate.

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To create the glaze, I just mixed some powdered sugar, a little butter, and a cup of freshly squeezed clementine juice- and topped the cake with some candied sliced clementines (simmered sugar and water!) The total cooking time, sans-cooling the cake pre-decorating- was about an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes- and the cake can serve up to 8 or 10 people!

And of course, the last step to this recipe is to stuff your face, (and be sure to bring a few slices along when you set off on an adventure into the unknown- just like Walter Mitty!) The cake is decadent, tangy, and goes really well with a nice cup of coffee or tea!

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And to close out this fun foodie post, here is my favorite quote from the movie- taken from a screen-grab as Walter examines a gift left for him in the beginning of the film. The saying, the “Life Magazine” motto, is lovely- and has become my mantra for 2015 because of how powerful it is.

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xx

Baking Post: Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

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For as long as I can remember, my mom always made “Pineapple Upside-Down Cake” for every holiday, family function, special occasion, etc. It was sort of like fruitcake- always just, there, on the table (except it was much, much tastier than a fruitcake)- but it’s always been a sort of tradition in her house.

I had a craving for it tonight, and decided to make one myself. The recipe is simple enough, and if you’ve got an hour or so, it’s a nice change from a standard scoop of ice cream or cookie for dessert.

YOU WILL NEED:

* Butter.

* Brown sugar.

* 1 Springform pan.

* 1 Box of yellow cake mix (the brand is entirely up to you- just make sure it’s yellow cake).

* 1 Can of sliced pineapples.

* 1 Jar of maraschino cherries.

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OKAY, HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

1. First, you are going to use butter to “grease” the bottom of your springform pan. Make sure it’s covered to avoid any sticking. If you’re not a fan of butter, any non-stick spray should do the trick.

2. Cover the bottom of the pan with the brown sugar. Don’t be stingy. You can use a lot and it won’t ruin the cake.

3. Place the pineapple slices on top of the brown sugar.

4. Place maraschino cherries in the center of each pineapple slice. From here, you can feel free to add more brown sugar on top of the pineapple slices and cherries.

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5. Preheat your oven to 350°. While the oven is heating up, prepare your yellow cake mixture as instructed on the box.

6. Pour the mixed yellow cake batter on top of your brown sugar/pineapple/cherry concoction.

7. Place pan inside oven and bake for approximately 50 minutes-1 hour. Be sure to do the toothpick test every so often to make sure your cake is cooked all the way through.

8. When your cake is done baking in the oven, let it sit on a cooling rack for 10-15 minutes. *BE CAREFUL: THE BROWN SUGAR WILL BE REALLY HOT* Heed my warning- I learned that the hard way.

9.  Once cooled, flip your cake over onto a serving dish.

10. OPEN FOOD HOLE. SHOVE CAKE INSIDE.

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It came out pretty good- at least good enough where I know my mom would be proud of my efforts- although I can’t say for sure that I’ll carry on her tradition of baking one for every gathering I have with family and friends.

It’d be kinda’ funny, though.

xx