Mini Apple Pies (for Pi Day!)

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Pie for pi day!

I halved a chowhound recipe to make just enough dough for two small pies + extra dough for cutouts to decorate the top with (using a cookie cutter).

Pie crust:

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 stick)
  • 2-4 tablespoons ice water
  • lemon zest, optional

Instructions: Combine flour, salt, and sugar, (and lemon zest if using) in food processor and pulse a few times. Add in butter and pulse again until butter is about pea-sized. Remove blade from food processor. Drizzle 2 tablespoons ice water and mix using spoon. Add another 1-2 tablespoons of ice water, if necessary for dough to come together– try not to add more than you really need.

 

Filling:

  • Two apples, diced: one Granny Smith, one red one (for a balance of sweet and tart)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar (or regular sugar if that’s all you have)
  • zest from half a lemon
  • juice from half a lemon
  • spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, and/or ginger

Instructions: Melt butter in pan on medium, then add diced apples to pan. Add salt, brown sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, and spices. Continue to cook until apples are soft. Remove from heat and let cool in the fridge.

 

Pie:

Roll out pie dough and then place into small pie pans– or just into circles to make a galette if you don’t have small pie pans. Add cooled filling, and then top with some more rolled out pie dough. You can make fun shapes here, or just do something standard/boring, it doesn’t matter because either way it will be delicious. Allow to cool/firm up in fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350F. Bake pies until dough is crispy and golden brown.

Chocolate Cake & Vegan Ganache

ganache

birthday cake

I made this cake for Paul’s 21st birthday, and then again yesterday for his 24th! This time around we are both lactose-intolerant so I made a few adjustments in the recipe for that.

Cake

Ingredients
-1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
-2/3 cup natural unsweetened cocoa
-1 1/2 cup sugar
-1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
-1 teaspoon baking powder
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-2 eggs
-1/2 cup vegetable oil
-2 teaspoons vanilla
-3/4 cup milk (I used almond milk this time)
-2/3 cup hot water

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease the bottom of two 9-inch cake pans. Then place parchment paper cut to size on the bottom of each pan and grease paper. Dust pans with cocoa.
  3. Sift dry ingredients together and place in a large mixing bowl.
  4. Add eggs, oil, milk and vanilla and beat for a couple of minutes until combined.
  5. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add hot water and mix together.
  6. Pour into prepared pans and bake for about 28-30 minutes. Batter will be very liquid.
  7. Cool for about 5 minutes in the pan. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Ganache- Recipe from here

Ingredients:

  • 10 oz. semisweet chocolate (Chopped or whole chocolate bar– NOT chips!- they won’t melt as well.)
  • ½ cup non-dairy milk

Directions:

  1. Chop the chocolate into ¼ inch pieces. Place these pieces into a double boiler or a medium saucepan.
  2. Add the non-dairy milk. Stir constantly on low heat until all the chocolate pieces are melted. Once all the pieces are melted, remove from heat and whisk in any flavoring liquids if desired.
  3. Use the mixture while it’s warm or wait for it to cool depending on your application.
    This recipe makes about 1 ¼ cups of Easy Vegan Ganache depending on the ratio of non-dairy milk.

pink velvet funfetti cake

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making this cake was a little weird because i didn’t have access to the right kind of sprinkles! (i had the right kind, but only in halloween colors.) we are headed to a family wedding on paul’s birthday this year, so i wanted to surprise him early with a cake when we have friends over for dinner. only problem was that i could only shop for ingredients and make the cake once he went to bed last night at 11pm. so, grocery stores were closed and i headed to walgreens instead! all they had was funfetti icing (vanilla icing + a container of sprinkles on top). awesome, but when i got home i realized that it was only about 1/4 cup of sprinkles and they recipe called for 2/3 cup. grabbed whatever i could find, including some weird red sprinkles that turned the whole cake pink– didn’t like that, so i added about 1 teaspoon of cocoa powder to the mix. then just chocolate icing, vanilla icing for the text, and peanut butter M&Ms to decorate on top. finally got to bed at 2:15am!

so, that leaves us with “pink velvet funfetti” cake. i will post an update later with what the cake looks like when we cut into it! : P

anyways, here is the recipe.  i essentially followed the recipe, but used almond milk instead of regular milk, added fewer sprinkles, added red crystal sprinkles that basically melted into red food dye, and added about 1 teaspoon of cocoa powder.

monster chocolate/ peanut butter brownies

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partly adapted from betty crocker

base layer:

1 box brownie mix, meant for 8 x 8 inch pan. make mix according to directions, and spread it over a 9 x 13 inch pan. (don’t forget nonstick spray!)

middle layer:

15-ish mini reese’s cups, unwrapped, cut into fourths, and sprinkled evenly over brownie batter

top layer: 

peanut butter cookie recipe:

    1 1/3 cups packed brown sugar
    1/4 cup butter, melted
    1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (i used super-chunk because that’s what we had at home)
    1 teaspoon vanilla
    3 eggs
    1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    3/4 teaspoon baking powder
    1/4 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    36 miniature chocolate-covered peanut butter cup candies, unwrapped (from 15.6-oz bag)
  • Heat oven to 350°F (if using dark or nonstick pan, heat oven to 325°F)
  • In large bowl, beat brown sugar, butter, peanut butter, vanilla and eggs with electric mixer on medium speed, or mix with spoon, until well blended. Stir in flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. spread over brownie batter.
  • Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown.

texas sheet cake

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from the book “vintage cakes” that ali got me for christmas!

  • CAKE

1 cup unsalted butter

1/2 cup lightly packed unsweetened cocoa

3 tbs canola oil

1 cup water

2 cups ap flour

2 cups white sugar

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 eggs

1/2 cup buttermilk

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

  • FROSTING

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1/4 cup lightly packed unsweetened cocoa

1/3 cup whole milk

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

3 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar

1/2 cup toasted chopped nuts

  • INSTRUCTIONS

Center an oven rack and preheat the oven to 375F.
To make the cake, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in
the cocoa. Add the oil and water and bring to a rolling boil for 30 seconds. Remove the
pan from the heat and set it aside to cool slightly. Meanwhile, sift together the flour,
sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl, then whisk the ingredients by hand to
ensure they are well mixed. Pour the warm cocoa mixture into the sifted ingredients
and whisk until just combined. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk,
and vanilla. With a rubber spatula, stir the buttermilk mixture into the batter. Pour the
batter into the greased pan and place in the center of the oven. Bake until the top is
firm and a wooden skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out with moist
crumbs, 32 to 35 minutes.
While the cake is in the oven, make the frosting: melt the butter in a saucepan over
medium heat. Whisk in the cocoa and bring the mixture to a rolling boil; boil for 30
seconds. Remove from heat and whisk in the milk and vanilla. Add the confectioners’
sugar 1 cup at a time while whisking continuously. Immediately after the cake comes out
of the oven, pour the frosting over the hot cake and sprinkle with the nuts. Try not to
jiggle the cake before it sets or you’ll leave waves in the frosting. Allow to cool before
cutting into squares.
Well wrapped and stored at room temperature, this cake keeps for up to 5 days.

chocolate cake with buttercream and ganache

from bakerella: http://www.bakerella.com/just-a-cake/

happy 21st birthday paul and colin! everyone needs to make this cake– it’s amazing and delicious and pretty easy. YUM.

Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Frosting …and a good amount of ganache!

Chocolate Cake:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup natural unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 cup milk
2/3 cup hot water

Buttercream Frosting:
1 1/2 cups butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

6 cups powdered sugar
4-8 Tablespoons milk

2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels, if desired

Chocolate Ganache:
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup butter
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels

For the cake:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Grease the bottom of two 9-inch cake pans. Then place parchment paper cut to size on the bottom of each pan and grease paper. Dust pans with cocoa.
  • Sift dry ingredients together and place in a large mixing bowl.
  • Add eggs, oil, milk and vanilla and beat for a couple of minutes until combined.
  • Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add hot water and mix together.
  • Pour into prepared pans and bake for about 28-30 minutes. Batter will be very liquid.
  • Cool for about 5 minutes in the pan. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

For the frosting:

  • Beat the butter in a mixer until smooth.
  • Add vanilla and mix until combined.
  • Add the powdered sugar in several additions, scraping down the sides after each addition.
  • Add milk a tablespoon at a time and mix together until you achieve a smooth consistency.
  • Note: If you want your frosting whiter without using shortening, add a little white icing color to tint.

For the ganache:

  • Heat cream and butter in a saucepan until melted and remove before it starts to boil.
  • Place chocolate morsels in a small bowl and pour cream on top. Let sit for a few seconds and whisk by hand until completely incorporated and smooth.
  • Let cool until thick and pourable.
  • The ganache can take a bit to thicken. You can make it before the buttercream, to save time. Just use a wire whisk to stir it every few minutes and keep it smooth

To assemble: Place one layer bottom side up on cake stand. Spread frosting on top of bottom layer. Place second layer on top. It helps to have a crumb coat on the outside of your cake first. Simply apply a thin coat of frosting to the entire cake to catch any excess crumbs. Then place cake in freezer for a few minutes to firm up frosting and cover the entire cake again with a thick layer of buttercream. This will help you keep all those crumbs from getting caught in your pretty work. Slowly, pour ganache over center of cake. Pour just enough to start dripping down the sides.