My favorite munchkin is going through a Space Phase. Rockets, Planets, Robots — we are enjoying discovering them all. For his sixth birthday, I attempted a rocket ship themed cake (not my best creation):

Rocket Fail

So when I found a cool space ship cake pan, I had to get it and try again. This time, I used a moist dark chocolate cake and decorated it with whipped cream and berries instead of frosting.

One note: This is my first time baking with Zulka Morena Sugar, a not-to-sweet unrefined sugar from sugar cane grown with no GMOs on small farms that use sustainable farming practices. I was very pleased with the result.

Ingredients:

2 sticks of unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 large brown cage-free eggs
4 tablespoons Hershey’s Dark cocoa powder
2 teaspoons vanilla
7 ounces (1 container) of plain 2% greek yogurt
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup very hot water
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
2 cups very cold heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons sugar
assorted berries, washed and sliced

How I Made It:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and prepare two cake pans with baking spray. (This recipe filled the rocket pan and a small loaf pan.)

In a standing mixer, beat the butter and 2 cups of sugar together on medium speed until combined. Sift the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a separate bowl.

Add the eggs to the butter mixture one at a time, and then the vanilla, beating to combine.  Add the cocoa powder one tablespoon at a time, mixing at a medium-low speed (otherwise it will POOF and make a mess).

Mix in the yogurt at medium-low speed.  Slow the mixer and then add the dry ingredients in three batches (be careful of the dreaded POOF). You’ll have a thick batter.

Turn the mixer off before slowly pouring the hot water into the batter. Turn it on the lowest speed so the hot water doesn’t slosh out. You can speed it up a bit as it combines. Now you’ll have a thin, watery batter.  Add the chocolate chips as the last step.

Pour the batter into the cake pans. Bake them in the center of the oven for 45 minutes or until a cake tester comes away clean but for a few crumbs. Let the cakes cool completely before decorating.

Don’t make the whipped cream until right before you want to decorate and serve the cake. Chill the mixing bowl and whisk in the freezer for 30 minutes prior to making the whipped cream.  Assemble the bowl and whisk on the mixer, and then pour the whipping cream into the mixing bowl. Whip the cream on high speed until it starts to peak. Sprinkle the cream with the two tablespoons of sugar and continue to whip it until it reaches a thick consistency.  Be careful not go too far or you’ll end up with butter.

Top the cake with whipped cream and decorate with the berries.

How It Turned Out:

Out of this world!

IMG_0756 (2)

Okay — really it’s just a yummy chocolate cake with sweet fruit and cream. Getting to share it with such a bright star is what made it special.

IMG_0761 (2)

I thought I’d found the perfect bread recipe. I was wrong.  This recipe from Stephanie at Girl versus Dough resulted in the most glorious loaves of bread yet.

I made these loaves without the oats, and I used my trick of letting the dough rise in the oven.  This is before baking:

Bread Before Baking

And this is after:

Bread After Baking

Lovely!

These brownies are a delightful concoction that benefited from a lack of planning.

A friend asked for something super chocolaty to inspire us at our annual independent living center board retreat, so of course I agreed to whip something up. Assuming I had all the necessaries, I woke up early to bake before our meeting — only to discover a serious lack of white sugar and no brown sugar.  What is a girl to do in such dire straits?  Improvise!!  And so were born these Dark Chocolate Maple Cinnamon Brownies.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon espresso powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter
6 cage free organic eggs
18 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
¾ cup organic sugar
3 tablespoons 100% maple syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

How I Made Them:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare a large 9×12 glass baking dish with baking spray.

Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl, sifting together with a fork until thoroughly combined.  Put the chocolate chips in a very large mixing bowl. In a glass bowl, melt the butter in the microwave.

Pour the melted butter over the chocolate chips and stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth.  (You may need to microwave the chocolate a bit to get all the way to smooth.)  When the chocolate and butter are smoothly combined, add the sugar and then the maple syrup. Stir until combined before adding the eggs in two batches, stirring to mix everything well between the two. Add the vanilla and give it one more stir.

Mix the dry ingredients into the chocolate mixture in three batches, combining thoroughly in between each batch. You will have a thick batter.

Transfer the batter to the prepared baking dish. Bake in the center of the oven for 25 minutes or until a cake tester comes away with a little chocolate crumb. Let the brownies cool a bit before serving.

How They Turned Out:

Dense, very chocolaty, not too sweet — the perfect base for a fudge sundae or a pile of homemade whipped cream.

Brownies

I have a friend who only eats food from the four basic food groups — pizza, hamburgers, cashew chicken, and chocolate cake. So for his birthday we went for pizza and I made this great cake.

It’s a basic, no-fail chocolate cake recipe with an accidental twist. The ganache turned out to be a “chocolate chip ganache” because I let it harden too much before whipping, which resulted in little crunchy bits of chocolate throughout the creamy frosting.

Ingredients:

Cake

1 cup of unsalted butter, softened
2 cups organic granulated sugar
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder
3 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
2 tbs instant espresso dissolved in 1 cup very hot water

Ganache

12 ounces Guittard chocolate chips
1 cup of heavy cream

How I  Made It:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and prepare two 9 inch cake pans with baker’s spray and/or parchment.

In a standing mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy.  While that’s going, put all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl, sifting with a fork to combine thoroughly.

When the butter is light and fluffy, add the eggs one at a time. Then add the dry ingredients in three batches, alternating with the buttermilk. When that’s all combined, turn the mixer to low speed and slowly pour in the hot coffee. The bowl of the mixer will be full, so be careful not to splash yourself with hot cake batter. (I speak from experience.)

Transfer the batter to the cake pans, filling each 3/4 full. Bake the cakes for 35-40 minutes, or until a cake tester comes away clean but for a few crumbs. Let the cakes cool about 10 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack to come to room temperature.

To make the ganache, put the chocolate chips in a large heatproof bowl. Heat the cream in a glass bowl in the microwave in 15 second bursts until it is very hot but not boiling. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let it sit a minute or two before whisking the chocolate smooth. Chill the ganache in the refrigerator for 2 hours (or more if you want to recreate my accidental chippiness).

With a rubber spatula, transfer the ganache to the standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. On medium-high speed, whip the ganache into lovely frosting.

To assemble the cake, carefully level the top of one of the layers with a long serrated knife. That is the bottom layer. Spread 1/2 of the whipped ganache on the bottom layer. Put the top layer on and frost with the rest of the ganache.  Decorate as you please.

How It Turned Out:

Brians Cake

Yummy! Not too dense, not too crumby, and not too sweet. Just wonderful chocolate goodness. (It is probably even better with vanilla ice cream.)

Radio silence here at In the Kitchen with Kate is due in large part to just too many goings on and too little time to blog. Hopefully that has changed, or at least I’ll start picking easier meals to prepare so that they are easier to share. This hasselback potato recipe is about as easy as they come.

Ingredients:

1 organic baking potato, washed and peeled
2 tbs of unsalted butter
sea salt

How I Made It:

Preheat the oven to 435 degrees. Line a small baking dish or cookie sheet with foil.

If your potato won’t sit steady on the sheet, slice a little off the bottom so it will. Then slice the potato into thinnish but not too thin slices, about three-quarters of the way through. Use the handles of two wooden spoons, one on each side, to help prevent cutting all the way through.

Rub butter over the top of the potato and sprinkle with sea salt.  Bake the potato for 15 minutes, then add a little more butter and salt and bake for another 15-25 minutes, checking every five minutes or so (the size of the potato will dictate the cooking time).

hasselback 1 (2)

How It Turned Out:

While I’ve heard about these Swedish marvels, I’ve never made hasselback potatoes before. So I don’t know if these turned out “right,” but they were quite tasty. They were cooked through, but still firm. The butter drizzled down while the potato cooked so the bottom was a crisp golden brown. It was salty and buttery and just plain yummy.  So if this isn’t a proper hassleback potato, who cares?!?!

hasselback 2

This is a take on a traditional Italian cake. It is a relatively easy cake to make, and oh so delicious.

Ingredients

1 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter
1 1/3 cups of sugar
8 ounces part skim ricotta
3 eggs
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
zest of 2 large lemons
1 1/2 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

How I Made It

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare a bundt cake pan with bakers’ spray.

In a standing mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. While that is going, in a separate bowl sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together.

Add the ricotta cheese to the butter and sugar and mix completely.  Then add the eggs one at a time, mixing completely in between each.  Add the lemon zest and the extracts.

Slow the mixer and add the dry ingredients in three batches, mixing completely in between.  The resulting cake batter is more doughy than most batters.

Transfer the cake batter to the bundt pan and spread it evenly with a spatula.  Bake the cake in the center of the oven for 38 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

How It Turned Out

Lemon Cake

You can serve this lovely cake with a basic lemon glaze, or with berries and whipped cream, or both!!

At some point this Fall, I decided I was going to eat granola and yogurt every morning for breakfast.  Nevermind that I never eat breakfast. Or that I’m not a big fan of granola. Thus, I have several packages of granola laying around and no desire to eat them.  Unless. . .

If you can make oatmeal cookies, can’t you make granola cookies?  That’s not a huge leap of logic, is it?  So, instead of toast and jam this morning I decided to make these breakfast cookies.

Ingredients

1 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup of brown sugar
1/2 cup of sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
3 overripe bananas
3 cups of granola (I used Nature Valley Oats and Dark Chocolate)
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

How I Made Them

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line 4 cookie sheets with parchment or silpats.

In a standing mixer, cream the butter and sugars together until it is light and fluffy. Reduce the speed of the mixer to medium and add the egg and vanilla.  Add the bananas in pieces (if you are not using a stand mixer, mash them up before adding them to the cookie dough).

In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, and cinnamon together.  Add the flour mixture to the standing mixer and combine on low-medium speed.  Then add the granola, and then the chocolate chips.

Drop spoonsful of the cookie dough onto the cookie sheets, with about 2 inches in between each cookie.

Bake for 15 minutes, until the cookies are done but not too crispy.  Use a spatula to remove the cookies from the cookie sheet to a cooling rack.

How They Turned Out

Yummy!  I was worried that the hard granola would still be hard in the cookies but it softened right up.The banana taste comes right through, and the dark chocolate adds just enough sweetness.

Banana Granola Cookies

Makes 3 dozen plus cookies.

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